On Wednesday, April 20th, the Massachusetts Federation of Dog Clubs and Responsible Dog Owners (Mass Fed) held its first-ever Lobby Day at the State House in Boston. The following is a summary of a report submitted by Charlotte McGowan, the federation’s Legislative Liaison. We extend our congratulations to all who participated in this very successful event, and we encourage other clubs and federations to develop similar programs in their own states.
“The idea for a Mass Fed Lobby Day was born after three Mass Fed Members—Julie Seeley, Virginia Rowland and myself—attended AKC's Lobby Day last year. We began our planning in March, when we had a general meeting to serve as a “Lobbying 101 seminar.” At the meeting, I explained the Massachusetts Governmental process, the General Court website, how bills progress through the Massachusetts Legislature and which committees are most important related to dog bills. Julie Seeley gave an excellent synopsis of how to be heard by your legislator by working in your district, getting involved and staying in touch. (Julie and her Representative have been an important part of Mass Fed's recent successes.) Nancy Fisk, Vice President of Mass Fed and Lobby Day Chair, gave a talk on what it's like to lobby when you have never done it before to encourage people to try it and find out it's really fun.
From our organizational meeting, we developed a list of potential lobbyists. In the end, 19 fanciers actually came to the Mass Fed Lobby Day although it felt like more because people were so busy talking to so many aides and legislators! Julie Seeley and Nancy Fisk created two very excellent display boards with photos of dogs in action and at rest that attracted a lot of attention. Julie did an ace job of having all our materials printed up including name tags and business cards for Mass Fed officers and blank cards others who lobbied could use to leave their contact information with their legislators. Fact sheets were created and printed on the four major lobby items of the day:
- Opposition to breeder licensing (H1346)
- Support of a good generic dangerous dog bill (H553)
- Support for a shelter reporting bill to start regulation of shelters that import thousands of stray and feral dogs to Mass. shelters (HD 2315)
- Support for a bill to ban discrimination against dog owners with regard to homeowners insurance (HD 4390)
With the help of Julie's Representative Jamie Eldrige, we reserved Nurse's Hall at the State House which is on a major traffic pattern for legislators and aides. We served light breakfast refreshments which helped bring people in. Our two-and-a-half hour reception resulted in many legislators or their aides receiving information about these bills and about Mass Fed. Our lobbyists also fanned out to lobby members of key committees as well as their own individual Senators and Representatives. Holly Stump, breeder of American Staffordshire Terriers, served as the point person on our dangerous dog bill and got to answer questions people had about “pit bulls.”
Certainly our lobby day would not have gone as smoothly if a number of our lobbyists had not had the great experience of AKC's Lobby Day. Using the Canine Legislation Department’s Capitol Hill event as a model, we furnished our lobbyists with tote bags with the Mass Fed logo, and we had leashes printed with “Love your dog, Leash your dog – Mass Federation of Dog Clubs” just as we had seen AKC do it. These were very well received. The tote bags created visibility for our group and the leashes made clear our role as responsible dog owners. So I guess we learned our lessons well!
Lobby Day and the reception were made possible in part by generous recent donations from the Wachusett Kennel Club, the Yankee Golden Retriever Club and the AKC Community Achievement Award AKC honored me with. This was a great day for purebred dogs owners in our state!”
|Fanciers speak with legislators about responsible dog ownership and the sport of purebred dogs at the Massachusetts Federation of Dog Clubs' Lobby Day event. Pictured left to right – Holly Stump, Sen. Brewer, Virginia Rowland, Julie Rembrandt-Seeley, Nancy Fisk, and Rep. James Eldridge.|
On Wednesday, April 20th, the Massachusetts Federation of Dog Clubs and Responsible Dog Owners (Mass…