AKC Honors US Senator Kelly Ayotte for Protecting Domestic Violence Victims and Pets

The American Kennel Club (AKC®), presented U.S. Senator Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire with the AKC Legislator of the Year Award on Friday, October 14, at the Souhegan Kennel Club’s Fall Extravaganza and Regional Obedience Trial in Amherst.

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and the AKC is proud to recognize Senator Ayotte’s important role in protecting victims of domestic violence and their pets.

“Senator Ayotte has been a great friend to dogs and a tremendous advocate for responsible dog owners and dog ownership,” said Sheila Goffe, Vice President of Government Relations for the AKC. “One example of her leadership is her introduction of S. 1559, the Pet and Women Safety Act (PAWS), which establishes a program to help victims of domestic violence obtain safe accommodations for their pets when they are seeking shelter from their attackers.”

Numerous studies show that victims of domestic violence and related crimes will delay leaving or return to a dangerous situation out of concern for their pets. Despite the frequent occurrence of pets being used as pawns in abusive relationships, few domestic violence shelters have the ability to accommodate victims who seek a safe place for themselves and their pets.

“It is an honor to receive this award from the American Kennel Club, who along with the AKC Humane Fund has been instrumental leaders in protecting domestic violence victims and their pets,” said Senator Ayotte.  “It is an unimaginable tragedy that pets are used as pawns in cases of domestic violence.  I am proud to sponsor this important legislation and partner with the American Kennel Club to ensure a safe place for domestic violence victims and their beloved pets.”

In 2010, the AKC developed the AKC Women’s Shelter Grant Program through the AKC Humane Fund to assist shelters in developing programs to address this tragic situation. The PAWS Act creates the Emergency and Transitional Pet Shelter and Housing Assistance Grant Program, which would award grants for programs that provide assistance to victims of stalking and domestic violence. These grants and other protections for pets in the PAWS bill will further this important effort and ensure the safety of domestic violence victims and their pets. 

Visit the AKC’s Legislative Action Center and type your address in the “Find Your Elected Officials” box to learn how to contact your US Senators in support of this legislation.

The James S. Holt Memorial Award for Promotion of Responsible Dog Ownership in Legislation, also known as the Legislator of the Year award, is a memorial to the late Dr. James S. Holt, who served for 17 years as the AKC's federal legislative consultant, participated in the sport of purebred dogs for more than 40 years, and served as an AKC Delegate and Board member.

The award was established to honor legislators who demonstrate a commitment to promoting responsible dog ownership, the well-being of dogs, and protect the rights of dog owners, exhibitors, and responsible breeders.

Photo: Senator Kelly Ayotte, AKC Vice President of Government Relations Sheila Goffe, and AKC Obedience Field Representative Diane Schultz.  Photo (c) AKC