The American Kennel Club’s Government Relations team has had an extremely busy two months, starting with the 15th annual AKC Responsible Dog Ownership Day (RDO) held in Raleigh, NC on September 9th. Each September, the AKC hosts AKC Responsible Dog Ownership Days to educate first-time dog owners about the responsibilities of dog ownership and help current owners enhance their relationships with their pets. Attendees had the opportunity to meet various dog breeds on hand for AKC Meet the Breeds, as well as speak one-on-one with experienced breeders, owners, handlers, and trainers that are active in AKC events, clubs, and rescue groups. The GR team was on hand to answer the public’s questions and welcome members of the North Carolina General Assembly who attended with their families and dogs.
Later in the month, the AKC GR team hosted a Southeast Legislative Conference in Atlanta, Georgia. The one-day regional AKC Legislative Conference featured presentations by experts on canine legislation, communications, coalition building, and grassroots advocacy.
During the first week of October, Sheila Goffe, Vice President of Government Relations, traveled to Washington, D.C., for a busy week of events and meetings, including testifying on Capitol Hill.
Sheila started the week presenting at the National Animal Interest Alliance (NAIA) conference on new ideas and innovative strategies on advocating successfully, and providing updates on federal canine legislation issues (view the federal updates in this issue for the latest information on bills we are tracking on Capitol Hill).
Later in the week, Sheila testified in front of the House Committee on Homeland Security’s Subcommittee on Transportation and Protective Security for their “Innovations in Security: Examining the Use of Canines” hearing. Sheila was joined by Lieutenant Scott Smith of the Orlando Police Department and Dr. Cynthia Otto, Director of the University of Pennsylvania Vet Working Dog Center. The purpose of the hearing was to examine the supply of qualified domestic canines for security purposes and discuss opportunities to expand the visibility of canines at soft targets and transportation hubs throughout the country.
After the hearing, Sheila attended Pet Night on Capitol Hill. She was joined by members of Congress, industry leaders, members of the veterinary community, animal welfare advocates, and research organizations to learn about the importance of pet ownership in America and the growing scientific evidence that pet ownership leads to improved wellbeing for both people and animals.
Also in October, AKC Legislative Outreach Director Jennifer Clark testified at a series of hearings at the Massachusetts State Capitol in Boston. This included supporting bills allowing better public access for service animals, prohibiting insurance companies from discriminating against policy holders based on the breed of dog they own, and establishing a positive consumer protection bill that would protect dogs and consumers and allow freedom of choice in selecting a pet in the Commonwealth. Jennifer also joined other animal organizations and dog clubs in testifying against bills that would create significant burdens on Massachusetts hobbyists. Visit our state updates section in this issue for the latest information on these bills and others we are tracking around the country.