What's New from AKC Government Relations

Here’s a little Civics 101 to share with your fellow dog owners:  There are more than half a million lawmakers in the United States. Read that again—there are half a million lawmakers (legislators) on the federal, state, and local levels of government.

There are more than 90,000 different governing bodies across the U.S. Among these are approximately 39,000 county, town, and municipal governments that, through the legislators you elect, enact local laws that affect dogs and dog owners.

It’s a lot to comprehend, so let’s break it down to a more manageable level:

You live in specific districts that are based on your residential address, and you vote for the elected officials who represent you and the other citizens living in those districts. You can quickly identify your federal and state districts and the elected officials who represent those districts by using a search function provided on the AKC Legislative Action Center website. Look for the section titled “Find Your Elected Officials” and enter your address.

The names that appear will include the President and Vice President, your U.S. Senators (two for each state), your U.S. Representative (one for each of the 435 Congressional districts), and your state-level elected officials—governor, senator, representative, and other elected office holders.

Legislators make, amend, and repeal laws. Generally, legislators are senators and representatives on the federal and state levels, though some states may use different official titles.

To find out who represents you on the local levels, you will need to contact your city and county governments. Many local governments have websites that display this information, and with luck, the websites are up-to-date. (Doesn’t hurt to check!)

Your local legislators may be called “council members”, “commissioners”, “aldermen”, or a variety of other titles. Find out who represents you in your local district, and also if there are any “at large” members (lawmakers elected by all residents of the town or county) in your community.

Your research should result in a list of your lawmakers that includes:

  • Two senators and one representative who represent you at the federal level in Washington, D.C.
  • One state senator and one state representative (except in Nebraska) who represent you at the state level at your state capitol
  • One to several legislators who represent you at the county level
  • One to several legislators who represent you at the township level (if you live in a city or town). Some local governments have combined the town and county governance into a “metropolitan” government.

That’s seven legislators (or a few more if your local government has “at large” legislators) who represent you at the various levels of government. It’s a much more manageable number than a half million!

Now here’s the important question:  Do these seven legislators know you, your kennel club, your background and expertise with dogs, and your views on issues that affect you as a dog owner?  They should! 

This month’s Taking Command includes info and tools on how to let your lawmakers know that you and your AKC club are great resources in your state and community.

Share information with your lawmakers about AKC’s perspectives on dog care, continuing educational programs for breeders and care and conditions policy for all dogs. Encourage your legislators to work with you and other dedicated, informed dog owners and breeders—their constituent members of AKC clubs—when researching and considering dog-related issues. Be the first community representatives who come to mind when dog-related issues arise.