March 2012
Tales from the Trenches -
Forming a Parent Club Legislative Action Team

Guest columnist Judy McMahon is the Legislative Liaison for the Irish Terrier Club of America and an exhibitor and breeder of Irish Terriers. She shares her experiences in organizing the widely-dispersed members of a national parent club for legislative issues.

Every AKC Parent Club, regardless of the size of its membership, can make a difference in fighting anti-pet legislation throughout the country. A good example of this is the Irish Terrier Club of America (ITCA), which has a membership of fewer than 500 people.

In 2006, I was appointed by the ITCA's Board of Governors to serve as the club's AKC Legislative Liaison. I created a database of all ITCA members, broken down by state, so I could pass along information and AKC alerts that would assist members in dealing with legislation in their states and communities.

Read more.
AKC Announces First Quarter Community Achievement Award Honorees
The American Kennel Club recently announced that the Delaware County Kennel Club (Pennsylvania) and the Pasco Florida Kennel Club have been honored with Community Achievement Awards for the first quarter of 2012.

The AKC Community Achievement Awards support and recognize outstanding public education and legislation efforts of AKC-affiliated clubs, AKC-recognized federations and their members. The AKC selects award recipients who promote purebred dogs and responsible dog ownership within their communities or who have successfully introduced, monitored and responded to legislative issues affecting dog ownership.

Read more.


Guy and Jackie Putnam of the Pasco Florida Kennel Club (PFKC) Donation Committee and Corporal Tim Spitzer of the Pasco County Sheriff Department welcome guests to Safety Town. Photo by Renee Popkey.
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
Thirty-four state legislatures and the District of Columbia are in regular session. Two states are in special session. AKC GR is currently is tracking nearly 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.
New in the GR Toolbox: Updated Issue Analyses
AKC Government Relations Issue Analyses provide an in-depth look at prominent issues in canine legislation. These articles, which were originally published in AKC GR’s In Session congressional and state legislative newsletters, are available for you to print and distribute to lawmakers, colleagues, and others to help educate about canine legislation and how these policies impact responsible dog owners and breeders.

GR ToolboxTwo of these issue analyses were recently updated in the Government Relations Toolbox to provide more current, detailed information.

The Value of Responsible Dog BreedersThis article details why it is important to support responsible dog breeders. It explains the problems with many of the common regulations proposed in breeder legislation and provides more positive solutions.

Conformation Shows: More than Just a Pretty Face This article discusses the history of conformation shows, their importance, and the positive role it has in promoting responsible dog breeding. It also provides a brief “dog show 101” to help newcomers understand the basics of conformation shows.

These are just two examples of the broad variety of resources available in the Government Relations Toolbox. To view more issue analyses, articles, and tools to help you be an effective advocate, visit akc.org/governmentrelations and click on the red toolbox icon.
 
Many people know that the American Kennel Club is the world's largest purebred dog registry. They may also know that the AKC is the nation's leading not-for-profit organization devoted to the wellbeing of all dogs. Few, however, realize that the AKC is really "a club of clubs." AKC works with over 5,000 member and affiliated dog clubs across the country.

Responsible AKC breeders and club members provide the greatest concentration of dog expertise available anywhere – whether its expertise in the individual breeds; expertise in specific sports from field trials to obedience; or expertise in dogs, dog breeding and related issues of animal husbandry. AKC Government Relations (GR) supports a wide variety of clubs and responsible dog owners when they encounter issues that threaten responsible dog ownership and the wellbeing of any dogs in their area. Some of these include:

Ownership/Breeding Restrictions - Local dog clubs are especially impacted by laws that restrict the rights of responsible dog owners in their states or communities. Restrictive legislation (such as breeding or ownership limits) has the greatest potential to impact all dog owners. AKC GR works with clubs to fight burdensome or unreasonable restrictions in a community, regardless of residents' club and membership status.

Breed-Specific Policies - National breed clubs (a "parent club" for each breed) in particular are threatened by breed-specific policies. Breed-specific bans and dangerous dog designations ignore evidence that demonstrates that such laws are ineffective. In addition, outside attempts to impose change on a breed is increasingly a threat to the future of many breeds and their standards, which are maintained by each breed's parent club. AKC supports its parent clubs and respects and defends the specialized expertise of these individual clubs in making the best choices for their breed's health, functionality and future.

Rights of Access - Land ownership, usage, and rights of access have a significant impact on clubs that hold field events needing large tracts of open land. As rural areas become more urbanized, it can become more difficult for clubs to find places to conduct events. As part of preserving the function of purebred dogs, AKC works with these clubs and other impacted individuals to ensure that owners of purpose-bred dogs will continue to be able to test the form and function of their dogs.

Many policymakers don't realize the wealth of expertise in canine issues that lies within kennel clubs in their own communities. Call, write or email them and let them know about the resources your club already offers the community and ways it can help in the future. If you have free time, volunteer at your local shelter and offer to provide expertise if there are concerns about responsible dog ownership, nuisance laws or other issues that impact dog ownership. Your involvement can help prevent restrictive laws before they even are introduced!

Together, it is our job to let policymakers know that 5,000 AKC clubs are the best source for positive dog solutions in the community. We're here to help you do this. Be sure to use AKC GR resources available online at akc.org/governmentrelations or contact us to help you be as effective as you can be.

All the best,

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