What’s New from AKC Government Relations
September means the end of summer, going back to school, and for some states it also signifies the convening of legislative sessions after summer breaks, and a final push on bills before the end of the year. We encourage you to continue to keep an eye on our Legislative Action Center for the latest information and alerts, and also make sure that your club has a dedicated Legislative Liaison who has given up-to-date contact information to AKC GR to ensure that you don’t miss any important alerts.
But as the leaves begin to change, one thing has not – together we are making a difference in the fight to protect our dogs and our rights as responsible owners and breeders. In September this became evident again in the many issues that arose in local communities across the county: In Hattiesburg, Mississippi, lawmakers accepted a number of changes recommended by the AKC and local dog owners despite opposition and criticism; In Bakersfield, California, and Prince George’s County, Maryland, problematic proposals were delayed after the lawmakers heard from the AKC, AKC federations, and local clubs expressing concerns and asking for amendments and changes. We appreciate that lawmakers are willing to listen to our position and suggestions to ensure fair, reasonable, and effective laws.
AKC GR staff continue to focus on proactive outreach as well to educate lawmakers and stakeholders. This month, Sheila Goffe testified in a hearing in Boston, Massachusetts, on the value of service dogs and the essential tasks they perform for their owners, as well as the importance of legislation that would penalize those who misrepresent their dogs in order to gain certain benefits.
L to R: Cathy Zemaitis (NEADS), Rep Kim Ferguson, Ellen Leigh, Audrey Treischman (NEADS), Sheila Goffe
Also in September, AKC hosted our first-ever Canines at the Capitol event in Sacramento, California, where public officials and staff were able to relieve some stress in the last week of session by petting a dog and learning more about the AKC and the positive impact AKC and its clubs have in California. GR staff also attended Pet Night in Washington, DC, where we demonstrated AKC’s expertise and value to Congressional members and staff, and participated in Groom Expo, where we educated thousands of groomers about legislative trends and the importance of being advocates for their industry.
As we continue into the fall and winter months, we encourage clubs to consider ways to be proactive in your community. This may include helping your community with disaster preparedness, participating in fall festivals and providing responsible dog ownership information, and other programs that benefit dogs and residents. Be sure as well to tell your local lawmakers so they are aware of all the positive things you are doing to make a difference for dogs.
Thank you for all you do – your actions continue to make a difference!