Taking Command

August 2009

From our Nation's Capitol
Congress is currently in recess for the month of August. They will be back in session in September and considering a number of issues of interest to dog owners. Read about those issues here.
News from the State Capitols
There are 4 state legislatures currently in session. Forty-six legislatures have adjourned, are in recess, or in a special session. To date, the Government Relations Department has tracked over 830 state bills relating to animal legislation and policy. For the latest information on these and other bills, visit our 2009 Legislation Tracking page. This page, updated daily, provides the latest bill text, status, and any Legislative Alerts posted by the AKC.

For more information on any of the measures mentioned, contact us at (919) 816-3720 or doglaw@akc.org.

Here are some of the highlights.
Local Battles
The AKC Government Relations Department is tracking over 70 local proposals that could affect your rights as dog owners. If you hear of an issue in your community, contact us at (919) 816-3720 or doglaw@akc.org. We will be happy to provide you with the resources, tools, and support you need to help fight for the rights of responsible dog owners and advocate for responsible dog ownership in your community. Here are a few of the local issues we are currently working on.
AKC Investigations & Inspections Help Educate Responsible Breeders
Golden RetrieverThere are many wonderful programs that set the American Kennel Club (AKC®) apart from all other dog registries. The AKC, for example, is the only all-breed, not-for-profit dog registry in the United States that has a significant kennel inspection program. The AKC Investigations and Inspections Department conducts inspections because it is vital to the AKC's commitment of promoting responsible dog ownership and breeding practices, and protecting the integrity of our registry. Read more.

Tell your legislators about this program! Print this one-page flier to distribute to public officials to show that the AKC takes a stand when it comes to responsible dog ownership and care.
Show Your Legislators You Support Responsible Dog Ownership!
The most successful advocates at state legislatures are those who have developed relationships with their public officials. One of the best ways to do this is by inviting them to your club meetings and community events.

Throughout the month of September, hundreds of clubs around the country are hosting Responsible Dog Ownership (RDO) Days. These educational events feature fun activities for all current and future dog owners. Each day is unique and can include such programs as "meet the breeds", obedience and agility demonstrations, instruction for children about safety around dogs, Canine Good Citizen tests, and information on local resources

RDO Days provide an excellent opportunity to show legislators and other public officials the good works that responsible dog owners contribute to their communities. When you invite lawmakers to your event, you also give them a great way to interact with their constituents and learn the benefits of supporting responsible dog owners. AKC's GR Department can help you invite legislators and local officials to your event. Contact us at (919) 816-3720 or doglaw@akc.org for assistance and suggestions.

For more information on RDO Days and how to schedule one in your area, visit the AKC's Responsible Dog Ownership Days web site.

AKC Responsible Dog Ownership Day

Know an Effective Advocate?
Nominate them for a Community Achievement Award!

The AKC Government Relations Department has seen numerous successes this year on both the state and local levels. Much of this success is due to the tireless efforts of state federations, clubs, and advocates who have worked countless hours to protect the rights of dog owners in their communities and states. If you know of a federation, club, or advocate that fits this description, nominate them for a Community Achievement Award!

AKC's Community Achievement Award is granted four times a year to honor exemplary public education or government relations efforts. Honorees will receive a certificate of recognition and their club or federation will receive a $1,000 grant to further their efforts to promote and protect responsible dog ownership. For more information on this award, and to complete a nomination form, visit AKC's web site.
Help AKC fight anti-dog legislation
August is a wonderful month. Kids are out of school, families take vacations, friends gather for picnics and barbeques – and most of your legislators are back in their home districts. By August, most state representatives have completed their yearly work at the state's Capitol and are looking towards legislative goals for next year's session. Your Federal representatives are also back home – one of the longest district work periods they have all year.

This is an ideal time to meet with your state and federal representatives. If there are representatives you haven't met before, call and make an appointment to stop by and introduce yourself. A first meeting should be no more than 10-15 minutes. If you already have a working relationship with your legislator, stop by to renew the acquaintance.

Introducing yourself and establishing a friendly relationship with a politician before legislation is pending is one of the best ways to develop access to your policymakers when you need it later on.

Here are some helpful suggestions to keep in mind when meeting with a public official:

Prepare yourself by going to your legislator's website to learn about their interests and bills they've been involved in. If you are informed, you will make a better impression. If they've done something you like (even if it's not related to dogs), be sure to mention that in your meeting.

When you meet with them, dress in a business or business-casual manner. Even if you aren't a fan of your legislator, this is a sign of your respect for their office.

If you prefer to not go alone, bring a friend or other club member who is also a constituent. Politicians love to meet new constituents!

Keep the message positive. Tell them a little about yourself and the dogs you own.

Tell them about your club and the activities that your club participates in, including any educational or service-oriented projects and programs. If possible, invite your representative to attend an upcoming club event or meeting. Perhaps your representative would even be interested in presenting an award at an upcoming event.

Provide your representative with your contact information and a few select materials about your local club and the AKC. Examples of good materials to provide include AKC's Above and Beyond, Deed not Breed, and The Economic Benefits of Dog Shows brochures. As a local dog expert, offer to serve as a resource if a dog-related issue comes up in the future. More often than not, legislators will be very grateful for this information and the assistance you can provide.

Most legislators don't know a lot about dogs or dog sports. This is your chance to give them a good first impression of dog breeders and fanciers. For more information about meeting with your representatives and current legislation, I invite you to visit the AKC Government relations web pages.

Enjoy the summer and be sure take this opportunity to meet with your legislators. Both you and your legislators will be glad you did!

All the best,

Sheila Goffe
Director of Government Relations
Contact Us
Phone: (919) 816-3720
Email: doglaw@akc.org
Government Relations
Legislative Alerts
2009 Legislation Tracking