Taking Command
April 2013
AKC Hosts "Canines at the Capitol" in Raleigh
The American Kennel Club recently hosted its second annual “Canines at the Capitol” event at the state capitol in Raleigh, North Carolina. Public officials, legislative staff and visitors gathered on the grassy Halifax Mall adjacent to the state offices to interact with dogs and their owners. AKC staff provided information about responsible dog ownership and the many things that AKC, AKC affiliates, and AKC clubs in North Carolina do to benefit dogs and their local communities.

Read more here.

North Carolina Senator Mike Woodard met Japanese Chin "Addam". Photo by Robert Young ©AKC.
Judicial Updates
Texas — The Supreme Court of Texas recently issued its opinion in the case of Strickland v. Medlen. In a majority opinion, the court noted that pets hold a special place in the hearts of their owners, but ultimately held that non-economic damages are not available in cases involving the negligent death of a pet. This reversed a decision of a Texas appeals court, which previously held that non-economic damages should be available in such cases.

Under current Texas criminal and civil liability laws, owners whose pets are negligently injured or killed are able to be fully and fairly compensated. In Texas, as in many other states, pet owners can recover the economic value of a pet, any veterinarian bills resulting from an alleged injury, and in some instances, other reasonable and necessary costs arising out of the injury.

Compensation for emotional loss, which is typically reserved for cases involving an immediate family member like a spouse or a parent, almost universally has been rejected in pet injury and death cases. Additionally, significant adverse consequences of such awards could include vastly increased pet health care costs, increased public health risks, and liability concerns that could cause some free and reduced-cost animal health services and shelters to close.

The American Kennel Club, Cat Fanciers' Association, Animal Health Institute, American Veterinary Medical Association, National Animal Interest Alliance, American Pet Products Association, and Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council submitted a friend of the court brief to the Court, which was quoted throughout the Court's opinion.
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 2013 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 2013 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-seven state legislatures and the District of Columbia are in regular session. So far this year, more than 1,000 state bills have been filed that could impact dogs and dog ownership. For the latest information on state and federal bills being tracked by AKC GR, visit the 2013 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 assistance 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.
Help AKC fight anti-dog legislation
Director's Letter
April is one of the busiest times of the year for legislatures around the country. Currently 37 legislatures are in session, and AKC Government Relations (GR) is tracking more than 1,000 state and federal measures.

Although many of the bills tracked may never be scheduled for a hearing or make it out of a committee, all of them have the potential to move quickly and impact dogs and responsible dog owners. This is why we urge you to join us in carefully monitoring the bills in your state using news resources as well as AKC's Legislation Tracking page and the Government Relations Toolbox for helpful information.

Spring bill filing deadlines are approaching in many state legislatures. When deadlines are just around the corner, it's especially important to keep an eye on all legislation. This is when it's common to see previously dormant bills spring to life and others amended dramatically. AKC GR's How a Bill Becomes a Law flyer provides a general outline of the stages at which these changes can take place.

Some bill amendments consist of a simple tweak that clarifies bill language without significantly changing the intent or impact of the measure. Others can spin a bill 180 degrees and turn a positive bill into a problematic bill, or turn bad measure into a positive one. Without following legislation carefully, such changes in bills — and the appropriate positions on them — can be extremely confusing. For example, a bill in Hawaii last year that was originally introduced as an anti-dog fighting bill was later "gutted and amended" to remove the dog fighting provisions and substitute in onerous new restrictions on dog breeders.

Likewise, what a bill is promoted to do may be very different from what it would actually do. For example, a bill recently introduced in North Carolina was captioned as an "act to establish standards of care for large commercial dog breeding facilities and to provide law enforcement with tools to ensure that dogs at those facilities are treated humanely." The bill even includes sections of AKC's Care and Conditions of Dogs Policy.

But a closer reading of the bill reveals a misleading and objectionable definition of "large commercial dog breeder" based on a person's ownership of 10 female dogs, rather than on actual breeding or sales activity. It references AKC's standards of care but only requires that level of care for an arbitrary class of "commercial breeders". By contrast, the AKC believes that all dogs deserve the minimum standards of care provided for in AKC's Care and Conditions policy and that "commercial breeding" should be defined by commercial activity, rather than the type or quantity of property an individual happens to own.

The AKC Government Relations Department will continue to monitor bills carefully throughout the legislative process and keep you informed of important changes in legislation — and how we can work together to protect the best interests of all dogs and responsible dog owners. We encourage you to review the legislative updates in this issue of Taking Command to learn more about what is going on in your state and what you can do to make your voice heard on these vital issues.

All the best,
Sheila Goffe
Director, AKC Government Relations
Contact Us
Phone: (919) 816-3720
Email: doglaw@akc.org
Government Relations
Legislative Alerts
2013 Legislation Tracking
GR Toolbox
© 2013 American Kennel Club