2009 has been a year of many challenges and many victories for responsible dog owners, fanciers, and breeders. The AKC Government Relations Department (GR) has been pleased to work with thousands of dog owners around the country in support of responsible dog ownership.
Outreach in 2009 demonstrated that grassroots advocacy works. The many successes enjoyed in 2009 would not have been possible without the tireless efforts of the AKC federations, as well as numerous clubs, fanciers, and breeders who communicated with their legislators and helped educate their communities. Time and again this year we saw legislators withdraw or defeat bills as a result of the concerns of their constituents who took the time to explain the issues.
Here are a few examples of our successes (for a complete list, view our 2009 Legislative Successes web page):
AKC GR anticipates a large number of challenges again in 2010 at the federal, state, and local levels, but this year demonstrated that the united voice of responsible dog owners, fanciers, and breeders can be a powerful tool. In 2009, three states established new AKC federations (Indiana, Kansas, and Illinois) to provide a united voice for their state and local communities. We encourage clubs to join their state’s AKC federation or consider developing one with other AKC clubs and responsible dog owners/breeders in your state.
Below are summaries of 2009 state and local canine legislative activity. For more information on specific legislation, or to learn more about how you can join our fight, contact the AKC Government Relations Department at (919) 816-3720 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
State Legislative Overview
Arguably the most prominent and controversial issue addressed in 2009 was breeder/kennel regulations. Our breeder legislation matrix shows how many bills followed a set formula that sought to place a cap on animal ownership, allow for unannounced inspections without probable cause, and impose numerous arbitrary and unenforceable requirements. Fortunately, strong education and advocacy efforts helped make a difference on these bills, as many of them failed or were significantly improved through the amendment process. In 2010 we expect to see this trend continue, along with an increase in attempts by animal rights groups to bring anti-breeder proposals directly to the general public in the form of election-day ballot initiatives.
The GR Department responded to approximately 120 local/municipal issues this year as well. Again, as with the state legislatures, we saw numerous successes resulting from grassroots advocacy and community education (Such as in Mashpee, MA, where numerous fanciers and dog owners held events and distributed literature that succeeded in defeating a ban on “pit bulls”).
Local proposals vary widely depending on the situation in various communities. As illustrated by the chart below, approximately 40 percent of the issues we addressed in 2009 dealt with breed restrictions or bans, demonstrating the need for further outreach and education in this policy area.