February 2011

From our Nation's Capitol
The AKC Government Relations staff and AKC's federal advocacy team in Washington, D.C. continue to monitor Congress for issues of interest to dog owners. Visit our 2011 Legislation Tracking page and click on “US Fed” on the map to get the latest updates on federal bills currently being monitored by the AKC.
News from the State Capitols
Forty-eight state legislatures and the District of Columbia are currently in regular session. As of mid-February, AKC GR is tracking more than 800 new and pre-filed state bills. For the latest information on state and federal bills being tracked by AKC GR, visit our 2011 Legislation Tracking page. This page, updated daily, provides the latest bill text, status, and 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 highlights of the bills we are currently tracking.

Local Battles
The AKC Government Relations Department (AKC GR) assists dog owners and breeders with canine legislation issues in their local communities, but we can’t help unless we are aware of the proposal! If you hear of an issue in your town or county, please 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 defend responsible dog ownership in your community.

Here are some examples of the local issues currently being addressed by AKC GR.

Making a Difference: Grassroots Advocacy in Action
As you can see in the state and local updates, the breadth, depth and volume of canine legislation in 2011 is expanding more than ever before. AKC GR is tracking more than 800 state, federal and local bills so far this year, and that number increases every day.

Lawmakers are elected to represent you – the taxpayer and voter. When a problematic dog bill is introduced, it is important for concerned local dog owners, fanciers and breeders to speak up and be heard by their elected officials. The voices of resident responsible dog owners are vitally important when bad legislation is introduced in your state, county or city. No one can make a greater difference in the process. Read more.
National Champion Australian Shepherd "Reckon" Honored with Governor's Commendation
New Hampshire’s top dog, Ch. Propwash Reckon ("Reckon"), received an official commendation from New Hampshire Governor John Lynch on January 17 congratulating him and owners Leslie Frank and Judy Harrington for his Best In Show win at the 2010 AKC/Eukanuba National Championship.

Governor Lynch presented the commendation to Reckon at a press conference held at the Legislative Office Building in Concord, NH. Representatives from New Hampshire’s Environment & Agriculture Committee, Dog Owners of the Granite State and the American Kennel Club joined Governor Lynch in honoring Frank, the dog's breeder and co-owner, for the decades she has dedicated to breeding wonderful family companions and top winners in the show ring. Read more.

Active in Your Community?
Nominate Your Club for a Community Achievement Award

In December, the American Kennel Club (AKC) honored the Black Hills Dog Training Club of Rapid City, South Dakota; the Lake Cumberland Kennel Club of Somerset, Kentucky; and the Northeastern Maryland Kennel Club of Abingdon, Maryland with Community Achievement Awards for their outstanding 2010 Responsible Dog Ownership Day (RDO Day) events. Click here for their inspiring stories.

If your AKC-affiliated club, AKC-recognized federation, or fellow club member is active in your community, please consider nominating them for a Community Achievement Award. The AKC grants awards four times per year to honor exemplary public education and canine legislation efforts. If you’ve submitted a nomination in the past, please send an update on your organization’s recent and current activities. New information will be added to the nomination previously received and will be considered each quarter.

Honorees receive a certificate of appreciation and their club or federation receives a check for $1,000 to support ongoing community activities. The AKC announces the honorees in AKC publications and newsletters, and issues press releases about each recipient’s award and activities.

New in the GR Toolbox: "Cuddle This" Flyer and Updated State Statistics
AKC GR is pleased to announce the latest addition to the online GR Toolbox. Entitled "Cuddle This," this new flyer is available for downloading and printing in both horizontal and vertical format. Use this new resource, along with other flyers and materials in the toolbox, to help educate about the dangers of mandatory spay/neuter laws and overly restrictive breeder regulations.

Cuddle This flyer

In addition, updated 2010 statistics have been added to GR's flyers on the economic impact of purebred dogs by state. Click here, and then click on your state for information on the number of AKC events and entries and the economic value of AKC registered dogs in your state.

Be sure to visit the AKC Government Relations Toolbox often for the latest materials you can download and print for legislative battles, community and dog-related events, and club meetings to help educate others about the importance of promoting and protecting responsible dog ownership and breeding practices.

From even a glance at news headlines around the nation, it's easy to see that state legislative sessions are now in full swing. Forty-eight state legislatures are currently in regular session and Congress returns this week from a week-long break. As of mid-February, AKC GR is tracking over 800 new and pre-filed state bills that deal with potential issues of interest to dog owners.

With so much legislative activity, it's helpful to keep an eye on key trends that may impact measures in your state and community. Here are some of the trends we're watching throughout the country:

The volume of dog-related legislation is dramatically increasing. In 2009, AKC GR tracked approximately 800 bills. As of mid-February, we are already tracking over 800 bills. As there are far fewer state elections this year, we can also expect more legislative activity than in 2010. You can see a full list of all the state and federal-level bills we're tracking on our online 2011 Legislation Tracking page.

Movement from state to local legislation. Where problematic bills have been defeated at the state level, we're increasingly seeing the same or similar measures introduced in cities or counties. Local anti-breeder legislation is far more difficult to monitor, and often easier to pass. This underscores the critical importance of monitoring proposed ordinances in your city and county. Without your vigilance, we're not likely to hear about many measures at the local level. Once we know about these issues, we can provide you with customized assistance, including issue analyses, talking points and contacts with local clubs and breeders.

States are under significant budgetary constraints. Many states and jurisdictions are grappling with large deficits and will be unable to fund new state and local programs. Correspondingly, we are seeing a number of breeder bills that are based on faulty fiscal assumptions. Such bills claim to have no fiscal impact but often include unfunded mandates that pass fiscal responsibility on to similarly cash-strapped local or county governments. We are also seeing measures that impose new and very expensive breeder fees and penalties for the purported purpose of funding new licensing and/or inspection programs. Very often, however, the anticipated revenue from these new fees will not cover the true expense of these bills. Another "cost-cutting" measure we have seen uses loosely-defined and poorly-trained "humane" or "non-profit" groups to oversee kennel inspections, potentially bringing another set of concerns into the mix.

Hoarding bills. This new trend is similar to so-called "puppy-mill" bills, but instead of limiting the number of intact animals a breeder may own/breed, these bills define "hoarding" (the keeping of multiple dogs, regardless of their reproductive capacity) as "cruelty." The definitions of hoarding are very vague and undefined. For example, we've seen a "hoarder" defined as someone who owns as few as 7 dogs and keeps them in undefined "poor conditions." Other common features include felony charges and mandatory psychiatric/psychological evaluations. An extremely disturbing state bill essentially declared that a defendant's denial of a "hoarding problem" was in fact evidence of a hoarding "problem."

With trends such as these, the months ahead look to be busier than ever. We hope the resources, analysis and updates in this newsletter will be of assistance to you as we work together to protect responsible dog ownership and the wellbeing of all dogs.

All the best,
Sheila Goffe
Director of Government Relations
Contact Us
Phone: (919) 816-3720
Email: doglaw@akc.org
 
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