Some of the leading minds in canine legislative policy met on January 28-29 in Raleigh, North Carolina, to network, share experiences, and learn more about issues that impact responsible dog owners.
The AKC Legislative Conference brought together AKC legislative liaisons and AKC state federation representatives for two days of educational presentations and panel discussions on current legislative and regulatory measures, emerging trends, court actions, and how to prepare for and respond to threats to responsible dog ownership.
Representatives of AKC clubs and federations in 22 states from California to Maine attended the conference. Attendees who arrived on Friday participated in a tour of the AKC operations center in Raleigh, where they were welcomed by AKC Chief Operating Officer John Lyons and AKC Director of Government Relations Sheila Goffe.
Suzanne Anglewicz, Manager of Political & Legislative Activities for the National Rifle Association - Institute for Legislative Action (NRA-ILA) spoke on working with volunteer advocates and inspiring grassroots action. She discussed the importance of motivating stakeholders to do more than just “make a point” by empowering them to “make a difference.”
North Carolina Senator David Rouzer provided a legislator’s perspective and answered questions based on his experiences as a member of the North Carolina Senate, his work in the legislative and executive branches of the federal government, and his senior-level appointments to federal agencies. Senator Rouzer spoke about the value he places on reasonable and reliable information that he receives from voters within in his district. He encouraged citizens to get to know key legislative staff members, who often assist and advise lawmakers on issues surrounding proposed legislation.
Linda Hart of the Colorado Federation of Dog Clubs, Michele Kasten of the Illinois Federation of Dog Clubs and Owners, Gail LaBerge of the Georgia Canine Coalition, and Julian Prager of the Pennsylvania Federation of Dog Clubs shared their experiences in a forum on federation building. Topics included establishing expertise and credibility as dog experts, and uniting dog clubs and owners behind a common message.
Lisa Peterson, AKC Communications Director, provided media training for dog advocates, which included a break-out session and mock interviews on current topics in canine legislation. Lisa played the role of reporter in practice sessions that underscored the importance of preparing for media opportunities.
AKC General Counsel Margaret Poindexter gave an overview of the AKC Inspections Program, which upholds standards of care and conditions for AKC registered dogs.
Attorneys Sheila Kessler and Marty Greer, DVM, of Animal Legal Resources, LLC, relayed a cautionary tale about a dog seizure case in Wisconsin, wherein impounded dogs suffered loss of condition and could not be accurately identified prior to return to the owner.
AKC Government Relations staff provided information and resources that conference attendees could take home to educate and empower club members and concerned dog owners in their states and communities. “Train the trainers” sessions discussed the basics of canine legislation, advocacy, bill analysis, and how to effectively utilize AKC GR tools, materials and online resources.
Networking. . . and More Networking
“The energy that everyone brought to this conference has been tremendous,” Goffe said. “Responsible dog owners and breeders from across the country are dealing with many of the same restrictive issues – and even some of the same bills. It’s exciting to be able to bring them together so they can share and learn from each other’s experiences. The best part is knowing they are developing relationships that will enable them to share ideas and work together in the future.”
The AKC Legislative Conference was made possible by financial support from the AKC Canine Legislative Support Fund (CLSF). The conference had been rescheduled from the original date in August 2011 due to Hurricane Irene.
Photos by Tim Golden ©AKC