May 2011

From our Nation's Capitol
The AKC Government Relations team continues to monitor Congress for issues of interest to dog owners. Visit our 2011 Legislative Tracking page and click on “US Fed” on the map to get the latest updates on federal bills currently being monitored by the AKC.

Here are some highlights of bills we are currently tracking on Capitol Hill.
News from the State Capitols
Twenty-eight state legislatures and the District of Columbia are currently in regular session. Five states are in special session and two states have special sessions forthcoming. AKC GR is tracking more than 1,000 state bills thus far in 2011. For the latest information on state and federal bills being tracked by AKC GR, visit the 2011 Legislation Tracking page. This page, updated each weekday, 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

Here are some highlights of the bills we are currently tracking.

Local Battles
The AKC Government Relations Department (AKC GR) assists dog owners 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 city or county, please contact us at (919) 816-3720 or 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.

Legislative Successes
The AKC Government Relations Department is pleased to partner with state federations, dog clubs and concerned owners to protect the rights of dog owners. The tireless response of responsible breeders, owners and fanciers across the country truly makes a difference! Visit the 2011 Legislative Successes page to view some recent results of their good work.
Georgia Canine Coalition Honored with Bebout Award
The American Kennel Club is proud to announce that the Georgia Canine Coalition is the First Quarter 2011 recipient of the Walter Bebout Memorial Award for Leadership in Canine Legislation.

Named for the late Director of the AKC Government Relations Department, the "Bebout" award recognizes those federations and owner/breeder organizations that have been actively involved in educating legislators about responsible dog ownership issues and have worked to preserve the rights of responsible owners and breeders. Winners of the Bebout award are announced quarterly and receive a $1,000 donation to help offset the costs associated with their legislative efforts. Read more.

Georgia Canine Coalition President Gail LaBerge presents 2009-2010 Legislator of the Year awards to Senator John Bulloch, Chairman of the Georgia Senate Agriculture and Consumer Affairs Committee, and Representative Tom McCall, Chairman of the Georgia House Agriculture and Consumer Affairs Committee.
Using the AKC Government Relations Legislation Tracking Tool
Legislation often moves quickly. You can view daily updates on state and federal bills via the AKC Government Relations Legislation Tracking Tool, available on the AKC website 24 hours a day. Links to this tool are provided in each issue of Taking Command, and you can follow these steps to immediately access information on bills that may impact dog owners. Read more.
AKC Government Relations Legislation Tracker

New to the GR Toolbox – Educational Presentations on Topics in Government Relations
The AKC Government Relations Department is pleased to introduce a series of online PowerPoint presentations that discuss important issues in canine legislation, what to do when a bad bill is introduced, and how to advocate for responsible dog ownership. These informative presentations, narrated by AKC GR staff, can be downloaded or played directly from the AKC website at club meetings and educational events. First in the series is: Understanding the Basics of Canine Legislation. Read more.
So far this year, the AKC Government Relations (GR) team is tracking over 1,000 legislative proposals, with over one-third of them directly impacting dog breeders. This issue of Taking Command highlights of some of these bills, re-acquaints you with online tools to track legislation in your region, and introduces new resources to educate your club or community about how to address canine legislation.

What’s in a Definition?

For hobby breeders, among the most significant new trends – and threats – are bills that define all breeders as commercial enterprises. For many small, home-based breeders, the concept of being a “commercial” or “high-volume” breeder sounds so foreign that it’s hard to imagine such legislation could impact them. But the truth is, commercial breeder legislation can impact anyone who keeps intact dogs, and especially anyone who has ever bred or may someday breed a dog.

Even when the stated purpose of legislation is to crack down on illegal sub-standard kennels, it’s important to look at how the term “commercial breeder” is defined. Far too often, restrictive new laws focus on the number of dogs a person owns, rather than the level of commerce actually conducted or the care and conditions that the dogs receive.

Laws that define owners of a few intact dogs and small hobby breeders as commercial enterprises may result in numerous unintended consequences, including:

• Requiring hobby breeders who hand-raise occasional litters of puppies within their homes to comply with the same regulations, licensing and inspections that apply to large commercial breeding kennels

• Placing home-based breeders in violation of local zoning codes

• Forcing breeders to change from a small home-based model to a commercial kennel model that they lack the resources or desire to operate

• Imposing so many demands on small breeders that they can no longer breed at all
Consider the following:

The current definition of a “commercial breeder” in Nebraska includes anyone who owns 4 or more intact females “intended for breeding.” As the owner of four intact female dogs, you could be considered a commercial breeder even if you never produce a litter.

Legislation currently before the U.S. Congress (S. 707/H.R. 835, known as “PUPS”) would require anyone who owns or co-owns dogs that produce more than 50 puppies that are sold in a single year to be regulated in the same manner as a USDA puppy dealer. If you co-own dogs that have litters, this may include you. Even if you personally never whelp a litter or sell a puppy, based on your co-ownerships you could be subject to the same federal licensing and inspections as wholesale commercial breeders.

When it comes to legislation, what’s in a definition can mean the difference between a reasonable law and a measure that can harm untold numbers of responsible breeders and owners. AKC GR is here to serve you. Please don’t hesitate to contact us if we can assist you with questions about new legislation in your area.

All the best,
Sheila Goffe
Director of Government Relations
Contact Us
Phone: (919) 816-3720
Government Relations
Legislative Alerts
2011 Legislation Tracking
GR Toolbox
Two Ways to Protect your Rights

© 2011 American Kennel Club