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The last month has been a busy and exciting time for AKC Government Relations. Nearly all state legislatures are in session or preparing to hold legislative sessions. The 118th U.S. Congress is in session, and many local communities are also actively considering new dog laws. We’re pleased to share highlights of these actions and our activities throughout this newsletter.

In late January, AKC GR held our first in-person AKC National Legislative Conference since the COVID outbreak. More than 50 legislative liaisons, federation leaders, AKC club members, trainers, dog owners and advocates from across the United States traveled to Raleigh, North Carolina, for the event. The 2-day conference updated attendees on trends in canine legislation and animal extremism; empowered attendees with tools, resources, and information to be effective advocates for dogs in their local communities; Topics included fundamentals of successful advocacy, tips for successful legislative meetings, the impact of the international animal rights movement, successful federation building, developing high impact communications and more.

Earlier this month, the Healthy Dog Importation Act of 2023  was introduced in the United State Senate. The Healthy Dog Importation Act goes a long way to help protect pets and the public from potentially dangerous, non-native zoonotic diseases or pathogens entering the country via the more than one-million dogs imported into the U.S. each year.

The Healthy Dog Importation Act requires all dogs imported into the have a valid health certificate from a licensed veterinarian accredited by a recognized veterinary authority, be permanently identified, and subject to checks or inspection at the port of entry. It does not ban imports from any specific country, if they can meet these basic requirements.

Community outreach and awareness building is crucial to our mission of protecting the wellbeing of all dogs and the rights of responsible dog owners.  In the last month, the GR team advocate for responsible dog ownership and dog owners to lawmakers all over the country. The largest of the events was AKC’s  Meet the Breeds event in New York City.  More than two dozen lawmakers and legislative staff joined over 20,000 members of the general public at the Javits Center i on January 28 and 29, to meet over 130 different dog breeds in booths that depict each breed’s country of origin, historical purpose, and function. Visitors were also able to view fun and entertaining demonstrations of dog sports and working dogs exhibiting their skills.

AKC GR staff also met with lawmakers at educational days at the Kansas State House with the  Kansas Pet Professionals and at Massachusetts Municipal Association Annual Meeting.

Last, but certainly not least, AKC GR is pleased to welcome Bob Rilling-Smith to the team.  Bob is the new Legislative Analyst/Community Outreach Coordinator for. Western States including California, Oregon, Washington, Nevada, Montana, and Idaho. He is located in California and is responsible for monitoring state and local legislation impacting dog ownership in those states. Bob will be working closely with clubs and federations to coordinate events and increase community engagement advance purpose-bred dogs, encourage responsible dog ownership and protect the rights of dog owners.  Click here to view an updated regional assignments map for the GR team.