Taking Command

January 2010

From our Nation's Capitol
Congress is currently in session. Visit our 2010 Legislative Tracking Page and click on "US Fed" on the map to get the latest updates on all federal bills currently being monitored by AKC. Here are the highlights.
News from the State Capitols
Thirty-two state legislatures (Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Wisconsin), and the District of Columbia are currently in session. The American Kennel Club Government Relations Department is tracking almost 700 bills that carried over from 2009, plus almost 100 new pieces of legislation already introduced in 2010. For the latest information on the approximately 800 state and federal bills being tracked by the Government Relations Department, visit our 2010 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.

View the latest highlights here.
Local Battles
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 local issues we are monitoring:
News from the Courts
Pennsylvania – On December 29, 2009, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court held that the non-profit group that enforces Pennsylvania's animal control laws does not qualify for governmental immunity from lawsuits that result from that work. The court said that there was no reason to think the Pennsylvania General Assembly intended to grant the Pennsylvania Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals status as a commonwealth agency, therefore it is not entitled to a governmental immunity defense.

The Pennsylvania high court's ruling upheld a Philadelphia jury's verdict that awarded a woman $155,000 from the Pennsylvania SPCA after about one dozen dogs taken from her home were euthanized.

New Year, New Dog Laws – Are You in Compliance?
As owners and breeders of AKC-registered dogs, we place much emphasis on the importance of responsibility. Beyond providing proper care and a safe environment for a dog, the AKC strongly believes that being a responsible dog owner or breeder includes compliance with all state and local laws.

Below is a list of the new state breeder laws enacted in the past year. It is important to remember that many local municipalities also enacted new ordinances in 2009. Contact your local animal control office and request a copy of the animal laws for your community to ensure you are in compliance.

The AKC Government Relations Department worked tirelessly alongside numerous state federations, dog clubs, fanciers, and breeders in 2009 to ensure that any law enacted protected your rights as responsible dog owners. However, we understand that many may feel the new laws are flawed. The AKC strongly urges compliance with all state and local regulations, regardless of concerns that may remain.

Read more.

Labrador Retriever Puppies
Tell Your Community About Your Dog Shows and Events!
As the fancy and breeders continue to face legislative threats on the federal, state, and local levels, it is more important than ever that the general public and media learn who we are and the good things we do on behalf of dogs. One of the easiest, most effective ways to do this is through promotion of dog events.

AKC clubs around the country are coming up with innovative ways to notify their communities. For example, Marcie Dobkin and the Sand to Sea Non Sporting Dog Association in California created and purchased 25,000 bright stickers that read, "I'm here for the dog show". Exhibitors, judges, and others wore these around the community the entire weekend of their shows, sparking extensive interest and discussions.

The AKC Event Operations Department offers more great ideas in their Event Committee Bulletin.

GR encourages clubs to collaborate on promoting local shows in new and unique ways. This not only increases attendance, but lets the general public realize that wonderful dog events are happening right in their community.

American Kennel Club Honors Three Clubs for Outstanding Responsible Dog Ownership Days
The AKC recently awarded three clubs with the AKC Community Achievement Award for hosting outstanding and effective Responsible Dog Ownership Days. The Lake Cumberland Kennel Club (Somerset, KY), Rogue Valley Kennel Club (Grants Pass, Oregon), and Western Carolina Dog Fanciers Association (Dillsboro, NC) each received a $1,000 check to support the clubs' public education and canine legislation efforts in recognition of their efforts to organize and promote this important event and educate their communities about the importance of responsible dog ownership. Read more.

Help AKC fight anti-dog legislation
In the coming year, responsible dog owners and breeders will be faced with many challenges.

AKC's Government Relations Department (GR) continues to track nearly 700 bills from 2009, as well as almost 100 new state bills, in addition to potential new federal and local legislation. We also know that the threat of ballot initiatives is greater than ever. In Missouri and elsewhere, we can expect proponents of breeder restrictions to attack responsible dog ownership and breeding with tough public relations campaigns.

With your assistance and involvement this year, we can work together to fight back in several ways:

Resolve to expand our educational outreach and to demonstrate to our communities that responsible breeders are good citizens. This issue of Taking Command discusses strategies for educating your community; others are available from the AKC Public Education web pages. Consider volunteering your expertise at a local shelter, helping with a Canine Good CitizenŽ program, volunteering with your therapy dog, or serving on your community's animal expert board.

Be vigilant in watching for canine legislation and issues in your community. GR monitors and tracks legislation at the state and federal level, but we depend on input from you to learn what's going on in municipalities across the country. Get involved in your community and read your local newspaper (especially the legal notices) to stay in tune with what's going on in your region. Also check your community and county websites; many are now opting to post announcements online rather than through the local newspaper.

Consider appointing an AKC Legislative Liaison, if your club or organization doesn't currently have one. Legislative Liaisons play a key role in keeping club/organization members updated and distributing materials and information whenever further assistance is needed. They often serve as the club's primary chief liaison to AKC GR.

Set up a brief meeting with your local representatives or legislators. A friendly, 10-minute meeting to introduce yourself – especially before there's a pending issue – will help you to establish yourself as an expert when your legislator needs input on future legislation.

Study the record of candidates for office. Ask new candidates about their views on dog/animal-related issues and share what you learn with your clubs/groups. When you find a candidate who is a good steward for responsible breeders and owners, do what you can (including volunteering, making a campaign contribution, or learning about the AKC PAC or other PACs) to ensure he or she is (re)elected.

Stay up-to-date on canine legislative issues. If you have not already done so, consider signing up for AKC legislative alerts and our quarterly Congressional newsletter, In Session.

There is no denying that 2010 will be a challenging one for responsible owners and breeders, but by working together, we can ensure that our rights to own and breed dogs are protected. AKC GR will do its part to keep you up to date on legislative information, provide tools and tips for impacting policy and personally assist your communities and states with legislative issues.

With best wishes for a happy, healthy and successful new year,

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

© 2010 American Kennel Club