This summer and fall, hundreds of clubs and dog organizations around the country, along with other pet-related organizations, will host Responsible Dog Ownership Days to help educate the public in their communities about the responsibilities of dog ownership and help current owners enhance their relationships with their pets. These events consist of educational booths, action-packed dog demonstrations, games, activities to try out with your dog, microchipping, health clinics and more. Owning a dog has endless pleasures and rewards, but we all need a friendly reminder about the obligations we have to our pets in return.
Part of responsible dog ownership is knowing, understanding and following the laws that impact you, whether on the federal, state, or local level. Last month, we mentioned some of the lawmaker conferences we attended to make ourselves available as a resource for policymakers. This month, we were pleased to attend the National Conference of State Legislators, and American Legislation Exchange Council conference (ALEC), the AKC Canine Health Foundation conference, and the Association of Service Dog Providers for Military Veterans conference. Although the conferences each had different participant bases, all audiences can be impacted by dog policy, and we are committed to being available and to advocate on behalf of dog owners, breeders, and exhibitors.
An important part of policy work involves assessing and mitigating potential unattended consequences of well-intended legislation. A recent AKC GR blog discusses the unintended consequences of being a good samaritan by breaking a window to help a dog out of a car. When someone perceives a dog in distress, the natural inclination is to want to “do something”. In response, many lawmakers are turning to update “Good Samaritan Laws” that allow anyone who perceives a dog to be in danger to remove it from a vehicle. Many recently introduced bills protect the person removing the dog from any liability for loss or damages. Unfortunately, these bills often fail to consider what happens if a dog runs away, bites someone, needs medical attention, or is stolen under the guise of helpfulness.
Another example involves being diligent even when a law is passed. We saw this in Ohio when the Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODA) re-interpreted a nearly 10-year-old definition of “pet store” to include anyone selling a dog in Ohio. After tremendous educational efforts by the AKC, Ohio Valley Dog Owners, and local clubs and breeders, ODA agreed to cease taking action on their new interpretation and legislators worked with dog owners to clarify the underlying law to avoid future misinterpretation.
Although this example had a positive outcome, it took a lot of work and heartache before a consensus could be reached. This why constant communication with your representatives is valuable: you never know when you may need to call on your good relationship with your own elected officials.
If you are looking for educational materials to share, please visit the AKC GR Tool Box at www.akcgr.org. As always, we are happy to be of assistance. Feel free to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or 919-816-3720.