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More than 60 AKC Legislative Liaisons from around the country gathered for the 2nd American Kennel Club Legislative Conference to discuss the strategies and tools necessary to fight anti-dog legislation.

The Conference, held January 25-26, 2014 in Raleigh, North Carolina, provided legislative liaisons an opportunity to exchange ideas, discuss what was working in their states and communities and share lessons learned with fellow dog advocates from across the United States.

“The purpose of the conference was to provide our legislative leaders with tools and information that will help them inspire and empower concerned dog owners in their clubs and communities to counter misinformation and fight bad canine policy,” said AKC Government Relations Director Sheila Goffe.

“It was an outstanding conference, probably one of the best I've attended put on by any organization,” said Linda Hart, Secretary and State Legislation Liaison of the Colorado Federation of Dog Clubs, Inc.


Representatives, lobbyists and public relations professionals were on-hand to speak with attendees. Presentations included:

  • Political Participation and Success, presented by Michael Williams, a Senior Policy Advisor with Barnes & Thornburg, LLP who has served as AKC’s federal affairs advisor and advocate since November 2008.
  • Taking Back the Conversation, presented by Sarah Longwell, a Senior Vice President at Berman and Company, a dynamic research, communications, advertising and government affairs firm in Washington, D.C.
  • Media Training for Dog Advocates, led by Bill McIntyre, Executive Vice President/Group Head, Grassroots & Public Affairs for Edelman, AKC’s public relations firm.
  • A Legislator’s Perspective on Animal Rights, presented by Rep. Tara Sad, who is currently serving her fourth term in the New Hampshire House of Representatives, where she serves as Chair of Environment and Agriculture Committee.
  • Political Involvement – From Fancier to Legislator, led by Rep. Janice Sparhawk Gardner, an AKC judge, delegate, legislative liaison and Representative of the citizens of Dover, New Hampshire Ward 3, Strafford District 15, to the New Hampshire General Court.
  • Tales from the Trenches: Federation Building and Community Outreach, presented by Michele Kasten and Jeffrey Ball, both longtime fanciers and Vice-President and President of the Illinois Federation of Dog Clubs and Owners and the New Jersey Federation of Dog Clubs, respectively.
  • Humane Relocation and the Animal Rights Movement, led by Patti Strand, the National Director of the National Animal Interest Alliance (NAIA), former AKC Board Member and a volunteer lobbyist since 1991.
  • The Breeder as Advocate, presented by Pat Hastings, a breeder, owner, handler and AKC judge who has taught seminars for 25 years around the world about evaluating litters and other aspects of the sport.


AKC staff also led a number of sessions: 

  • The Latest from AKC GR: Trends, Tools and Resources, presented by AKC Government Relations Director Sheila Goffe. Goffe oversees AKC legislative policy strategy and AKC outreach at the federal, state and local levels. She spoke about new legislative trends to watch in 2014 and the AKC resources available to clubs and federations.
  • Advocacy 101: Engaging Members in Effective Networking and Advocacy – Veterans at addressing legislation at the state and local levels, Manager of Canine Legislation Jennifer Clark and Legislative Analyst Sarah Sprouse talked about community activism, getting to know local officials and understanding the legislative process.
  • Using Technical Language to Your Advantage, presented by Senior Policy Analyst Phil Guidry, JD. Guidry discussed legislative analysis and provided tips and insight into reading legislative language and understanding how it can impact dog ownership.
  • Canine Litigation, led by AKC Vice President and General Counsel Margaret Poindexter, who discussed AKC’s involvement in appellate litigation of significance to the organization and dog owners.  

More than 60 AKC Legislative Liaisons from around the country gathered for the 2nd American Kennel…