April 2012
Tales from the Trenches —
Members of Animals in Our Care Educate Iowa Lawmakers

Guest columnist Nancy Glick is an Iowa dog breeder and member of a new state breeder group called "Animals in Our Care."

We in animal husbandry have been a sleeping giant for too long. As responsible dog breeders, we always thought the things that animal rights groups pushed for were too outlandish to gain public and legislative favor – until we realized that they had carved out a foothold while we'd been busy with our day-to-day lives. Moreover, here in Iowa, we've seen increased attempts by local activist organizations to tell the legislators how our dogs should be bred and raised. Some have even gone so far as to use the derogatory term "puppy mill" in writing to define anyone who owns three dogs and keeps them in a kennel – regardless of the conditions!

Read more.
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!

For example, Senate Bill 406 in West Virginia would have imposed regulations on anyone in the state who maintains 11 or more intact dogs and breeds dogs as household pets. The bill also would have established arbitrary care and conditions requirements and enacted a 50-dog ownership limit. The AKC worked closely with concerned dog owners in West Virginia to oppose the measure. The bill was held in the House Judiciary Committee.

Prior to its 2012 legislative session, Ohio was the only state with a statewide breed-specific law. This year, the AKC supported the efforts of its Ohio federation and responsible Ohio dog owners to amend the law. A bill that removed the term "pit bull" from the state's definition of "vicious dog" and instead holds all dog owners accountable, regardless of the breed they own, was signed by Governor Kasich on February 21.

Visit the 2012 Legislative Successes page for more information on these bills and other recent successes.

Lhasa Apso
Lhasa Apso puppies. Photo ©AKC
From our Nation's Capitol
The AKC Government Relations team continues to monitor Congress for issues of interest to dog owners. Visit our 2012 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 measures we are currently tracking on the federal level.
News from the State Capitols
Twenty-nine state legislatures and the District of Columbia are in regular session. Two states are in special session. AKC GR is currently is tracking more than 1,300 state bills. For the latest information on state and federal bills being tracked by AKC GR, visit the 2012 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 doglaw@akc.org.

Here are some highlights of the state bills AKC GR is currently tracking.
Local Issues
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 doglaw@akc.org. We will be happy to provide you with the resources, tools and support you need to help support and defend responsible dog ownership in your community.

Here are some examples of the local issues currently being addressed by AKC GR.
The Hartford Offers Auto and Home Insurance to AKC Dog Owners
In recognition of the importance of responsible dog ownership, The Hartford continues as the exclusive insurance sponsor of the AKC Canine Good Citizen (CGC®) and S.T.A.R. Puppy programs.

The Hartford offers automobile and home insurance to owners of all AKC registered dogs. Owners with breeds historically ineligible for coverage may be eligible if they meet specific conditions demonstrating obedience and responsible ownership. This includes passing the 10-step AKC CGG test.

Click here for more information.

AKC & The Hartford
In this month's Tales From the Trenches article, guest columnist Nancy Glick writes that dog breeders are the true experts when it comes to proper care and conditions for dogs. This is not only a simple and profound truth – it also serves as cautionary note about who in our society should define this important concept.

In our hectic daily lives we're bombarded with so much information that we can lose focus on the larger picture. As we look for shortcuts and solutions, it's easy for perception and hype to undermine substance and expertise. But when this happens, the voice of true experts and the real issues are marginalized.

There's an old adage that "he who frames the issues wins the debate." This may never be truer than it is for us today. Breeder experts and responsible dog owners face a grave danger when animal rights activists with little or no experience in breeding or animal husbandry try to frame the popular vision of what constitutes a responsible breeder.

For the future of our dogs, we – experienced breeders, responsible dog owners and true dog experts – must ensure that the concept of "responsible breeding" is not distorted by misinformation or bias.

Consider this: It is the responsible breeders – not animal rights activists – who have years, often generations, of practical experience with their breeds and bloodlines, and who utilize this expertise to provide the best care for the current and future generations of their dogs.

Responsible breeders study pedigrees, not just a dog's titles or appearance but also its health and temperament, before making breeding decisions. Often they responsibly maintain numerous dogs – beloved retired dogs that hold a place of honor; young dogs being "grown out" to assess future potential; and dogs that may be exhibited, worked, and tested to determine which are worthy to contribute to the genetic health and diversity of a bloodline. Maintaining multiple generations and keeping dogs intact until their merit can be determined enables good breeders to select the best dogs to breed.

A responsible breeder can own 100 dogs and take excellent care of them. An irresponsible person can own just one dog and be cruel and neglectful. We know from experience, but we must also educate the public and our lawmakers, that responsibility is not about the number of dogs a person has – it is about the care and environment provided.

Responsible breeders love dogs and care about their future. They care enough to breed good dogs so that our children and grandchildren will be graced with the same kind of canine companions we enjoy today. Responsible breeders devote their lives and resources to dogs. They put in all-nighters and sleep for weeks on a cot for concern over new puppies or an ill dog.

Responsible breeding is key to our future and the wellbeing of all dogs. It's too important for us to let it be defined by detractors with no expertise or knowledge.

This is why the AKC stands up for the future of dogs and responsible breeders and advocates for strong enforcement of negligence and cruelty laws for all dogs – regardless of whether they are part of a breeding program, in a shelter, in a kennel, or in a private home. Good policy, properly enforced, doesn't limit responsible breeding programs or erroneously assume that the number of dogs owned directly correlates to quality of care. Most important of all, good policy, developed with input from breeders, can protect all dogs – and the future of responsible breeding.

All the best,

Sheila Goffe
Director, AKC Government Relations
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