Public Education Corner


PE Corner
Clubs Win $1,000 for Responsible Dog Ownership and Legislative Efforts

The American Kennel Club® recently named the third and fourth quarter AKC Community Achievement Award honorees.

The AKC Community Achievement Awards support and recognize outstanding public education and legislation efforts of AKC-affiliated clubs, AKC-recognized federations and their members. The AKC selects award recipients who promote purebred dogs and responsible dog ownership within their communities or who have successfully introduced, monitored and responded to legislative issues affecting dog ownership.

Nominations for the AKC Community Achievement Awards are accepted year-round. Up to three honorees are named each quarter. They receive a certificate of appreciation and a $1,000 check payable to the club or federation’s public education and canine legislation efforts. To nominate a club, visit this page.

Third Quarter Honorees

Detroit Kennel Club
The Detroit Kennel Club used its annual dog show as a golden opportunity for public education on a grand scale. One of only six annual benched shows left in the United States, the DKC Dog Show regularly draws more than 3,000 entries and 30,000 spectators to Detroit’s Cobo Center.

“It is our belief that benched dog shows provide the best avenue for instilling a better understanding of purebred dogs amongst the public,” said DKC president Erik Bergishagen. “It provides dedicated breeders and clubs the opportunity to explain their purpose and the joy of breeding.”

A unique feature of the March 2007 event was a self-guided tour called “Map of the Stars,” an effort to get more young people interested in the club’s mission. The color-coded map led some 1,200 attendees through the show’s attractions at their own pace. Also among the public education attractions at the show were demonstrations of guide dogs for the blind, therapy dogs, search and rescue and herding, as well as breed seminars, veterinary presentations and the DKC’s Canine Care merit badge program.

“AKC congratulates the Detroit Kennel Club for creatively incorporating so many public education messages into their annual dog show,” said AKC Vice President of Communications Noreen Baxter. “We applaud the club’s enthusiasm and practical approach to educating others about the world of purebred dogs.”

Joseph Foster
Member of the Wilmington (Del.) Kennel Club (WKC)
Last year Foster, who owns two Rottweilers, played a key role in the defeat of countywide breed-specific legislation. He currently serves on two task forces; one organized to advocate reasonable canine legislation in New Castle County, and a statewide task force set up by State Senator Terry Spence. He is presently involved in fighting a proposed breed-specific legislation initiative in the city of Dover.

Foster was recommended for a Community Achievement Award by WKC Secretary Martha Doerner, who described his approach to dealing with local legislators as laidback and non-confrontational. Doerner said of Foster, “He keeps the board and the general membership up to date about legislation in the four states in which our members reside. He makes sure we know what’s happening in other areas of the county so we are aware of what might happen here. I can’t think of another WKC member who could or would do this particular job any better than Joe.”

“The AKC commends Joseph Foster’s efforts to ensure the continued well-being of dogs in his community,” said Baxter on behalf of the AKC. “He is an excellent role model for WKC members as well as anyone looking to get involved in fighting breed-specific legislation in his or her neighborhood.”

Everglades Golden Retriever Club
Instead of staging a public event for last year’s AKC Responsible Dog Ownership Day (AKC RDO Day), the EGRC decided to visit a public school and take the message of responsible dog ownership directly to children. They chose Stranahan High School, which has a pre-med magnet program that includes veterinary studies in its curriculum. Working with the coordinator of that program, the club devised a lesson plan based on materials provided by the AKC and the Golden Retriever Club of America.

On the morning of Sept. 12, 2006, EGRC President Pat Andrews and Vice President Kara Clark, accompanied by their two titled Goldens, made presentations to two classes of students with veterinary aspirations. They discussed the breed’s history and standard as well as breeding, AKC events, health issues that affect all breeds and how to examine a dog for signs of illness. The presentation concluded with an obedience demo.

EGRC Public Education Coordinator Linda Rappaport said that the club was extremely pleased to have been a part of Stranahan High School that day. “Imagine our pleasant surprise when the magnet program’s coordinator asked us to be part of the curriculum for the remainder of the school year!” she added.

“The EGRC is a great asset to the fancy. We congratulate club members on finding an innovative way to effectively reach others with their message of responsible dog ownership,” said Noreen Baxter, AKC’s VP of Communications. “We encourage all AKC clubs to follow their proactive outreach example.”

Fourth Quarter Honorees

For the second year, AKC dedicated the fourth quarter Community Achievement Awards to clubs who went above and beyond in their efforts to promote AKC Responsible Dog Ownership Day, an annual event created by the AKC to encourage all dog and pet-related organizations to publicly promote responsible dog ownership and help current dog owners enhance their relationships with their pets.

“The AKC is proud to recognize these clubs for organizing such successful AKC RDO day events. We hope other clubs will be inspired and join our RDO Day efforts in 2008,” said Baxter of the AKC.

Rapid City Kennel Club (RCKC)
Rapid City, S.D.
With a proclamation from the mayor of Rapid City proclaiming Sept. 8, 2007 AKC Responsible Dog Ownership Day, the Rapid City Kennel Club reached out to its community and news media to spread its important message. The club took advantage of local enthusiasm by partnering with three other local not-for-profit agencies to offer more educational opportunities for participants. They hosted activities such as AKC Canine Good Citizen® testing, an “Ask the Vet” booth, microchipping, a coloring contest for kids, a parade of breeds and demonstrations in Obedience, Agility, Earthdog, flyball, water rescue, retrieving and dog sledding.

“The Rapid City Kennel Club made great use of local resources by joining with other not-for-profit organizations to help spread the responsible dog ownership message,” said the AKC’s Baxter. “As a result of the positive publicity, the club has seen an increase in attendance at its regular training classes enabling them to educate more families about the importance of being a responsible dog owner throughout the year.”

Oconee River Kennel Club, Inc (ORKC)
Watkinsville, Ga.
“Oconee River Kennel Club is a new club with a positive direction honoring the AKC tradition of dog events and contributing to its community through education and donations,” wrote Maria Caudill, secretary of the ORKC, who nominated the club for the Community Achievement Award.

The ORKC put together a multitude of engaging and educational activities to draw in the several hundred spectators and numerous local merchants who supported its event. Among the activites were an AKC sanctioned B-match, a poster contest for children, AKC Canine Good Citizen testing, a Meet the Breeds, a Junior Handling clinic and a demonstration by therapy dog R.E.A.D. volunteers. The club’s efforts to promote the event included donations for a silent auction, prize sponsorships, use of the local bank’s scrolling marquee plus radio, newspaper and television coverage leading up to, during and after the event.

“By harnessing the support of the local community through donations, sponsorships, media coverage and engaging activities, the Oconee River Kennel Club’s AKC RDO Day created a recipe for success,” said the AKC’s Baxter.

Susque-Nango Kennel Club (SNKC)
Binghamton, N.Y.

“This accomplishment was a direct result of the hard work of the [SNKC] committee and their efforts promoting the event,” wrote Andrea C. Wawrzusin, President of SNKC, who nominated the club for the Community Achievement Award. “Not only did they manage to have the event promoted ahead of time in the local newspaper and television stations, they also succeeded in having Sept. 15, 2007, declared Responsible Dog Ownership Day in the City of Binghamton… and in Broome County.”

SNKC held its event in conjunction with another annual event, the Canine Companion Breast Cancer Awareness Walk. By combining the two events, both organizations were able to capitalize on the positive publicity they received. The club hosted many educational activities for attendees including “Meet the Breeds”, AKC Canine Good Citizen testing, microchipping and demonstrations in Agility, Obedience, Rally and flyball. A local radio station provided live event coverage, encouraging the public to stop by throughout the day.

“The SNKC’s determination to spread the responsible dog ownership message was heard loud and clear by its community,” said Noreen Baxter of the AKC.

SNKC’s determination to spread the responsible dog ownership message was heard loud and clear by its community.

AKC dog clubs and other pet-related organizations can find out more about AKC RDO Day 2008 here.

Nominations for the AKC Community Achievement Awards are accepted year-round. Up to three honorees are named each quarter. They receive a certificate of appreciation and a $1,000 check payable to the club or federation’s public education and canine legislation efforts. To nominate a club, visit this page.