What’s New from AKC Government Relations
The work of dog advocates is making a difference! On the federal level, the American Kennel Club, the American Veterinary Medical Association, the National Animal Interest Alliance, and leading dog advocacy organizations continue working on passage of the Healthy Dog Importation Act.
This bipartisan measure seeks to require that all dogs imported into the US meet minimum health standards as demonstrated by a health certificate issued by a recognized veterinary authority in the country of origin. The bill was introduced in the House in June, followed by introduction in the Senate this month.
AKC Government Relations is providing information and countering misconceptions about this legislation. For example, in July, AKC GR’s op-ed, “Ban on Dogs From ‘High-Risk’ Countries a Wake-up Call About Importation Health Crisis”, was featured in US media.
Also in Congress, the Paws for Veterans Therapy Act passed in both the House and Senate and was signed by the President on August 25. Supported by AKC, the Act establishes a pilot program to allow veterans to gain therapy through the training of service dogs that are provided and monitored by qualified non-profit organizations.
Nationally, AKC GR’s Detection Dog Task Force, dog breeders, and trainers continue their work to address the critical shortage of detection dogs in the US though educational webinars and the development of an informational video about the Patriotic Puppy Program.
The summer issue of In Session, AKC’s Congressional newsletter, features dog owner and trainer Senator Thom Tillis and his staff. This issue also provides federal lawmakers with analysis on the Healthy Dog Importation Act, information about AKC Reunite’s Adopt a K-9 Cop program, and updates on the AKC Canine Health Foundation’s funding for research on canine tick-borne diseases. In Session is distributed to members of Congress and Congressional staff.
On the state level, the New Hampshire Dog Owners of the Granite State worked with AKC GR to favorably amend a problematic state dog breeder law. This success illustrates what a tenacious and dedicated group of dog owners can accomplish by working together and not giving up.
Breed-specific laws on the books in many cities and counties continue to discriminate against owners of certain breeds and mixed breeds. AKC GR hosted an informational table at a meeting of the National Council of Insurance Legislators to educate lawmakers about the mischaracterization of certain breeds that results in discriminatory homeowner insurance policies.
In support of these initiatives to end dog breed discrimination, a new article by AKC GR, “Breed-Specific Laws Punish Responsible Dog Owners”, appeared in media across the US. This article discusses the ineffectiveness and high enforcement costs of breed-specific laws. Advocates who seek to overturn and pre-empt breed-specific measures are urged to add the article to the tools available on AKC GR’s Key Issues webpage on Breed-Specific/Dangerous Dog Laws.
Elsewhere, AKC GR provided facts and positive policy information about dogs and dog issues at annual meetings of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and the National Association of Counties (NACo).
The non-partisan ALEC conference provided discussions with state legislators and state-level policy makers interested in pursuing sound animal welfare laws. The NACo booth was visited by county commissioners, animal control directors, administrators, and other staff who discussed issues in their counties ranging from concerns with dangerous dogs to building a dog park.
AKC GR invited local and state legislators to serve as Honorary Chairs at the San Diego AKC Meet the Breeds event on August 14-15. Some legislators shared photos of themselves with their dogs, which were posted on AKC social media. This not only raised AKC’s profile among California lawmakers, it also underscores that AKC, our clubs, and AKC club members are the best and most reliable sources of information about dogs.
On another legislative front, AKC GR has seen a recent increase in legislative proposals that seek to address the issue of unscrupulous pet sellers. However, many of these proposals have the opposite impact, and instead seek to restrict or ban quality humane and regulated sources of dogs. AKC supports reasonable consumer protection policies that will better protect sellers, buyers, and dogs, and has released a new resource with talking points for advocates and lawmakers.
You can help continue to make a difference on behalf of the dogs we love! For assistance in supporting positive laws and opposing/amending problematic measures, please contact AKC GR at firstname.lastname@example.org for information on how you, your club, and your fellow dog advocates can get involved.