Recently, we focused on the importance of reaching out to your local lawmakers at the start of the new year to let them know about your expertise and involvement in canine legislation issues. But there’s another side to that equation that’s equally important: Reaching out to the community – both the community of fellow dog fanciers, breeders, exhibitors and club members, as well as the general public – to educate them about canine legislation issues and how they impact dogs and our sport.
AKC Government Relations has been hard at work reaching out to both lawmakers and the community. In January, we held AKC’s first regional legislative conference in New England (LINK), to educate regional dog clubs of the importance of getting involved in canine legislation and advocating on behalf of their dogs. Also in January, AKC GR coordinated with the First Dog Training Club of Northern New Jersey to present the township of Westwood, NJ with an “AKC Dog Friendly Community Award” in recognition of the township’s work in supporting the club and its efforts to promote responsible dog ownership and training.
So far this month, AKC club members have presented AKC Legislator of the Year Awards in Georgia and Kentucky to honor legislators who have taken a stand on behalf of dog owners, breeders, and sportsmen. The GR team also invited lawmakers from New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut to serve as Honorary Chairs for the annual Meet the Breeds event in conjunction with the Westminster Kennel Club shows. Many of these lawmakers, their staff, and families attended (LINK) to meet dogs, interact with constituents, and learn more about the AKC and responsible breeders. We also had a visit from Connecticut’s Kid Governor, who is taking what she learned back to teach kids about dog shows and responsible dog ownership in her state.
Contacting your lawmakers about pending legislation and proposals is essential. It is our first line of defense against bad legislation and it’s crucial to our success. For sustained success, we encourage you to think about think of how to supplement bill-related advocacy with direct outreach to lawmakers and fellow dog owners before bad legislation is introduced. Reaching out to your community at large to teach about responsible dog ownership and breeding and all that you and your clubs do on behalf of dogs and dog owners is the other part of that equation. Visit the AKC Government Relations Legislative Action Center toolbox for resources you can use in your communication efforts, and as always, the AKC GR team is here to help you! Contact us if we can help you in your efforts to reach out to your lawmakers and community.