Sharyn Hutchens is an AKC Delegate and Legislative Liaison for the Shenandoah Valley Kennel Club and the American Whippet Club. She is also a representative of AKC’s Virginia Federation, the Virginia Federation of Dog Clubs & Breeders.
At the December meeting of the Shenandoah Valley Kennel Club, AKC Legislative Liaison Sharyn Hutchens described the tremendous assistance that a state legislator provided to all responsible Virginia dog owners earlier in the year when he introduced a bill in the state legislature to protect the rights of responsible Virginia dog owners. Although the bill failed and the legislator was widely criticized by animal rights groups, the legislator firmly defended the rights of responsible breeders. It was clear that dog owners had a true and valuable friend.
When the AKC Political Action Committee (PAC) learned about this lawmaker’s efforts, they also recognized the value of this legislator to the future of responsible Virginia dog owners and thanked him with a donation to support his re-election campaign. AKC PAC donations are critical to ensuring the success of such legislators in their re-election campaigns, and demonstrate that legislators who support the rights of responsible breeders will also be supported by grateful dog owners – both at the polls and by the AKC PAC.
Hutchens asked every single member of the club to recognize the importance of the support given by the PAC to the Virginia legislator by making a $5 donation to the AKC PAC. The club had unprecedented success: 100% of their members contributed. Now the Shenandoah Valley Kennel Club is asking other clubs to do the same.
“Club support is critical to the success of the PAC. Until the AKC PAC was formed, we had no way to organize to support candidates who are not only dog friendly, but dog owner friendly,” said Hutchens. “Now we do. The rest is up to us. If every member of every AKC club contributes just $5, the PAC will have $750,000 to work with – enough to make a real difference.”
“As we know, the animal rights movement has a great deal of influence in legislative matters. Through the AKC PAC, we can begin to level the political playing field,” said Hutchens.
One hundred percent of the money donated to the AKC PAC goes directly to support the campaigns of candidates who share a commitment to reasonable laws that protect breeders' rights and promote responsible dog ownership and breeding. Although funds cannot be earmarked for specific candidates, contributors can recommend candidates they believe deserve AKC PAC support.
The AKC PAC is funded by solely by individual contributions. Federal election laws prevent the AKC from donating directly to the fund, but it does provide administrative support so that all contributor funds can go directly to deserving candidates.
Hutchens encourages all other clubs to follow their lead. “Clubs reaching 100% participation will be recognized by AKC, and every person who donates will receive an ‘I Own a Dog and I Vote’ window cling. It's not difficult to reach 100%. Every club has a few ‘ghost members’ who never show up or participate in meetings, but every club also has a few members who don't mind donating a bit extra in the names of those members,” said Hutchens.
Click here to learn more about the AKC PAC and how you or your club can help.