May 2012
AKC Enhances Care and Conditions of Dogs Policy
In April, the AKC Board of Directors voted unanimously to implement a new enhanced version of its Care and Conditions of Dogs policy. Along with record-keeping and dog identification, the policy serves as the core of the AKC’s inspections program, and is the basis for the more than 55,000 inspections the AKC has conducted since 2000.

Read more.
Controversial Maryland High Court Ruling Targets Specific Breed
A recent decision of the Maryland Court of Appeals determined that owning a "pit bull" or "pit bull mix" is an inherently dangerous activity in Maryland that gives rise to strict liability in cases when the dog does damage to individuals or property. Strict liability basically means that liability does not depend on actual negligence or intent to harm (which is usually reserved for extremely dangerous activities and some types of products liability claims).

The 4-3 decision, written by Judge Dale R. Cathell, represents a major change to Maryland law by modifying one of the elements that must be proved in cases involving pit bulls. The court held that if the particular dog is a pit bull, the danger is inherent in the breed; therefore, the legally-required intent or knowledge of wrongdoing is met by knowing that the dog is a pit bull.

Read more.
An Invitation from the American Kennel Club:
Join Us for AKC Responsible Dog Ownership Days!

This September, the American Kennel Club is celebrating the 10th anniversary of AKC Responsible Dog Ownership (RDO) Days. We encourage dog clubs, legislative liaisons, federations and other organizations to host events in their communities during that month to highlight the importance of responsible dog ownership. How can you help us celebrate? Read more!

Portuguese Water Dogs
Portuguese Water Dogs at AKC Responsible Dog Ownership Day in New York City. Photo by Mary Bloom ©AKC.
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 2012 Legislative Successes page to view some recent results of their good work.
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
Fifteen state legislatures and the District of Columbia are in regular session, and one state is in special session. AKC GR is currently is tracking more than 1,350 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

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 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.
May is one of the busiest months of the year for the AKC Government Relations Team. Already, we're monitoring more than 1,400 bills and proposed ordinances at the state, local and federal levels.

This year many states conclude their sessions early and are pushing legislation forward quickly. Others, like North Carolina, are just starting. And in Washington, D.C., Congress has begun hearings on the quinquennial (every 5 years), must-pass agricultural authorization bill known as "the farm bill."

The last two versions of the farm bill (passed in 2003 and 2008) included significant changes to the federal Animal Welfare Act (AWA) pertaining to dog breeding. AKC GR and our federal advocates continue work hard to combat attempts to attach PUPS to the farm bill or to push other restrictive breeder legislation through Congress.

Last week the USDA announced proposed revisions to federal Animal Welfare Act regulations that would change the definition of "retail pet store" such that any breeder who maintains more than 4 "breeding females" and who sells pets sight unseen (e.g., over the Internet) would be regulated under the federal Animal Welfare Act.

As we work to ensure the future of dogs and rights of responsible dog owners, a key component of our success will be ensuring that lawmakers and the public hear our stories – those of experienced responsible breeders – and understand that we are the true dog experts. The AKC's newly enhanced care and conditions policy is a valuable tool that demonstrates our collective dedication to the wellbeing and responsible care of all dogs, regardless of their circumstances.

Enhancements to this policy were born out of AKC's unparalleled experience in breeder best practices and practical knowledge, including an inspections program that has conducted over 55,000 inspections since 2000. 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 of dog breeding or animal husbandry.

All the best,

Sheila Goffe
Director, AKC Government Relations
Contact Us
Phone: (919) 816-3720
Government Relations
Legislative Alerts
2012 Legislation Tracking
GR Toolbox

© 2012 American Kennel Club