Taking Command

November 2009

From our Nation's Capitol
The AKC is monitoring a number of issues in Congress of interest to purebred dog owners. Read about them here.
News from the State Capitols
Four state legislatures (Massachusetts, Michigan, Ohio, and Pennsylvania), and the District of Columbia are currently in session. Forty-six states have adjourned their regular sessions or are in recess. For the latest information on the over 850 state and federal bills being tracked by the Government Relations Department, 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
Although most state legislatures have adjourned, many municipalities are still considering ordinances that could affect your rights as dog owners. If you hear of an issue in your town or county, 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 some examples of the approximately 100 local issues we are monitoring.
Louisville Court Ruling May Have Broader Implications
On October 2, a United States District Court judge issued his decision in the case of the Louisville Kennel Club, Inc. v. Louisville/Jefferson County Metro Government. A significant victory for the Louisville Kennel Club, the judge's decision features two key rulings that may also prove to be of great importance for dog owners nationwide.

Among many new provisions, the animal control ordinance passed in Louisville required only owners of unaltered dogs to obtain written approval for dog enclosures. The ordinance also required anyone accused of animal cruelty to post bond for the care of their seized animals, or risk forfeiture- even if the owners were later found not guilty.

The judge declared that there is no rational basis for treating owners of unaltered dogs differently than owners of sterilized dogs. As a result, the portion of the law regarding enclosures was ruled to be an unconstitutional violation of equal protection and substantive due process. The bond requirements for animal cruelty accusations were also ruled to be an unconstitutional violation of due process.

"We congratulate the Louisville Kennel Club and their co-plaintiffs on their leadership in opposing the Louisville ordinance," said Dennis Sprung, President and CEO of the American Kennel Club. "We are confident that this decision will encourage communities to consider the interests of responsible dog breeders and owners when making changes to their animal ordinances."

Make Your Contact Count
Many legislatures will reconvene in January, and some are already beginning pre-filing bills for the 2010 sessions. A few states are still in session and considering bills that impact responsible dog owners. Additionally, numerous local municipalities are considering legislation that may affect you as a dog owner or breeder. As you consider contacting your public officials, here are a few simple steps to help ensure your communications are effective.

Download and print this new document filled with helpful information on how to communicate with public officials.

AKC Presents Community Achievement Awards
Each quarter, the AKC honors up to three AKC-affiliated clubs, federations, or club members for outstanding contributions to canine public education and government relations efforts. The three Community Achievement Award recipients for this quarter exemplify the impact dog fanciers and owners can have on their community and their legislatures. Read more.
Help AKC fight anti-dog legislation
This has been a challenging year for dog fanciers and breeders. More than ever before, it seems our rights to own and breed dogs are under attack. Yet in spite of these challenges, we have much to be thankful for, as this year we have also had a significant number of legislative victories.

I encourage you to take a few minutes to review our ever-growing list of legislative successes posted on our web site. On the state and local level, thousands of fanciers and breeders have worked tirelessly to protect our rights with great success. The AKC has worked in collaboration with them to defeat local and state-level mandatory spay/neuter proposals, numerous breed-specific bills, ownership limits, and also to defeat or significantly amend over 90 percent of the "breeder bills" introduced so far this year.

As we pause a moment to count our blessings, it's also important to remember that our work continues. As you will see throughout this issue, numerous states and municipalities still need your help. Whether or not your state or community is currently considering canine legislation, please continue to contact your legislators, invite them to dog shows, and let them know the good works you are doing in your community. All of these are simple ways you can educate public officials about who we are and the work we do on behalf of dogs and their owners. This issue also includes some helpful tips on how to communicate with legislators, so you can be sure you are being an effective advocate.

This edition highlights three examples of how we as dog owners, fanciers, and breeders can make a difference in our community. We thank these three Community Achievement Award recipients, our state federations, clubs, and the thousands of people who have worked so hard this year to protect our rights as dog owners. We also extend a special word of thanks to the legislators and public officials who have voted in favor of protecting responsible dog ownership.

Thank you for partnering with us, and we look forward to continue working together to stand up for responsible dog ownership.

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