Community Achievement Award

AKC Honors Third Quarter

Community Achievement Award Honorees

Congratulations to the latest AKC Community Achievement Award recipients: The Florida Association of Kennel Clubs, the Long Island Coalition of Dog Fanciers, and the Siberian Husky Club of Greater Cleveland, Inc.

The 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 have successfully promoted purebred dogs and responsible dog ownership within their communities or have successfully introduced, monitored, and responded to legislative issues affecting dog ownership. The Public Education department accepts nominations year-round and names up to three honorees each quarter. The nomination form is available on the AKC web site, or by request. Each honoree receives a certificate and a $1,000 check payable to the club or federation's public education and canine legislation efforts.

Florida Association of Kennel Clubs

The Florida Association of Kennel Clubs receives the AKC Community Achievement Award for its unselfish dedication to helping animals suffering from the devastation caused by natural disasters as well as its local legislative lobbying efforts.

“Similar to the California wildfire disaster last year, hundreds of animals have been displaced in Florida as a result of Hurricane Charley. We are doing everything in our power to provide assistance,” said Dennis B. Spring, AKC's President and CEO, shortly after the storm hit Florida in August. “The Florida Association of Kennel Clubs has been instrumental in that effort, and we greatly appreciate their hard work.”

Before a disaster such as Hurricane Charley even hits, Diane Albers, president of the Florida Association of Kennel Clubs, calls kennel clubs in the area targeted by the storm and gives them her toll-free number. She advises them to call her after the storm to report damages and any assistance they need in the rescue of animals affected by the storm. Local newspapers and TV stations also give out her number for people to call in the aftermath, if they need help locating or placing animals.

After Hurricane Charley hit Florida, Albers received hundreds of calls from shelters needing supplies for the thousands of animals displaced by the storm. The association took action. Members assessed the situation and sent in truckloads of food, crates, microchips, water, hay, feed for livestock, leashes, collars, and medical supplies for dogs, other small animals, and livestock.

Coordination of supplies coming in from all parts of the country means long hours for weeks on end. When donations arrive, the Florida Association of Kennel Clubs distributes the supplies just as quickly as it can get them out to the areas that request them.

After Hurricane Andrew hit Florida in 1992, Albers coordinated the efforts to help animals from her car in her driveway, where she was able to keep her cell phone charged. She received hundreds of calls around the clock requesting help or directions for where to deliver supplies.

The Florida Association of Kennel Clubs, along with kennel clubs throughout the country, comes to the rescue during devastation by offering money, supplies, and support, whenever and wherever it is needed.

“All of this happens because of the dog people,” said Albers. “We are one big family. No matter who you call, they all come together in a time of need.”

Besides the association's continued work during unforeseen disasters, it also works on the legislative front to fight breed-specific legislation at the local level. It worked closely with other clubs and federations, by alerting dog enthusiasts about a bill that would have expanded the puppy lemon law to include onerous requirements on hobby breeders. By gathering support by way of sending letters and e-mail to dog fanciers throughout their state, the Florida Association of Kennel Clubs helped defeat the bill.

The Long Island Coalition of Dog Fanciers

The Long Island Coalition of Dog Fanciers receives the Community Achievement Award for its work in both canine legislation and public education. Formed in 1991, the coalition is active in local, state, and federal legislation, working to protect the rights of dog owners by fighting anti-dog legislation.

Every year the coalition fights breed-specific legislation in New York on local and state levels by educating legislators and the public about responsible dog ownership and safety around dogs. Coalition members diligently meet with legislators and educate them on the reasons certain laws should not pass.

“Every year, our state legislators introduce some type of breed-specific, dangerous-dog legislation,” said Sue Weiss, president of the coalition. “We needed to do something to stop this year's bill, so we sent a cover letter and petition to every club in NY state asking for help. We urged them to sign and return the petitions, which we then submitted to the committee members who were considering the bill. There are more than 300 clubs in the state, and we were able to obtain more than 2,000 names on the petitions. The bill was consequently pulled.”

The coalition also defeated an insurance bill in their state aiming to discriminate against homeowners based on the breeds of dog they own. The coalition additionally raised awareness among dog enthusiasts by sending them information about the Puppy Protection Act, which would have expanded federal regulation of dog breeders. The Puppy Protection Act was eventually dropped.

The coalition sponsors a match show each year as a fundraiser to help support its legislative efforts. The event features health clinics, Canine Good Citizen® tests, Therapy Dog International demonstrations, and fun activities that appeal to pet owners and children, such as Meet the Breeds. The coalition features a large educational tent where members distribute AKC responsible dog ownership materials and show AKC videos about dog shows and the AKC-recognized breeds.

Coalition members also participate in purebred rescue efforts by coordinating a breed rescue contact list of people available to help with displaced dogs by getting them to homes or shelters where they will be cared for.

Club members visit schools and libraries with their dogs to teach children about responsible dog ownership and safety around dogs.

The coalition publishes a newsletter at least four times a year to educate dog enthusiasts on current legislative issues and to highlight the coalition's efforts to fight undesireable legislation. The newsletter is sent to coalition members and anyone else interested in legislative issues. They have a circulation of more than 700 subscribers.

“Members of the coalition never pass up an opportunity to educate the public about dog laws, whether it is through an organized effort at a show, or on an individual, one-on-one basis,” said Ann Lettis, director of Responsible Dog Owners Association of New York in her nomination of the coalition.

“I am extremely grateful to the Long Island Coalition of Dog Fanciers,” said Lettis. “It has been, and continues to be, a shining example of teamwork in the area of legislation, not only working among those in their area, but also with other organizations.”

According to Lettis, the intellectual and financial support this group provides is invaluable to their state.

“The Long Island Coalition of Dog Fanciers has never lost sight of what is important,” said Lettis. “Seeking no credit for their own organization, they are a group of dedicated individuals, working alongside others, with one purpose in mind— protecting the dogs and promoting responsible ownership.”

Siberian Husky Club of Greater Cleveland, Inc., Ohio

The Siberian Husky Club of Greater Cleveland (SHCGC) works continuously within its community to educate the public about the Siberian Husky breed and responsible dog ownership. By sponsoring wellness clinics, specialty shows, seminars and more, the club dedicates itself to educating the public about purebred dogs.

Members of the SHCGC use many resources to educate the public about purebred dogs. They advertise club activities, such as the annual “Dogs on Parade” in the local newspaper and distribute fliers. During a weeklong Dogs on Parade fundraising event last year at the Sports, Travel, and Outdoor show held at the Cleveland IX Center, club members and their dogs greeted the public while introducing the public to the Siberian Husky. Club members talked about their breed, the breed's standard, how to care for the breed, and breed characteristics.

The club sponsors a wellness clinic each year that helps canine and feline pet owners in their community by keeping their pets up-to-date on vaccinations offered at reduced costs by a licensed veterinarian. The club also invites the community to an eye-screening clinic each year, where an American College of Veterinary Ophthalmologists examiner helps detect eye diseases in Siberians and other breeds.

SHCGC offers seminars to educate people about the breed as well as handling and obedience classes, programs on breeding, whelping, raising puppies, nutrition, and various health issues. The club also offers evaluation clinics, specialty shows, and school demonstrations.

Thirteen Canine Ambassadors conduct sledding demonstrations and talk about responsible dog ownership at schools and community organizations. Club members participate in the local Cleveland Metroparks Winterfest where they give sled rides and distribute information on their breed.

The club is active in Siberian rescue. When the movie Snowdogs came out at local theaters, club members distributed fliers to moviegoers on the advantages and disadvantages of owning a Siberian Husky. The club's rescue team participates in rescue-day events sponsored by the local zoo where they publicize purebred dog rescue. The club also held a picnic for Siberian Husky rescues so the owners could meet and become a part of the Siberian world. The club is planning a dog walk this fall to raise funds for rescue projects.