A Publication of the AKC Government Relations Department

A Publication of the AKC Government Relations Department — August 2016



The dog days of summer have been busy for the AKC GR team and other advocates who work to protect the well-being of dogs and the rights of dog owners. Animal lovers from 28 states and the District of Columbia participated in the 2016 AKC Legislative Conference on July 22-24, where they learned about current canine legislative issues and shared information on effective advocacy.

The AKC Government Relations team has also been on the road. Sheila Goffe, Vice President Government Relations met with legislators and candidates at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, where AKC co-hosted a convention event with the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation.


Animal advocates from Maine to Hawaii traveled to the 2016 AKC Legislative Conference in Raleigh, NC to learn about current trends in canine legislation and how to effectively protect the rights of dog owners, exhibitors and breeders.

More than 80 AKC Legislative Liaisons, club and federation representatives, and animal welfare leaders shared their experiences, learned from experts, and received new data and tools to help inform and empower dog advocates in their states and communities. The July 22-24 conference provided training on how to successfully oppose problematic canine legislation, proactively support positive measures, counter false information, and improve the well-being of dogs.

Jennifer Clark and Melissa Ferrell at the 2016 National Conference of State Legislatures.


The AKC Government Relations (AKC GR) table was once again one of the most popular stops at the 2016 National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL), held this year in Chicago, Illinois. Melissa Ferrell, Government Relations Research Analyst, and Jennifer Clark, Canine Legislation Manager, met and provided information to legislators and staff from across the country.

The American Kennel Club has been a part of this annual event for 20 years and has become one of the most popular booths at the conference. AKC GR provides information on canine legislative issues, as well as the many positive things the AKC does on behalf of dogs. Many lawmakers stop by to discuss specific legislative questions and to get AKC’s insights and input on issues affecting dog owners. Others share their dogs’ photos and stories, many proudly proclaiming they own an AKC-registered purebred dog.

On August 8, the American Kennel Club (AKC) Board of Directors unanimously approved a new Canine Legislation Position Statement on Pet Choice. The statement (below) takes a strong stand in support of pet choice, education and responsible pet selection as a foundation for successful long-term pet ownership. It also affirms AKC’s opposition to legislation that restricts freedom of choice in selecting a pet or requires individuals or retailers to obtain pets solely from shelter or rescue distributors.

Pet Choice
The American Kennel Club emphatically supports freedom of choice in selecting a pet. AKC actively promotes efforts to ensure that people are educated, understand the demands of responsible ownership and have access to a pet that is right for them. AKC strongly opposes any measure that restricts choice by compelling people and/or retailers to obtain pets solely from shelter or rescue distributors.

On August 4, the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) published proposed updates to its regulations to make them consistent with existing requirements under the federal Animal Welfare Act (AWA). These rules do not represent a change in current USDA policy regarding licensing.

The proposed updates (known as a “proposed rule”) reflect changes to the AWA that were enacted in early 2014 as part of the 2013 federal agricultural authorization act. The new regulatory language provides minor adjustments that expand thresholds for exemption from USDA licensing for animal dealer and exhibitor enterprises whose business activities are considered by USDA to be de minimis.

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 2016 Legislative Successes page to view examples of recent results of their good work.

Legislative Information and Updates

Each year, thousands of dog-related laws and regulations are proposed at the federal, state, and local levels. So far this year, AKC GR has been monitoring more than 2,100 measures that could impact dog owners. Six state legislatures are currently in regular session, Alabama is in special session, and bills have been prefiled for 2017 in five states.

Visit the 2016 Legislation Tracking page for the most up-to-date information on state and federal legislation. This site, updated each weekday, provides the latest bill text, status, and links to legislative alerts posted by the AKC. Click on the links below to view highlights of issues that are being tracked by AKC Government Relations:

Federal— issues that may affect all dog owners in the U.S.
State — issues specific to your state
Local/Other— issues at the city, county, and metropolitan levels, and in U.S. territories

Please contact AKC GR at (919) 816-3720 or doglaw@akc.org for more information or to let us know what’s happening in your local community.

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