Puppies Killed After Alleged Bridge Toss Deserve Justice

Target: Todd Gardenhire, Chair of Tennessee Senate Committee on the Judiciary

Goal: End unjust grand jury process that seemingly favors criminals over both human and non-human crime victims.

National Pet Day is a celebration of the animals that become beloved members of families, but it’s also a stark reminder of the millions of unwanted animals that become victims of abuse, neglect, or abandonment. The latter, an often underreported and forgotten offense, allegedly played out to a tragic end in Tennessee. A tote was discovered near a bridge. Inside this bag, which had apparently been tossed from the bridge, were six puppies. Only one was alive. It is believed the young pups may have met their grim fate on Christmas Day.

A 24-year-old suspect, Tyler Underwood, was eventually apprehended and could have been charged with multiple counts of animal cruelty. The suspect also apparently faced accusations of theft and probation violation. Despite these alleged crimes, this suspect will not only be free from any potential punishment. He will not even have a trial.

Underwood was not indicted by a Tennessee grand jury, which sets a notoriously high bar for indictments. In the majority of states, a grand jury is not even needed to bring formal criminal charges. And in the states where the grand jury process is required, most set the bar for indictment at a majority. In Tennessee’s case, however, if only two of the 13 jurors dissent then the charges will not move forward. As a result, Underwood, like so many other potential defendants—especially in low-priority cases like animal cruelty—never has to answer for the offenses of which he is accused.

Sign the petition below to demand this state’s lawmakers amend a process that works against victims and survivors of violent crimes.


Dear Senator Gardenhire,

“A grand jury would indict a ham sandwich.” Tennessee proves that not all old adages have a ring of truth. Recently, two dissenters in a Morgan County grand jury spared a man accused of throwing weeks-old puppies off a bridge to their deaths from criminal charges. The man in question is also reportedly under investigation for other crimes, but now he is apparently free and in the clear.

Why is the bar set higher in this state for victims and survivors to get justice than almost anywhere else in the country? The grand jury process does not end with a conviction or a sentence. It is a formal bringing of charges. The standards for an indictment are therefore much less rigorous than the unanimous consent required for a traditional jury…except in Tennessee, where two dissenters (just like in the aforementioned case) can grind the wheels of justice to a halt.

Please reevaluate and revise this defective portion of Tennessee’s criminal system so that the scales of justice are truly balanced for all.


[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Sergio Souza


  1. This is a joke. Because of the lax law, Tennessee will produce more criminals and psychopaths! Wake up Tennessee! Make your people and animals feel safe!

  2. Michelle Taylor says:

    This vile, mentally deranged puppy killing scumbag must have the death penalty implemented. A slow and agonizing extermination of this evil cretin is essential!

  3. Sherry Akridge says:

    A 24 year old man kills five innocent puppies and he will walk free.
    Never be charged, just walk. He gets away with animal torture and cruelty.
    The law will deal with him again, it is almost guaranteed! When people hurt
    animals, it doesn’t just stop there. When people hurt animals and get away with it, figure it out! Reading things like this is so unreal, it’s like is this really
    the world that we live in. The answer is YES!

  4. Alice Knight says:

    This is an outrage! People who commit any crime should be punished and held accountable for their crimes. The Tennessee judicial system need to definitely re-evaluate and revise this negative portion of their criminal code. To have this criminal just to be able to slip away from his cruel behaviour is unacceptable.

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