As you can see in the state and local updates, the breadth, depth and volume of canine legislation in 2011 is expanding more than ever before. AKC GR is tracking more than 800 state, federal and local bills so far this year, and that number increases every day.
Lawmakers are elected to represent you – the taxpayer and voter. When a problematic dog bill is introduced, it is important for concerned local dog owners, fanciers and breeders to speak up and be heard by their elected officials. The voices of resident responsible dog owners are vitally important when bad legislation is introduced in your state, county or city. No one can make a greater difference in the process.
Most elected officials really do have good intentions and are responsive to input from their local constituents. Legislators want to hear from constituents and to know what is important to them. After all, their future election may depend on it! And since most elected officials are not familiar with dog issues, they aren't likely to know about or understand the issues unless they learn about them from you. This is why it is so important for you to take action and respectfully let legislators know about your concerns.
When you contact your legislators, you help them better understand dog issues, the unintended consequences of some of these bills and you help them to help you!
Already this year, this kind of direct constituent action changed the course of two very restrictive state-level bills.
In Illinois, a bill was introduced that would have required a special permit for anyone to own seven or more companion animals. That would have included any animal that is commonly considered to be a pet. Moreover, it introduced a definition of "companion animal hoarder" that would include, in part, anyone who owns at least seven companion animals. The Illinois Federation of Dog Clubs and Owners immediately approached the sponsor and expressed their concerns with the bill.
In Maine, a breeder bill was introduced that would have created significant consequences for breeders and reversed many of the positive advancements that local clubs and dog owners have achieved over the past several years. Members of the Federation of Maine Dog Clubs and Responsible Dog Owners met with the sponsor and local constituents made phone calls, faxed letters and sent emails.
In both Illinois and Maine, the sponsors agreed to withdraw the bills and admitted that they were unaware of the impact of their legislation.
As shown by these results in Maine and Illinois, constituent dog owners who are willing to take the time to contact and educate their legislators can make a difference!
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