In 2014, your involvement will be vital to preserving the rights of responsible individuals to choose, breed, own, properly care for, and assure the future of our beloved dogs. AKC Government Relations can help you protect your rights as a dog owner in your community, but we need your commitment too. As you consider your resolutions for the year ahead, please include these five easy steps to protect your right to own and breed dogs. The time you spend may be the best investment you make this year.
• Set up a brief meeting with your local representatives or legislators now. A friendly, 10-minute meeting to introduce yourself — especially before an issue arises — will help you to establish yourself as an expert when your legislator needs someone to call for input on future issues. In the meeting, share the wonderful things you and your club do for the community and responsible dog ownership in general. Encourage them to contact you on canine legislation issues. If you know of a legislator that is particularly supportive of dog owners, consider nominating them for a Holt/Legislator Of The Year award.
• Participate in outreach programs to personally demonstrate the value that responsible breeders, owners and hobbyists bring to their communities. Recognition of the value breeders and dog owners bring to the community is an important part of legislative success. Responsible dog ownership programs that engage the public are great for schools, community centers, fairs and other community gatherings. AKC can provide suggestions and tools and help you make your event a success.
• Get involved in the upcoming elections. The majority of states have elections this year. Take the time to make sure your voter registration is up to date and that you know the dates of the upcoming elections. Electing dog-friendly candidates is the most effective way to ensure your rights are protected. Lawmakers are especially eager in election years to go out in the community and meet constituents. Invite them to come speak for a few minutes at the beginning of your next club meeting, or give them a tour of your show or event. Show them what you are doing on behalf of dogs and help them understand what it means to be a responsible fancier, breeder, or sportsman.
• Watch for canine legislation and issues in your community. AKC GR monitors and tracks legislation at the state and federal level, but we depend on input from you to learn what's going on in municipalities across the country. Contact us when an issue arises. We will work with you to connect with other clubs and breeders in your area and provide you with the tools you need to educate your lawmakers and fight bad legislation.
• Know your local laws. Make sure that you are aware of any new laws that were enacted last year in your state and local community. Knowing your laws and complying with them are important aspects of responsible dog ownership. In this issue, we highlight some of the new laws enacted in 2013 and encourage you to contact your local animal control to find out if there are any changes to laws or regulations in your area.
Thank you for continuing to partner with us! AKC GR resolves to continue to work with you and provide you with the tools and resources you need so that together we can continue to protect our rights to own and breed dogs.
Director, Government Relations