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Editor's Note
October 2008

Election Day is nearly upon us. While most media is focused upon the race for the White House, many important state and local races also will be decided on November 4. And although most candidates and media are focused on economic and foreign policy issues, responsible dog breeders and owners are under legislative assault the likes of which has never been seen before. In 2008 to date, the AKC’s Government Relations Department monitored and addressed twice as many legislative issues at the state and local level as it did in 2007. This is why your political participation is crucial! It’s important that every dog owner and breeder take the time to learn where candidates stand on animal issues, and use that knowledge when voting.

Knowing the issues is an excellent place to begin. The AKC’s Board-approved canine legislation position statements cover the gamut of public policy issues facing responsible dog breeders and owners. Check them out by clicking here.

It’s not always easy to learn about the positions of candidates for state or local office, but the positions of these individuals could have an immediate and dramatic impact on your life with dogs. Here are some tips for learning more about the positions of local candidates. First, visit the candidate’s website. A simple web search on a candidate’s name will usually provide you with the candidate’s official campaign web site. Most campaign websites feature the candidate’s positions. Online search engines are also an excellent means of searching for recent news about candidates, but remember, the web is unregulated, so the validity of information is only as good as its source. Candidates’ social networking pages, like those found on Facebook or MySpace can also be a good resource. Unfortunately, because animal policy concerns are not usually “front-burner” issues in elections, many candidates’ sites don’t feature position statements on the matter. That’s why you may have to dig a little deeper and take a bit more action to learn where the candidates stand.

Many races for state-level office feature public debates. Find out when the debates will take place and plan to watch. (In preparation for many debates, questions from the voting public can be submitted and may be used. Don’t be shy! Request that the debate moderator ask your question and address your concerns.)

Sometimes the way to learn about a candidate is direct involvement. Attend campaign rallies, town hall-style meetings, or meet-and-greets. These may give you the opportunity for one-on-one time with the candidate. Take advantage of this opportunity by respectfully asking the candidates where they stand on animal-related issues. If the candidates don’t know specifics about those issues, use this time to educate them. Always leave them with materials that they or their staff can read and consider.

Finally, don’t underestimate the power of a phone call. Call a candidate’s campaign office and inquire about the candidate’s positions. While candidates for a state office may have staff members answering your questions, many local candidates may be able to answer your questions directly.

These easy steps can help ensure that you vote for the candidate who best understands your interests as a responsible dog breeder and owner.