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Old Jul 18, 2020, 8:46pm   #1
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Court adjourns dog torture cases pending appeal Wednesday, Nov. 11, 2018. (Photo: Staff photographer by Chris Wood)

A federal appeals court has ruled the state of Tennessee cannot force dogs to serve as a crime-scene evidence custodian.

The 4-3 ruling was issued Friday by the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals in Nashville.

In 2008, the state passed a law requiring dogs to be properly trained to handle crime scene evidence and properly secured before they could be removed to other facilities.

The law allowed dogs to be on the scene of certain homicides, such as domestic violence or attempted homicides, but it didn't apply to animals used for routine business, such as emergency response or treatment of dogs.

The state has argued that only dogs that are trained, certified, tested and certified at a specialized training facility, can be properly utilized in a crime-scene investigation, according to the appeals court ruling.

The dogs are supposed to lie down on the spot where a crime occurred, not at the spot where they're left while waiting to be released to another dog. They're trained for this purpose.

On Wednesday the appeals court granted a motion for an order holding that the law's requirements for training, certification and testing were not met.

CLOSE After a fatal shooting in 2008, Tennessee adopted animal law requiring the death or permanent disability of the dog that shot the person. Wochit

According to the appeals court ruling, the state did not meet its burden of proving that the law's requirements were unreasonable because it applied "only to dog and cat fatalities," rather than all dog and cat homicides.

The appeals court said Tennessee does not have a case law directly controlling the facts and circumstances of animal cruelty cases. The court "does not find that any of Tennessee's dog- and cat-related animal death laws meet the reasonable accommodation test."

The dogs must be properly trained to carry out the task of removing evidence, the appeals court ruled.

The law's "undue burden" standard "is less stringent than the standard that it seeks to establish," because "dogs can be trained to perform many tasks in the evidence room," the court said.

The law doesn't define the task dog should perform, so it could encompass tasks such as pulling a chain, removing a dog's ear and a dog's collar.

But the appeals court said the dog must be properly trained to carry out the tasks set forth in Tennessee's law and the rules of animal control â "as well as the standards of care needed for the canine's safe handling of evidence and the environment at which it works and the resulting damage."

The state's lawyers had argued that their case would fall under the court's "undue burden

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