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AKC Hosts Third-Annual Lobby Day
October 2005
Lobby Day 2005 participants (l-r): Sarah Sprouse, AKC Program Administrator for Canine Legislation; Melanie Steele, Delegate, Greyhound Club of America; Dr. Patty Haines, AKC Board Member and Delegate for the Cincinnati Kennel Club; Jackson Steele, Greyhound Club of America; Ann Lettis, Director, Responsible Dog Owners Association of New York; Gail Laberge, Board Member, Georgia Canine Coalition; Noreen Baxter, AKC Vice President of Communications; Mick Houchard, Delegate, Conyers Kennel Club; Joan Scott, Pembroke Welsh Corgi Club of America; Kathleen Parks, Delegate, South Hills Kennel Club; Stephanie Lane, AKC Director of Canine Legislation; Judy Hart, Delegate, Pembroke Welsh Corgi Club of America; Dr. James Holt, AKC Federal Government Relations Consultant (Missing from photo: Carmen and Jennifer Armstrong).

Purebred dog owners from across the country converged on the nation’s capitol September 21st and 22nd to participate in the American Kennel Club’s third-annual Lobby Day. Hosted by the Canine Legislation department, Lobby Day provides participants an opportunity to gain in-depth knowledge about issues that impact fanciers on the federal level. More importantly, attendees have a chance to carry the fancy’s concerns directly to Congress during pre-arranged meetings with their elected officials.

This year’s Lobby Day program was expanded to include a full day of education and issue briefing opportunities. Held at the Holiday Inn on the Hill in Washington, D.C., just a few blocks from the Capitol, the event included presentations by John Goldberg, Senior Staff Member for the House Agriculture Committee; Jeff Stoltzfoos, Project and Policy Assistant for Sen. Rick Santorum; Dr. James Holt, AKC’s Federal Government Relations Consultant; Noreen Baxter, AKC Vice President of Communications, and Stephanie Lane, AKC Director of Canine Legislation. Participants received valuable information about the federal legislative process, tips for effectively lobbying a Member of Congress, and substantial issue briefings on key agenda items. This year, AKC’s federal agenda focused on three main subjects: strengthening enforcement of the Animal Welfare Act through support of PAWS, encouraging open access to microchip technology for animal identification, and assuring access to air transport for dogs and those traveling with their animals.

Following a full day of programming, invitees enjoyed an opportunity to network at a cocktail hour and dinner hosted by the Canine Legislation department. They were joined by former Illinois Congressman and House Republican Leader Bob Michel and his assistant Sharon Yard, President of the American Sealyham Terrier Club. A dog lover, Congressman Michel spoke about his role in moving the Extra Label Drug bill through Congress a number of years ago. The legislation helped ensure that critical medications be made available to dogs. Ms. Yard shared facts about her breed club’s recent struggle to deal with large numbers of dogs being imported into the US.

The following morning began early with a continental breakfast before fanciers headed to Capitol Hill. Carrying AKC tote bags full of information packets and dog leashes to leave behind, participants met with their Congressmen, Senators, and staff to discuss issues and educate Members about all it means to be a responsible dog owner and breeder. Fanciers asked for support of AKC’s agenda items, and in many instances took the opportunity to share personal stories about their involvement in the sport and about public education efforts their clubs and federations contribute to their states. The excitement of walking through the halls of Congress and truly being part of the legislative process was clear from everyone’s faces as they went from one meeting to the next.

Later that day, Lobby Day attendees continued their outreach to legislators by participating in “Pet Night” on Capitol Hill. Hosted by the Animal Health Institute and co-sponsored by AKC and other animal organizations, Pet Night is an informal reception held annually to share concerns and once again promote our positions on federal legislation. For the first time, those who attended Lobby Day were able to help represent AKC at Pet Night, where they mingled with over 500 Members of Congress and their staff as well as representatives from other major animal organizations such as American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA), Cat Fanciers Association (CFA) and Hartz. The fun, casual event made for a wonderful climax to this year’s two-day Lobby Day program.