Have you, as a breeder, been targeted or harassed after you participated in a legislative process, commented on a proposed law or regulation, or communicated your opinion on a dog-related issue? Let’s ask that question more plainly: Do you believe that something suspicious, threatening, or unjustified occurred just because you took action on an issue that affects your rights to own and breed dogs?
Each year, AKC Government Relations reviews thousands of proposed laws and regulations on the federal, state, and local levels of government. GR staff works with individuals, kennel clubs, state federations, and allies across the country to take action to protect our rights and to advocate on behalf of the dogs we love.
But we can’t do it alone – and we work with breeders and club members across the country who attend hearings in person and speak up for breeders, exhibitors, and responsible dog owners. AKC breeders and enthusiasts are experts on dogs, and an expert resource for their communities. Their voice in testifying at hearings, speaking out in defense of breeders, participating in educational days, or otherwise engaging the public in pro-breeder activities is crucial to the future of responsible dog ownership and purebred dogs. Often, when legislators are met with breeders with decades of expertise, they start to reconsider their, often well intended, but harmful past policy positions.
This success has started to create a ripple effect and animal rights groups are noticing. AKC has noticed an alarming trend of breeders being harassed or retaliated against by individuals who oppose breeding because the breeders have defended responsible breeding, commented on troublesome anti-breeder legislation and/or testified about it before state and local legislatures. This attempt to silence breeders is unacceptable and will not be tolerated.
Examples of harassment and retaliation include:
- Suspicious phone inquiries or visits to your home, kennel, or business
- Suspicious timing of anonymous complaints
- Threatening communications or social media bullying
- Suspicious inspections resulting in confiscation of animals with significant legal repercussions
- Trespassing, theft, and/or property damage
- Actions that may be intended as intimidation or retaliation
If you believe you have been victimized, first report any vandalism, theft, attack, trespass, or other illegal actions against you to the appropriate law enforcement authority. You may also wish to consult with an attorney. In addition, we encourage you to report your experience to the new AKC Anti-Breeder Harassment and Retaliation Task Force.
Introducing the Anti-Breeder Harassment and Retaliation Task Force
In 2020, AKC established an interdepartmental Anti-Breeder Harassment and Retaliation Task Force (HTF) to get a better understanding of the nature and scope of the breeder harassment problem.
Although it is not appropriate for AKC or its staff to serve as legal counsel in these instances, the taskforce is prepared to collect information supplied by breeders about these harmful activities to learn more about how dog owners are being targeted, and help create resources to help protect our breeders from becoming victims.
The Government Relations Department has created a webpage on the AKC GR Legislative Action Center to educate and provide resources to breeders, dog enthusiasts and the general public about the problem of breeder harassment, how to prevent and avoid it, and what to do if you believe you are a victim of harassment or retaliation by anti-breeder groups or individuals because of your breeding or political activities.
Because it is important to gather timely, valid information on this issue, AKC GR has also created an online form where breeders can confidentially report suspected harassment or retaliation.
Analysis of reports will allow the Anti-Breeder Harassment and Retaliation Task Force to document trends, such as the frequency, geographical distribution, timing, and nature of harassment. From this information, AKC can continue to develop materials, resources, and policy initiatives designed to educate about breeder harassment, discourage and prevent breeder harassment, and help breeders avoid becoming a target of harassment.
If you believe you are the victim of harassment or retaliation, first try to secure the safety of yourself, your family, and dogs by reporting illegal activity to law enforcement authorities. Take comprehensive notes with dates and times; save screenshots, photos, and videos; and carefully maintain this documentation. Consult with an attorney, particularly if you are subjected to illegal or prejudicial actions. The Anti-Breeder Harassment and Retaliation Task Force collects data and develops resources on breeder harassment; however; AKC cannot provide legal counsel.
When submitting a harassment report to AKC, please include:
- Information about your participation in a public or political process on a dog-related issue. This could include communicating with a lawmaker or public employee, attending a public meeting or hearing, speaking or testifying, writing a letter to the editor, commenting on a proposed rule/regulation, etc. Also provide information about participation by a household member, employee, or associate. Even something as simple as requesting a zoning variance or applying for a kennel license should be included in the report as a possible trigger for harassment.
- Information that caused you to believe that you (or a household member, employee, associate) experienced harassment or retaliation based on your participation in a public/political process or because you attempted to comply with kennel or breeder requirements.
- If your knowledge about the situation is first-hand.
For more information about AKC’s initiatives, visit www.akcgr.org/harassment or email questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.