In advocacy, we always talk about the importance of working together to fight for our dogs. As activists continue to attack the rights of responsible dog owners and breeders, the need to come together is becoming ever more apparent. This includes uniting with fellow hobbyists, exhibitors, and clubs, as well as fellow breeders who all have the same goal – the right to breed and raise purebred dogs.
The need for unity has become more evident across the country and was the key purpose in a trip AKC GR staff took last month to Indiana, where anti-breeder activists have been attempting to restrict and overly regulate breeders and kennels.
Jennifer Clark, AKC’s Director of Legislative Outreach, met with leaders of the Indiana Council for Animal Welfare (ICAW) in Shipshewana, Indiana, and discussed how the animal rights activists are impacting them and the importance of establishing relationships with local leaders before an issue arises. This group, comprised primarily of high-volume dog breeders and sellers, have made a commitment to ask each member of their organization to get to know at least one of their county commissioners, and also to help their fellow breeders who need assistance in caring for their dogs and improving their kennel standards.
“It was very encouraging and inspiring to see their commitment to their dogs and to their fellow breeders,” Clark said. “They related stories of helping fellow breeders improve their standards, helping at their local shelter, and demonstrated a love and pride for their dogs.”
During this meeting, which was held at a local kennel, one of the dogs began whelping a litter, and immediately that became the top priority. When one puppy was struggling at first, meeting attendees and their children took turns holding, rubbing, and helping him (one attendee even offering to go to his farm and get oxygen if needed), and when he finally showed improvement, everyone celebrated.
“This breeder with this commitment to this one young pup is sourcing dogs to a pet store in a state currently facing a possible retail sales ban,” Clark said. “This kind of story isn’t unusual, but it’s definitely not the story the animal rights’ activists would have those lawmakers -- or the public -- believe about breeders sourcing to pet stores.”
ICAW leaders also met with leaders of the Indiana Purebred Dog Alliance (AKC’s Indiana federation) in Lynn, Indiana, where the federation leaders went on a kennel tour to learn more about commercial breeders, then talked about how all breeders and fanciers in Indiana can work together to educate lawmakers and fight some of the proposals being introduced around the state.
“I very much enjoyed the kennel visit to Lynn, Indiana,” said IPDA President Carole Creech. “My expectation was that the facility would be clean, but not state of the art. Much to my surprise, the kennel and the dogs were immaculate, and the kennel setup is state of the art. These commercial breeders are definitely doing things right.”
“Last month I was invited to take my first tour of a commercial dog breeding facility in Lynn, Indiana,” said Laura Hooser with IPDA and the Greater Lafayette Kennel Club. “The facility was beautiful. All the details were well thought out and planned to maintain the health of the dogs, both physically and mentally…The dogs were very social, coming to the front of their runs for petting and were in nice coat and weight.”
“Once we finished our tour of the facility, we were joined my several local members of ICAW and had a nice discussion about their organization and breeding operations,” Ms. Hooser added. “I was very impressed with this organization. They are trying to not only provide active support for members, but also the surrounding community. It was certainly an afternoon that gave me food for thought. Hopefully, there will be a place in the future for all dedicated breeders, whether they are large or small.”
The ICAW leaders thanked IPDA several times for their willingness to meet and expressed their desire to continue these important discussions. “United we stand, and divided we fall,” commented one ICAW member.
Over the weekend, IPDA also hosted their annual meeting, where more than two dozen AKC club members from throughout Indiana met at a historic farmhouse in Sheridan, Indiana, to discuss how all breeders and dedicated dog owners can work together to preserve purpose-bred dogs and dog sports for future generations. Club members shared what they have been doing in their local communities, and urged each other to share that information with their local officials, who may not be aware of clubs doing so much for dogs in their community.
“As we continue to see legislation threatening the rights of purebred dog owners and breeders, the need to work together is proving even more essential,” said Jennifer Clark. “We applaud these breeders and fanciers in Indiana for taking the first step in collaborating and working together on behalf of dogs in the state.”
AKC clubs are encouraged to join their state federation to help present a united voice for dogs in their state. Check our list of state federations and their contact information to find out how to get involved. If your state does not have a state federation, learn more about developing one.
AKC’s Legislative Action Center provides a number of tools to help you communicate with your lawmakers. Visit our online toolbox to view our numerous resources, including a sample letter to help your club introduce themselves to elected officials.