Taking Command
A Publication of the AKC Government Relations Dept - October 2014
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Tales from the Trenches:
Community and Legislative Outreach Affirm WE Are the Dog Experts

In this issue’s “Tales from the Trenches”, Christopher L. Sweetwood, Delegate for the Trap Falls Kennel Club, Inc., discusses how the club brought together legislators, law enforcement officials and community groups in a celebration of dog ownership at its eleventh annual AKC Responsible Dog Ownership Day. This event was part of the club’s ongoing community outreach and support initiatives. Click here for video highlights.

Each year, members of the Trap Falls Kennel Club (TFKC) work to make our Responsible Dog Ownership Day bigger, better, and more effective.  One of the goals for this year’s event was to educate lawmakers about the valuable services that AKC, its affiliates and AKC clubs provide to the community.  

Prior to the event, I invited every local, state and federal politician in the area to attend the 2014 “Kanine Karnival”, which was held on September 27 at Eisenhower Park in Milford, Connecticut.  We reached out to US Senator Richard Blumenthal and asked him to be a featured presenter at the event.

We also asked Mayor Ben Blake to proclaim September 27, 2014 as Responsible Dog Ownership Day in Milford. On August 21 in a ceremony on the town hall steps, Mayor Blake signed and presented the proclamation to TFKC members and their dogs.  

The Trap Falls Kennel Club RDO Day publicity campaign included:
  • A featured spot on a local “Pet Talk” TV program
  • Write-ups in several local newspapers
  • Courtesy public service announcements on local radio 
  • 35 paid radio ads during drive-time commutes
  • Event flyers distributed throughout local and neighboring communities
  • Printed lawn signs
  • Event information on more than a dozen community calendars and websites
  • Info and updates on the club’s Facebook page and website

On RDO Day in the center ring, Senator Blumenthal awarded Canine Good Citizen® medallions and ribbons to two working canines. The presentation honored “Saint Michael”, a police dog that was purchased for the town of Newtown through donations from a local group of AKC clubs, and “Trent”, a narcotics detection dog for the town of Orange.  Following the senator’s presentation, I gave him a half-hour tour of the event and discussed all that the AKC does for the community.

The event, which attracted between 4,000 and 5,000 attendees, featured demonstrations and presentations in the center ring, an agility ring, Canine Good Citizen testing, pet microchipping, a Doggie Fun Zone, 65 meet the breeds booths, 25 vendor booths, a My Dog Can Do That! booth, a TFKC information booth, and a raffle/donation booth. 

Police departments from the towns of Newtown, Orange and Westport performed demonstrations, discussed the duties of a K-9 officer, the costs of obtaining and training a dog, and their appreciation for the AKC’s involvement in the program.  Another highlight was the “Adopt a K-9 Cop” program, which helps law enforcement agencies finance the purchase of new police K-9s. 

A TFKC booth staffed by club officers and members provided information about AKC events and programs. We discussed the value of microchips in recovering lost pets and directed interested dog owners to onsite microchipping clinics.  TFKC members raised funds through raffle ticket sales and donation jars strategically located throughout the site, and attendees donated a pick-up truck load of dog food and supplies for the Milford Animal Shelter.

We invited local youth groups to support and participate in the event.  Participants included the Happy Endings 4-H Club, youth from Congregation B’nai Israel, and the Girl Scouts.  Boy Scout Troop 103 assisted throughout the day with set-up, clean-up and parking lot directions.

At the end of the day, both the public and key government officials came away with a better idea of who we are and what we do.  Responsible Dog Ownership Days not only serve to provide education on dog care, they can also demonstrate the AKC brand and AKC messaging to the public and to our elected officials.

So the next time you have a public event, please consider inviting your area politicians and help spread the message that AKC clubs are the “go to” experts on dog issues.

US Senator Richard Blumenthal awards an AKC Canine Good Citizen® rosette to police dog “Saint Michael” and K9 handler Officer Felicia Figol. Photo courtesy Christopher Sweetwood, Trap Falls Kennel Club

Senator Richard Blumenthal applauds narcotics detection dog “Trent” with Officer Mary Bernegger (left) and police dog “Saint Michael” with Officer Felicia Figol at the Trap Falls Kennel Club Responsible Dog Ownership Day. Photo courtesy Christopher Sweetwood, Trap Falls Kennel Club

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