AKC Taking Command - a publication of the AKC Government Relations Department
April 2014
Tracy Sanderson of the Greater Ocala Dog Club and the Pioneer Valley Kennel Club Honored with AKC Community Achievement Awards

The American Kennel Club recently announced that the Pioneer Valley Kennel Club and Tracy Sanderson of the Greater Ocala Dog Club have been honored with AKC Community Achievement Awards for the first quarter of 2014.

The Pioneer Valley Kennel Club (PVKC) provides year-round public education programs to promote responsible dog care and encourage participation in AKC events. In 2013, PVKC members arranged for a series of monthly television segments on local WWLP Channel 22 to discuss selection and care of dogs, educate about dog events, promote the AKC Canine Good Citizen® program, and present other topics suggested by club members. This innovative public education programming and PVKC’s well-designed club website have been featured in AKC’s e-newsletter AKCommunicates.

At its 2013 summer dog show, PVKC offered activities for spectators that were designed to educate the public and foster appreciation for dogs, dog shows, and dog activities. The club provided a meet-and-greet with a K9 officer, dog show tours, a search-and-rescue demonstration, and a stuffed toy dog show.

Thirteen children ages 3 to 8 “exhibited” their stuffed dogs by placing them on an exam table and moving them up and back across the grass. Massachusetts Representative Paul Mark, who served as judge, presented each child with a large blue rosette, goody bag, and a copy of If I Ran the Dog Show by Dr. Seuss.

“Our goal is to capture the enthusiasm of these young people and hope that a lifelong interest in dogs would be encouraged,” said PVKC publicity coordinator Kim Reardon. The event received positive local media coverage.

With her American Staffordshire Terrier “Cash” (CH Spectrum Man In Black THD) at her side, Tracy Sanderson of the Greater Ocala Dog Club (GODC) works to encourage a positive view of her breed in her community. After Cash earned his championship from the Bred-By Exhibitor class, passed the AKC Canine Good Citizen test, and graduated from a therapy dog class, this devoted team became well-known volunteers in central Florida.

Along with providing therapy dog visits to numerous facilities, Tracy and Cash have participated in the “Great American Teach In” at Pasco County schools every November since 2007, visited children’s summer camps, participated in children’s reading programs, and attended a bereavement summer camp for children. They recently became members of an animal-assisted crisis response team to provide comfort and encouragement to individuals affected by crises and disasters. Tracy also presents information about therapy dogs to students studying social work at St. Leo University, where Cash is scheduled to be honored by the university as a “hero in a different form.”

Tracy, who has exhibited American Staffordshire Terriers for more than 15 years, works to oppose breed-specific legislation by attending organized events and walks where Cash serves as an ambassador for his breed. The team has staffed booths at health fairs, festivals, and dog events promoting responsible pet ownership, marched in parades, and met with US Senator Bill Nelson at an ongoing community redevelopment project in their neighborhood.

“Tracy has shown people what a wonderful breed Am Staffs truly are. She has made a difference in so many lives. Cash changes the way people view this breed, one person at a time,” said GODC president Phil Briasco.

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 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 Award are accepted year-round. Honorees receive a certificate of appreciation and a $1,000 check payable to their AKC club or AKC-recognized federation to further public education and government relations efforts. Click here to nominate an individual, club or federation.