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The American Kennel Club® announced recently that the Illini Great Dane Club (IGDC) of Wesmont, Illinois has been named a recipient of the AKC® Community Achievement Award for expanding its yearly match show into an extensive AKC Responsible Dog Ownership Day (RDO Day) event. The IGDC received one of three awards for the first quarter of 2008- Delaware County Kennel Club and Lexington 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.

The Illini Great Dane Club recognizes the importance of educating their community about responsible dog ownership, and decided to expand their annual AKC match show into a public event. “As in previous years, we contacted those in the Great Dane community with information about our match event,” says club president Donna Snider. “However, this time we were targeting a much larger audience and broader base of participants.”

Held in Joliet's Pilcher Park, the daylong event consisted of both fun events and educational presentations, including agility, obedience and police K-9 demos; CGC testing; microchipping; a cardiac clinic; grooming and other pet services; and a children's art contest. A highlight of the day was the canine swimsuit competition, held in honor of the event's “Beach Day” theme.

The club publicized their RDO Day well in advance with posters, press releases, web postings and flyers. Their efforts drew hundreds of people to the event, where club members were able to educate the public about responsible ownership, dog care and AKC events, as well as introduce visitors to the club's favored breed, the Great Dane.

“Toward the end of our event,” says Snider, “I was approached by a lady who said she always thought Great Danes were mean dogs and was surprised at how sweet and gentle they were. I knew at this point we had succeeded in our efforts.”

“The AKC applauds the Illini Great Dane Club for incorporating new events and educational presentations into its yearly match show,” said Noreen Baxter, AKC's VP of Communications.  “Club members educated the public about their particular breed while spreading the message about the importance of responsible ownership in their community. We thank the club for its efforts to educate local dog lovers.”

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. Nominate a club.