Taking Command

September 2009

From our Nation's Capitol
Congress returns from summer recess on September 8, and will soon be considering a number of issues of interest to dog owners.
News from the State Capitols
There are currently three state legislatures in session and forty-seven that are in special session, recess, or have adjourned. For the latest information on the over 850 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 over 90 local issues we are monitoring.
The AKC and "Breeder Bills"
Of the over 800 animal policy bills introduced in state legislatures this year, none were arguably more prominent – or controversial – than the so-called “breeder bills”. These 41 bills were introduced in 25 different states and sought to place strong restrictions on breeding practices, standards of care, and even caps on animal ownership. A majority also allowed for unannounced, warrantless inspections of a breeder’s personal home and property without probable cause while doing little or nothing to protect the safety of dogs or their well-being. Read more.

Tell your legislators you support reasonable breeder legislation! Download our printable one-page flier that details AKC’s position on breeder bills.

Australian Cattle Dog puppies
Keep Your Club Up to Date on Canine Legislation
AKC Legislative Liaison ProgramThe AKC Government Relations (GR) Department has monitored almost 900 state and local issues relating to canine legislation so far in 2009. With so many issues, it can be difficult to keep up to date on the issues that will affect you and your club. That is why we have established the AKC Legislative Liaison Program, which is designed to provide a link between your club and the GR Department.

Legislative Liaisons receive receives e-mail updates and information from the AKC GR Department and distributes them to club members. We also ask all Legislative Liaisons to notify GR of any issues arising in your state or community that may impact dog owners. The liaison will also help organize and motivate club members to engage in the political process if an issue arises.

This program is a simple way to keep your club informed of legislation that may affect you as a dog owner and a valuable resource for the AKC as we work to help protect your rights. If you club does not already have a Legislative Liaison, please consider appointing one. For more information, read our Legislative Liaison information flier or contact the AKC Government Relations Department at (919) 816-3720 or doglaw@akc.org.

Help AKC fight anti-dog legislation
For parents and children alike, September means one thing: back to school! Education is also a primary focus of the AKC and a crucial component of success in the legislative arena. The AKC's Government Relations Department works closely with the AKC Public Education Department to get the word out about responsible ownership.

By educating children and adults about responsible ownership, we can proactively address many of the problems that spawn bad dog laws. For example, breed-specific legislation is routinely proposed following a dog-bite incident. Teaching owners to train their dogs is part of the solution. Another part of the solution is to teach communities to recognize that the breed of a dog has little to do with a propensity to be dangerous. The AKC supports reasonable laws that define dangerous dogs by their deeds, not their breed. Just like people, dogs should be judged on their deeds, not on how they look. Education is the best way to spread this message.

Another example is over-zealous breeder regulations that are often proposed following media reports of the closure of substandard kennels. Here also, the basic problem is often misdiagnosed. The problem isn't the breeding of dogs – it's irresponsibility on the part of a small number of individuals. Responsible breeders are a part of the solution – they shouldn't be slandered by these tragedies. Responsible breeders give loving care to their dogs and educate buyers about responsible ownership including proper exercise, nutrition, healthcare and training. The AKC supports reasonable laws that ensure the well-being of dogs and promote responsible breeding practices.

The AKC Public Education Department provides a wide variety of resources – from educational curricula for schools, to brochures for shelters and community organizations, to new exhibitor mentoring programs, to the many Responsible Dog Ownership Day events that take places this month throughout the country. These educational programs benefit your community and our dogs, and also help you build a strong relationship with community leadership. They are also an excellent opportunity to provide influence should unreasonable dog laws ever be considered.

I invite you to visit the AKC's Public Education web pages to learn more about the AKC's broad range of educational programs and materials.

Remember, the best way to fight bad dog laws is to prevent them – and we can do that through education and a commitment to 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