25 THINGS YOUR CLUB CAN DO NOW TO FIGHT BAD DOG LAWS
EFFECTIVE ADVOCACY STARTS LOCALLY. HERE ARE 25 ACTIONS AKC CLUBS CAN BEGIN TODAY.
SOME OF THE BEST—AND WORST—NEWS HEARD RINGSIDE IS, “DID YOU HEAR THEY JUST PASSED A LAW…” G ood laws protect dogs and uphold the rights of responsible owners. But alarmingly, too many recent animal laws erode the rights of owners and mandate care requirements that defy both science and common sense. The American Kennel Club Government Relations Department (AKC GR) works with dog owners, AKC clubs, and allied groups to protect the rights of dog owners and help ensure that laws governing dog ownership, exhibition, and breeding are reasonable and non-discriminatory. AKC clubs drive this advocacy on behalf of dogs, especially on the state and local levels. Members may ask, “What can we do to support good laws and to amend or defeat bad ones?” Here are 25 actions every AKC club can take, starting today: 1. Keep your AKC legislative liaison and club officer contact information up-to-date. AKC GR relies on this information to be able to contact you in case we need to reach you about a dog proposal in your community. AKC GR emails geo-targeted legislative alerts to club officers based on club- submitted officer information. If this is not kept current, club officers may miss receiving important information. Update legislative liaison and officer contact info today. 2. Sign up to receive legislative alerts directly. AKC legislative alerts are available to all dog owners. View recent alerts and sign up to receive future communication at www.akc.org/legislative-alerts . 3. Quickly advise AKC GR when canine legislation is discussed in your community. AKC GR utilizes a tracking system for federal and state bills, but that does not cover local measures. Immediately email email@example.com when you hear about dog issues at county and city levels of government. 4. Appoint and empower an AKC Legislative Liaison for your club. Legisla- tion can—and does—move in hours. Legislative Liaisons are AKC GR’s main point of contacts at AKC clubs, and they must be able to receive and quickly forward alerts to all club members. You may also want to consider forming a legislative committee within your club (especially if it’s a breed club) to help share responsibilities across regions or when hot issues are in play. 5. Identify your allies. Successful advocates form strategic alliances with like- minded groups, such as owners and breeders of other pet species, sportsmen, 4-H, agricultural organizations, groomers, trainers, industry professionals, and veterinarians. Get to know animal control in your community. Find out
BY SHEILA GOFFE AND PATTY VAN SICKLEN *
ABOUT THE AUTHOR As Vice President, Government Relations for the American Kennel Club, Sheila Goffe leads the AKC’s efforts in the public policy arena, including working to protect the rights of all dog owners and promote responsible dog ownership. She oversees AKC legislative policy strategy and AKC outreach at the federal, state, and local levels. She also serves as AKC staff lead for the AKC Detection Dog Task Force, Service Dog Pass, and other key programs. Sheila joined AKC in 2006. Prior to working for the American Kennel Club, she was a Senior Legislative Analyst/Editor and Deputy Director of Editorial Product Development for Congressional Quarterly in Washington, DC. Previous experience included federal legislative staffing and advocacy, work as an editor and analyst for The Economist Intelligence Unit, and serving as an adjunct in Political Science/ Comparative Politics at the State University of New York/Stony Brook. She also owns, breeds, and shows Siberian Huskies.
128 | SHOWSIGHT MAGAZINE, AUGUST 2022
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