Building Consensus in a Hostile Urban Area

By: Sarah Sprouse, AKC GR Legislative Analyst

 SCKOBA

You might be surprised to hear that one of the most successful local breeder organizations in the country can be found in Los Angeles County, California. Beyond the famous urban center of Los Angeles lays thousands of acres of farmland including approximately 150 boarding, showing, and breeding kennels.

The Southern California Kennel Owners and Breeders Association (SCKOBA) was initially formed in the face of a proposal from animal control that would have negatively impacted the kennels in the area. The group has expanded both their membership and their mission over the years. They have developed a strong working relationship with animal control and now with other agencies in the county. The group has educated county officials about the way that they do things and why. They have hosted animal control officials for kennel tours and spent hours discussing the appropriate care of various breeds, selection of kennel construction materials, and animal husbandry for dogs in breeding and boarding kennels.

How has the group been so successful in an area that is populated with activists who would often rather see these entities shut down?

According to SCKOBA President Dick Greaver, “First, we go in with a clear and concise list of what we need and want and are prepared to explain the whys. We work to build consensus and approach the meeting with an open mind. We start by asking what they are trying to achieve and work to find solutions that will be workable for kennel owners.”

Greaver and his group have also built a rapport with animal control by providing assistance to each other and to animal control. When wildfires were sweeping the county, the group worked with each other and animal control to find housing for animals that were displaced. The county had an animal area at the fairground that wasn’t able to handle big dogs, so Greaver offered up kennel space at his place for some Tibetan Mastiffs. When the county has had to deal with some particularly vicious and behaviorally challenged dogs, Greaver has gone and assisted them in bringing those animals in. By engaging in activities that are mutually beneficial SCKOBA has partnered with animal control to address issues in the community in a positive manner.

Most recently SCKOBA has been working with the county to streamline the code for existing and new kennels. Under the current system the animal control code and the zoning code are not always in sync and different departments may require breeders to make different and often expensive modifications to their properties. The group is now working to create a single pipeline for getting county approvals. This will save both the kennel owners and county employees time and money.

“The key to being successful is to find a win-win and to be willing to agree to things that are best for the whole group. It can’t be about one individual and everyone is going to have to give some, but working together, you can get things done,” said Greaver.

The American Kennel Club’s Government Relations team applauds SCKOBA for all their hard work and is ready to assist state and local groups in forming federations and local organizations to advocate for the rights of responsible dog owners and breeders. Contact them at doglaw@akc.org.