What’s New from AKC Government Relations

Do your local lawmakers view AKC clubs and their members as knowledgeable, valued community resources?  Do they contact you first when considering changes to dog policy in your city or county? 

Effective canine advocates get to know their elected and appointed officials on all levels of government before issues arise, and they are at the forefront when laws and regulations affecting dog owners are discussed. They establish their credibility by being involved in the community and are always professional, trustworthy, and prepared with valid, reliable information.

In AKC GR’s new educational video, All Politics Is Local—Tips for Successful Canine Advocacy, Mike Houchard of the Conyers Kennel Club discusses how to get to know your local lawmakers and ways to become a better grassroots advocate. As Mr. Houchard points out, dog laws are often proposed when a problem, either real or perceived, arises in a community. Elected officials want to provide their constituents with solutions to problems.

But unless lawmakers hear from dog-owning constituents who express reasonable viewpoints and provide verifiable facts, they may base their legislative actions on bad laws that were passed in other places or on misinformation from representatives of animal rights organizations. If they don’t hear from you—the true dog expert—they will have no other solutions to consider.

By establishing your expertise, communicating with lawmakers about the great things AKC clubs do to support responsible dog ownership, and raising awareness about the value breeders and dog owners bring to the community, you can help ensure that dog laws in your home town are fair and reasonable.

Recent examples of proactive grassroots advocacy recently took place in Ulster County, NY and Illinois. In Ulster County, concerned dog owners and breeders attended a county council meeting about a problematic proposal before it came onto the council’s calendar for a scheduled hearing and vote. As a result, the council sent the proposal back to committee and invited constituent dog owners/breeders to participate re-crafting the measure. On the state level, the Illinois Federation of Dog Clubs and Owners worked to initiate and pass a law that requires animal shelters and rescue groups to scan intake animals for a microchip multiple times before releasing the animal for relocation or adoption.

Although many local and county jurisdictions remain active, most state legislatures are currently in recess and state legislators are back in their home districts. This is a good time for them to meet and hear from you—their constituents. When you visit your state lawmakers, consider taking copies of current and previous issues of In Session, AKC Government Relations’ newsletter for state and federal legislators.

September, and AKC Responsible Dog Ownership (RDO) Month, are almost here. AKC’s flagship RDO Day event takes place in Raleigh, North Carolina on September 19 at the State Fairgrounds. Each year, AKC GR invites local and state legislators to attend with their families and dogs. If your club does not already participate in a local RDO Day, please consider planning your own responsible dog ownership educational event and ask your lawmakers to take part.