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New York, NY — The American Kennel Club (AKC ®) announced today that Gail A. LaBerge of Buford , Georgia , has been named a recipient of the AKC Community Achievement Award for her efforts defending and protecting the interests of the canine community. The Georgia Canine Coalition, a group in which she serves as a board member and volunteer registered lobbyist, nominated LaBerge. LaBerge was one of two honorees this quarter – Julie Slobodnjak, of Virginia Beach, Virginia, 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.

“A 'legislative superstar,' Gail has spent years working with Georgia officials to make sure that the interests of purebred dog owners are well represented,” said Noreen Baxter, AKC 's VP of Communications. “Her involvement in several AKC dog clubs and legislative groups shows her dedication to promoting and upholding the sport we all love. We are pleased to present Gail with the AKC Community Achievement Awards and thank her for all of her efforts.”

“Gail LaBerge is a tireless and extremely effective defender of the rights of dog owners in the state of Georgia,” wrote nominator Bonnie Turner, a board member of the Georgia Canine Coalition, in her nominating letter. “Her efforts have earned her the respect of local and state officials, and a reputation as an advocate for fair and reasonable legislation as it relates to the state's breeders, kennels and pet owners.”

Through her work with the Georgia Canine Coalition, Gail LaBerge helped spearhead efforts that resulted in the withdrawal of a breed-specific bill in the 2005 session of the state legislature, assisted in the rewriting of the Georgia Veterinarian Practice Act and has helped redraft animal-related legislation. LaBarge travels the state to speak on canine legislation issues and how to combat laws that discriminate against dogs and their owners.

In addition to her involvement with the Georgia Canine Coalition, LaBerge is a member of the Georgia Department of Agriculture's Companion Animal Advisory Board and chairs the Cardigan Welsh Corgi Club of America legislative committee. She also serves as an AKC Legislative Liaison representing the Georgia Canine Coalition, Lawrenceville Kennel Club and the Cardigan Welsh Corgi Club of America. In the role of chairman of the Gwinett County Animal Advisory Council, LaBerge was instrumental in the successful rewriting of the county's animal ordinances and restructuring of the county Animal Advisory Council.

Nominations for the AKC Community Achievement Awards are accepted year-round. Up to three honorees are named each quarter. They receive a certificate 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.