You’ve probably heard the philosophical question, “If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?” AKC club members may wish to ponder a similar question, “If your club does great things for dogs, do your lawmakers know?”
Positive publicity in the media and in legislative chambers helps underscore that experienced dog owners, breeders, trainers and exhibitors are the best sources of information about dog care and should be the first to be consulted on dog-related policy.
Most AKC clubs across the U.S. host events and provide ongoing public education programs to encourage responsible dog ownership. Many clubs do an excellent job of promoting their events and activities. But some clubs may not include public relations in their event planning. That’s a missed opportunity!
Does your club offer training classes, AKC Canine Good Citizen® seminars and testing, or other resources for dog owners? Do club members volunteer on behalf of pet food banks, pet therapy programs, humane societies, rabies/microchip/pet health clinics, or other community services? Does your local or parent club support canine health research, rescue, etc.? This is good news that should be shared.
Take steps to ensure that the press and your elected officials, law enforcement authorities, and policymakers are aware of the tremendous knowledge and value your AKC club brings to your community! AKC GR can assist you with outreach to legislators—please contact firstname.lastname@example.org. The AKC Communications department can help with media and public relations—contact email@example.com.
Consider inviting legislators to participate in your club’s dog-related events. In conjunction with the high-profile “Westminster Weekend”, AKC Government Relations (AKC GR) invited federal, state and local lawmakers from the tri-state area to show their support for responsible dog ownership by serving as honorary chairs for the 2015 AKC Meet the Breeds in New York City. More than 120 legislators signed on as honorary chairs and many legislators or their staff attended.
AKC GR also hosted a booth at Meet the Breeds; provided tours to legislators, their staff, and families; and later moved “down the piers” to host a public education booth and answer questions on legislative issues during breed judging at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show.
AKC GR hosted a breakfast for the North Carolina Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus at the North Carolina General Assembly, which was attended by a large number of legislators and staff. GR Director Sheila Goffe spoke to the attendees about our heritage with sporting dogs and the need to ensure that legislation does not negatively impact the right to own, breed, and enjoy sporting activities with dogs. She delivered a similar message to sportsmen and legislators in Georgia in March.
On the local level, AKC Breeder of Merit Patricia Johnson has dedicated years of hard work on behalf of dogs and dog owners in her community. In this issue’s “Tales from the Trenches”, she offers suggestions on how one person can lead by example and make a difference.
What’s going on in your community? Almost everybody loves a feel-good dog story, so take time to share your good news.