Taking Command

June 2009

News from the State Capitols
The U.S. Congress and 22 state legislatures are currently in session. Twenty-eight states have adjourned their regular sessions. The Government Relations Department is currently tracking over 800 state bills that relate to animal legislation and policy. Here are some of the highlights.

For more information on any of the measures mentioned, visit our 2009 Legislation Tracking page, or contact us at (919) 816-3720 or doglaw@akc.org.

Local Battles
In addition to the numerous state bills, the AKC Government Relations Department is also tracking over 70 local proposals that will 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.
Legislative Successes
The AKC Government Relations Department is working hard with local federations, dog clubs, and concerned owners to protect the rights of dog owners, and there continue to be victories for responsible breeders and fanciers across the country. Click here to read about the most recent successes since April 2009. Visit the 2009 Legislative Successes page on our web site to view a complete list of all 2009 successes around the country.
Help AKC Eliminate Breed-Specific Laws in Ohio!
The Ohio General Assembly once again has an opportunity to change a law that has discriminated against responsible dog owners for 20 years. Ohio dog owners and the AKC needs the help of clubs and dog owners nationwide to make this a reality.

In mid-March, Ohio Representative Barbara Sears introduced House Bill 79, which removes the term "pit bull" from Ohio's statutory definition of dangerous dogs. Ohio is currently the only state to have enacted statewide breed-specific legislation (BSL). The current Ohio law states that if a dog "belongs to a breed that is commonly known as a pit bull", then it is automatically considered vicious and dangerous and the owner is required to submit reports to the board of health and county dog warden whenever there is a transfer of ownership. Read more.
Tell Your Legislator about Performance Events
When communicating with your legislators, it is important to share with them the tremendous impact fanciers and breeders have on local economies, as well as the health and welfare of purebred dogs. In addition to the thousands of AKC conformation events held each year, there were thousands more performance events. These events celebrate dogs doing what they were bred to do – including hunting, tracking, herding, and many other tasks. In 2008, there were over 3,900 performance events for AKC-registered breeds and another 2,300 Coonhound events. In total, 6,300 performance events were held in 2008.

These are significant statistics to share with legislators to show that breeders and fanciers not only recognize the value and importance of companion animals, but also the crucial role dogs play in a variety of important jobs.

A German Shorthaired Pointer on point.
Do You Have a Dog Park in Your Community?
As the temperatures begin to rise, people spend more time outside with their dogs. A wonderful way to do this is to visit your local dog park. If you do not currently have a dog park in your community, we can help! The AKC Government Relations Department can provide you with suggestions and support on how to work with local officials to develop a park in your town. Review our "Establishing a Dog Park in Your Community" brochure for ideas on how to get a dog park in your neighborhood or contact AKC Government Relations at (919) 816-3720 or doglaw@akc.org for more information.

AKC’s Federal Advocates – Greenberg Traurig
As part of our mission of working to protect the rights of all dog owners, the AKC has maintained a federal advocate in Washington for over 15 years. Click here to meet AKC's federal relations team.
With summer just around the corner, some state legislatures are starting to adjourn and we're beginning to see a slight slowdown in state-level canine legislation. With more breathing space, we can begin to look back over the activity of the last five months to assess what has been our busiest year ever. And although we've seen more anti-dog and anti-breeder legislation than ever before, we've also achieved more successes than ever before.

The AKC Government Relations department is proud of its successful legislative partnerships this year with a myriad of AKC clubs and state federations (For a brief summary of GR activities that have helped achieve these legislative successes, click here). For the AKC, success is defined as positive legislative outcomes that ultimately reflect our mission – "to protect the rights of responsible dog owners and the sport of purebred dogs and to positively impact legislation affecting all dog owners, responsible breeders and exhibitors."

Legislative success is achieved using strategies and tactics that can vary with each community and situation. In many cases, the hardest and most effective advocacy takes place behind the scenes, in direct contacts with legislators, or supporting club members and federations with sample legislative language or one-on-one assistance. In other cases, it may mean talking points, testimony, legislative alerts, lobby days, phone scripts and media contacts. Some of our greatest legislative successes are those bills that never make it to the hearing or markup level. Others involve long, hard fought battles that end at a governor's desk.

However success has been accomplished, it doesn't mean it's time to rest on our laurels. There are many tough challenges ahead, and the pace of lawmaking at the local and Federal levels will continue to accelerate.

If you have not yet had the chance to visit our new online Canine Legislative Tracking System to view some of the 800+ state and federal bills we've been tracking and acting on, I encourage you to do so. I'm confident you'll be pleasantly surprised.

Thank you again for joining our efforts to support the rights of responsible dog owners and breeders throughout the country. Please don't hesitate to contact us personally at 919-816-3720 or doglaw@akc.org.

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