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New York, NY – The Bakersfield Obedience Training Club (BOTC) of Bakersfield, Calif. has been named a recipient of the American Kennel Club® (AKC®) Community Achievement Award for its work with legislators to promote effective canine legislation and collaborate with local shelters. The BOTC received one of three awards for the second quarter of 2009 (Penn Ridge Kennel Club and Lori Finlayson of the Mid-Continent Kennel Club also received recognition).

The AKC Community Achievement Awards support and recognize outstanding public education and legislation efforts of AKC-affiliated clubs, AKC-recognized federations and their members. The AKC selects award recipients who promote purebred dogs and responsible dog ownership within their communities or who have successfully introduced, monitored and responded to legislative issues affecting dog ownership.

Serving the southern Joaquin Valley since 1961, the Bakersfield Obedience Training Club was instrumental in preventing the passage of mandatory spay/neuter legislation when it was given serious consideration by Kern County and municipal lawmakers.

BOTC action at the city, county, and state levels would not have been possible without a concerted effort from every club member. The club attended the monthly meetings of the county animal-control commission, and urged other area clubs to attend meetings and espouse the position of responsible breeders and owners. The members drew up a legislative agenda and talking points, and engaged the county supervisors individually.

BOTC also forged new alliances with other groups concerned with animal welfare, most notably the Kern County Animal Shelter and the local humane society. Club members and shelter workers didn't agree on everything, but both groups shared common goals they could achieve together.

The Bakersfield Obedience Training Club helped the shelters implement new programs for fund-raising and boosting adoption rates. This involvement included club members setting up a grooming program to make shelter dogs more presentable to potential owners, collecting warm bedding for the shelters and helping fund a spay/neuter voucher program for the pets of low-income families.

In the midst of all these time-consuming events, the BOTC continued to raise its community profile and educate pet owners with an AKC Responsible Dog Ownership Day, Canine Ambassador visits to schools and libraries, and support for military K-9 workers.

“The help of local club members and their grassroots efforts are critical in our efforts to prevent restrictive legislation in our communities,” said Ron Rella, AKC's Director, Project Administration. “The Bakersfield Obedience Training Club demonstrates how important it is for people to be involved in their local, state, and national legislatures so that we can be invited to the table when dog legislation is being considered in a community.”

Nominations for the AKC Community Achievement Awards are accepted year-round. Up to three honorees are named each quarter. They receive a certificate of appreciation and a $1,000 check payable to the club or federation's public education and canine legislation efforts. To nominate a club, visit Community Achievement Award.