December was a very busy month for the AKC GR team. In addition to legislative/policy tracking, updates and advocacy, the team also updated and prepared a number of new resources highlighted in this newsletter. These include two new Key Issues webpages on pet choice/sales bans and service dogs; and new resources on the legal status of dogs, breed-specific laws, and new tips and guidance on how to advocate for your rights as dog owners. All of this is available for you at www.akcgr.org.
Entering 2021 may still look a little different from how we imagined. However, with good news on the horizon related to COVID-19, many dog shows, particularly those later in the year are hoping to go forward as planned. But if you plan on traveling with an emotional support animal (ESA), there are some new rules that you need to consider before booking your next trip.
The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) is responsible for carrying out the Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA) and creates and enforces rules that define the rights of passengers and the obligations of airlines under that law. In a new rule finalized earlier this month, the DOT stated that airlines will no longer be required to treat the ESAs, for which no specific training is required, as service animals.
The American Kennel Club applauds the new rule. The AKC has been particularly concerned about the unjust impact that poorly trained dogs and misrepresentation of pets as service dogs has had on undermining the ability of individuals with disabilities who truly need properly trained service dogs to conduct their daily activities.
In conjunction with this new ruling, we’re pleased to announce the introduction of our new Key Issues page about service dog policy and issues. Like other GR Key Issues webpages, this page contains issue analyses, resources and talking points for clubs, individuals and lawmakers. In addition, it highlights concerns about fraudulent misrepresentation of pets as service dogs and contains policy updates. The page also includes information about the American Service Dog Access Coalition, a charitable organization co-founded by AKC to establish standards for voluntary credentialing to streamline access for service dog users and venue providers.
Finally, with elections over (mostly) and the holidays upon up, please don’t forget that now is an excellent to start introducing yourselves to your legislators. Check out our latest blog with tips and guidance on how to start developing these important relationships to protect our dogs and our sport. As local dog owners recently learned in Westtown Township, Pennsylvania, contacting lawmakers early, and working with the AKC Government Relations team and your state federation to educate them, can make a positive difference before laws are passed.
As always, AKC GR is here to partner with you and help you. Be sure too that you keep checking our Legislative Action Center as we continue to add new and updated tools and information to help you be effective advocates for your dogs.
We wish you and yours a happy and safe holiday season.