Summer is a busy time for many local communities. Fourth of July festivities, community festivals, and local fairs are just a few of the broad variety of events that take place in communities across the country. It is also a great time to start planning a Responsible Dog Ownership (RDO) Day for September. The AKC is offering free resources to the first 500 organizations to register their Responsible Dog Ownership Day community event. All these events are terrific opportunities to promote responsible ownership and educate the public about dogs and canine legislation issues!
Get Involved in the Community This Summer
Many of the problems that arise in canine legislation stem from a lack of understanding and knowledge about dogs and all the good things that dog clubs and breeders do to ensure the health of dogs and to encourage responsible dog ownership. The more visible clubs are in the community, the more the public – and legislators and candidates – can actually see all the good things your club does.
Think about ways you can promote upcoming dog shows and distribute public education and canine legislation materials. Depending on the venue and event, you may also want to consider creating posters with photos of your dogs or events and creating a handout with information about your club. You may also want to consider offering free or discounted AKC Canine Good Citizen tests.
Here are a few suggestions on things you can do this summer to show the public you promote responsible dog ownership:
Once you decide to participate in an event, be sure to tell your local and state lawmakers. Let them know where you will be and invite them to stop by if they are attending. If you have contests or drawings, have them present the awards. Even if they do not come, you have demonstrated to them that you are involved in the community, and they will recognize your club’s name when you ask to meet with them on canine legislation in the future.
- Set up a booth at a community festival/local fair – Local newspapers and media web sites usually provide community event calendars and contact information. Ask about setting up a booth or passing out materials. Look to see if there are pet or dog-specific events in your area. In addition, think about other events, such as Fourth of July festivals, where pet-lovers will be likely to congregate (and bring their dogs). Be creative – perhaps consider providing a small plastic pool of water as a “dog cooling station”, etc. Ideas like this will make encourage attendees to stop at your booth, and will tangibly demonstrate your desire to promote the health and welfare of dogs.
- Participate in a local parade – Consider having some members of your club walk with their dogs in a local parade. Have them carry signs identifying the various breeds. If it is too late (or too hot) to participate in a summer parade, think about holiday (such as Labor Day, Columbus Day, Thanksgiving, etc.) and other parades your community may host throughout the year.
- Host an educational event at your local library – Local libraries often host educational classes on a broad range of topics. Consider organizing an event on proper dog care, AKC’s Canine Good Citizen program, how to pick the right breed for your family, etc. If you can (and are permitted by the library), bring well-trained dogs to meet the public. Use this also as an opportunity to talk about dog issues in your community (for example, if shelter population rate is a concern, talk about the importance of being a responsible dog owner and the local leash and at-large dog laws).
- Organize a Responsible Dog Ownership Day for September – We encourage all clubs, federations and other dog organizations to become involved in AKC Responsible Dog Ownership (RDO) Days this September. This is a fun, family-friendly opportunity to educate members of your community about their rights and responsibilities as dog owners. Invite local legislators to attend and demonstrate how your club or organization is promoting responsible dog ownership in your community. Events may be held anytime throughout the month of September.
Register your event on the AKC's RDO Days web site by August 1, 2010. If you are one of the first 500 organizations to confirm your event details, you will receive a complementary package of materials, including posters, brochures, stickers and many other resources. For more information, to see event ideas, and to register your event, visit AKC’s RDO Day web site. For suggestions on how to include lawmakers in your event, read the RDO Day article in the April 2010 issue of Taking Command
The AKC Government Relations and Public Education Departments have a wealth of materials that you can download and print for the general public and lawmakers. Distributing these materials at your event will help you educate the public about responsible dog ownership and canine legislation.
For downloadable canine legislation materials, visit the AKC Government Relations Toolbox. For downloadable public education materials, visit the Public Education Reproducibles page.
Let us know about the activities your club participates in this summer and send us pictures. We may include them in an upcoming issue of Taking Command to inspire others with creative ideas for promoting and protecting responsible dog ownership and breeding throughout the country.