Taking Command

July 2009

News from the State Capitols
The U.S. Congress and 10 state legislatures are currently in session. Forty states have adjourned their regular sessions. The Government Relations Department is currently tracking over 800 state bills relating to animal legislation and policy. For more information on these bills, visit our 2009 Legislation Tracking page.

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
In addition to the numerous state bills, the AKC Government Relations Department is also tracking over 70 local proposals that may 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 responsible dog ownership in your community.

Here are a few of the local issues we are currently working on.
AKC Weighs In on New AVMA Crop/Dock Policy Proposal
The Utah Veterinary Medical Association has proposed modifications to the AVMA's position on ear cropping and tail docking. Currently, the AVMA opposes ear cropping and tail docking. The proposal would acknowledge the procedures are supported by many, including the AKC, and emphasize the need for the procedures to be done by "trained, licensed, and caring veterinarians using current standard of care."

AKC President and CEO Dennis Sprung sent a letter to the AVMA supporting the proposal, stating that the amendment is "a step towards bridging the gap" between the AKC and AVMA policies. The AKC's official position on these procedures states, "The American Kennel Club recognizes that ear cropping, tail docking, and dewclaw removal, as described in certain breed standards, are acceptable practices integral to defining and preserving breed character and/or enhancing good health. Appropriate veterinary care should be provided." The proposal will be considered at the AVMA's annual meeting in July.

Tell Your Legislators It Pays to Support Purebred Dog Owners!
One of the most effective pieces of information you can share with public officials is the economic impact that dog shows and purebred dog owners have on state and local communities. While policy arguments about responsible dog ownership are extremely important, it is also important for legislators to hear that negative dog laws will impact not just dog owners, but the community at large.

The American Kennel Club Government Relations Department can provide you with state-specific information on the number of events held in your state and the number of dogs that participated. The AKC can also provide you with information on the economic benefits that purebred dog owners provide to your state each year. This number includes everything from basic dog care to events and helps public officials realize a very tangible way purebred dog owners support the community.

For more information, contact the Government Relations Department at (919) 816-3720 or doglaw@akc.org. We will send you a handout for your state that you may distribute to your club, colleagues, and public officials. You may also wish to download AKC's Economic Benefit of Dog Shows brochure, which details how dog shows generate revenue for local communities.

Mandatory Spay/Neuter — Why Exemptions Are Not Enough
Over the past few years, since the introduction of California's failed AB 1634, the AKC Government Relations department has seen an increase in mandatory spay/neuter (MSN) proposals at the state and local levels. In 2008, a measure was introduced in Arizona, and in 2009, similar laws were proposed in Florida, Alabama, and Texas. None of the measures gained traction, but the message is clear: there are people who want to make it very hard and very expensive to own an intact dog and to engage in responsible breeding. Read more.

View our printable one-page handout with talking points regarding MSN legislation to distribute to clubs, fanciers, and public officials.
Tips for Travelling With Your Dog
Planning a trip with your dog? The AKC Government Relations Department can help! Simply visit our web site and click on the “Airline Shipping Policies” icon at the bottom of the page. Here you will find a variety of resources to help you plan air and ground travel with your dog.

This link includes a tool to help you easily identify domestic airline policies. Click on “Airline Carriers and links to their Pet Travel Policies” to view animal travel policies for all major United States airlines.

This site also includes a link to helpful “Canine Travel Tips” to ensure your trip is pleasant for both you and your dog!

If you have any additional questions, contact us at (919) 816-3720 or doglaw@akc.org.

There's an old maxim that "All politics is local." Conventional wisdom tells us that all the issues that politicians deal with and all the decisions they make come down to one simple formula: politicians are driven by the desire to stay in office, and where possible, to increase their influence. To stay in office, politicians must get re-elected; and to get re-elected they must be responsive to their constituents – the people who can vote for or against them at election time.

This is why your participation in the political process is crucial. Politicians are far more interested in hearing from people who live in their districts than from "outsiders," regardless of the expertise that outsiders may be able to provide. This is why the AKC Government Relations Department focuses its advocacy efforts on assisting state- and local-level clubs and organizations in the fight against anti-dog laws. Visit the GR web pages for information on ways the AKC can help you in your efforts.

There are many levels at which you can participate and make a difference for responsible dog owners and breeders. Simply voting in all your elections (politicians can and do check to see who votes) gives you credibility when you contact policymakers about an issue. Volunteering on campaigns gives you an opportunity to get to know politicians personally. Also, educating the general public about responsible ownership – whether at a dog event, by visiting schools and community centers, or being active in various community events – demonstrates the commitment that purebred dog owners and breeders have to reasonable laws, responsible ownership, and ensuring their rights as a valued part of the community.

As our nation celebrates its birthday this month, let's renew our commitment as responsible dog owners and breeders to demonstrating our good citizenship. Let's all work together to demonstrate our support for reasonable laws that protect both the rights of responsible dog owners and breeders and the communities in which we live.

All the best,

Sheila Goffe
Director of Government Relations
Contact Us
Phone: (919) 816-3720
Fax: (919) 816-4275
Email: doglaw@akc.org
Government Relations
Legislative Alerts
2009 Legislation Tracking