What’s New from AKC Government Relations

Animal welfare continues to be an issue of concern for state legislatures and local governments. AKC strongly believes no dog should be left in conditions where basic needs are not met. Those who mistreat and harm animals should be held accountable for their actions. Anyone whose animals were seized and are subsequently found guilty of cruelty should be required to pay the cost of boarding and care for those animals. We are concerned, however, about a trend in legislation nationwide that could force innocent owners to permanently forfeit their animals simply because they have been accused of cruelty and cannot afford the cost of long-term boarding and outside care for the duration of the judicial process.

Bills currently under consideration in New Jersey and Illinois, among others, allow animals to be seized on suspicion of cruelty, and then require the owner to pay for the animals’ care during an ongoing trial. If a payment is missed, ownership is permanently relinquished, even if the charges are later dropped or the owner is found not guilty. This is a significant concern for those who may not be able to afford both the daily boarding and care fees of their animals and mounting legal costs. We encourage you to view our resources in the Legislative Action Center for talking points and further information on these issues that infringe on the rights of due process and private property – and ultimately may remove dogs from a home and place them in a shelter even if the owner did nothing wrong.

This is just one of the many issue analyses, sample letters, and other resources you can find in our online Legislative Action Center to help you as you communicate with lawmakers on canine legislation. For summaries and more information on issues we are currently tracking, be sure to read this month's legislative summaries.

The upcoming summer months look to be busy for AKC GR. Staff will be meeting with legislators at the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), National Association of Counties (NACo) and National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) events. In addition, the AKC GR team continues to provide testimony and comment on ongoing legislative and regulatory issues. We are also in the process of planning regional conferences for both the Southeastern and Western states to meet you personally and help develop your advocacy networks in your state and local community. Stay tuned for more information on these upcoming programs and resources.

We always appreciate hearing from you. Please call us at (919) 816-3720 or e-mail doglaw@akc.org if you hear of a canine legislative issue in your area. We welcome the opportunity to partner with you to continue to protect our dogs, our sport, and the rights of all responsible breeders and dog owners!