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AKC Legislation Toolbox

The AKC has materials and resources available to help with education of people and legislators.  Here is a link to the AKC Canine Legislation Toolkit.
Legislative Laison

What is a Legislative Laison

Sometimes it’s a mystery to me just what my “job” is as a Legislative Liaison (LL). What are my responsibilities to AKC, to GSDCA, to the GSDCA Board, to the individual members of GSDCA?  How should I represent myself to other clubs, to politicians at Federal, State or local levels?  Do I have the authority to be a representative of GSDCA when I write letters of support or opposition and what is the extent of that authority?

Some of the answers fall in the realm of common sense, or in a quick email to Tish or other board members.  Often, though, I find myself hopefully turning to the information gathered in the documents, newsletters and flyers sent out from AKC where I see my answers.  When a club first selects a Legislative Liaison, and the name is sent to AKC, a packet loaded with information is mailed to the new LL with guidelines that are fairly overwhelming.

Educational Information

I have found that there is LOTS of information out there to educate and be educated.  But how does that instruct me how to liaise with my club and the close to 100 regional clubs who may be affected by adverse legislation close to “home?”  Legislation that may ban breeding or decrease owned dog limits beyond what we see as reasonable? How can I become a more effective LL for the regional clubs spread across the United States?  How does a Legislative Liaison increase communications between the local communities/clubs, so that bad (or good) legislation information can then be forwarded to AKC Government Relations?  And what then?  AKC cannot be involved in every town and county in the U.S.  What can we do to help the local groups help themselves and then feed back the results to the National club LL, who in turn should/could inform somebody in Government Relations of it all.

AKC Website

On AKC’s website, random searching under Canine Legislation will unearth the following under Local Legislation:

“Regional federations and more than 1,000 individual club legislative liaisons contact the AKC with reports of local ordinances affecting dog ownership. Examples of such proposals included breeding regulations, leash laws, dangerous dog laws, and zoning ordinances. The AKC responds with advice, information packets, and examples of current laws from other areas, which the legislative liaisons may then present to local government officials.”

AKC emails newsletters from almost every department on a regular basis.  The two directly related to Legislation are “Taking Command,” which covers current issues and developments, and “In Session,” a quarterly newsletter directed toward Congress, developing federal legislation, and AKC features.  (A list of AKC newsletters available at http://cs.silverpop.com/akc/preferences/index.sp

Downloading brochures builds a library of excellent material rapidly.  (http://www.akc.org/canine_legislation.cfm)  A partial list includes “Animal Limit Laws, A Better Alternative,” “Canine Legislation Position Statements,”  “Deed, not Breed” and many more.  All the brochures available may be ordered at the AKC order desk. 

Over the past few months, AKC has been developing a new web page, “ToolBox,” with updated briefs on issues ranging from AKC inspections to Mandatory Spay and Neuter. http://www.akc.org/canine_legislation/toolbox.cfm  There are a couple of flyers there that are far better and way beyond anything that AKC has previously created. (Here’s where we show the flyers, where did all the dogs go and can you imagine a world without dogs?). These are strong, pointed one-sheets that I hope each of you will print out and bring to your veterinarian, groomer, and pet supply store for them to post on their walls.

Community Involvement

I’ve recently become very involved with a group being shunted by their local politicians. Those politicians were working towards banning of breeders in various property zoning.  As I was one of the “first responders” in this recent incursion, I‘ve been coordinating with AKC Government Relations Manager Sarah Sprouse, and sending her pertinent updates on the situation.  Sarah wrote a strong and compelling letter to the County department involved, and supported by a strong showing by the breeding community; the problems were stopped, at least for the time being.  Sarah then made herself available to speak with group members and provide pointers on becoming a force in County politics.

This is how I see a Legislative Liaison working effectively to help a community. But this was a local situation for me. For situations local to each of us, we ALL need to be willing to be proactive in monitoring and helping our own local communities. I can help guide and connect you, but realistically, fighting these battles falls on the shoulders of each and every one of us.

Bottom Line

We all must remain vigilant. We all need to become and remain aware of what is proposed by our local jurisdictions. We all must be willing to come out of the shadows and become recognized faces to our elected officials. They say that “all politics is local,” and that’s ever more true when it comes to issues relating to our dogs. I can and will help, but you must be willing to be the grassroots.

-  Stormy Hope

Last Updated on Sunday, 23 October 2011 14:44