An anti-breeder amendment was attached to an unrelated bill. The amendment was filed late on a Friday afternoon on a bill that was up for a vote the following Monday morning. Fortunately, the local AKC club was watching. The club sent out a call to action to contact the sponsor of the original bill and let him know that animal rights lobbyists were attempting to highjack it. The sponsor did not want his bill to become controversial when it was so close to passage. On Monday, he opposed including the anti-breeder amendment. The club’s quick action helped stop a problematic amendment from being attached to the bill just prior to its final vote.
Would your AKC club be able to react, communicate, and take action that quickly?
Legislation can move fast, sometimes in a matter of hours or days. Amendments can be added to bills that are already well on their way to enactment. Local governments can sometimes bypass standard legislative procedures by categorizing an ordinance as an “emergency” measure, or on the opposite extreme, as a “noncontroversial” matter. Such amendments and legislation can be speedily enacted with little public oversight.
When legislation moves quickly, putting a notice on the club’s website or an article in the next newsletter won’t help. Fast and effective communication is necessary.
Does your AKC club have quick-response communications system in place? Have you established a team to rapidly inform your club members about important issues? This not only applies to fast-moving legislation, it can be a useful tool during natural disaster and emergency situations.
If your club doesn’t already have a communications plan, take action today to appoint and enable a club Communications Team that will quickly spread the word about important issues that affect our dogs and our rights as dog owners.
- Assign your Communications Team the responsibility of ensuring that important information is sent to—and received by—your club’s members. And because dog people are often frequent travelers, you’ll need back-ups on the team.
- Assess how the Communications Team will send out important information. Do all your members have access to text messaging and do you have up-to-date cell phone numbers at hand? The team may need to make voice calls to members who do not utilize texting, so make sure home phone numbers are also updated. What about email addresses—is the list current?
- Prioritize getting important information out to your most informed, active club members and allies. Keep your allies’ contact info current, too.
One example of a communications plan includes sending BOTH a text message (or voice call) AND an email. The text message (or call) alerts recipients to the issue at hand. For example, a text message might read, “Anytown votes TOMORROW on ordinance to ban Whifflehounds. Contact city council members to oppose. See email for more info.” The text message will immediately alert your members and allies about the issue and tell them where to get additional details. The email would include complete information about the ordinance; why the club opposes it; contact information for Anytown city council members; and who to contact for more information.
Getting the word out fast is crucial to success when legislation is moving quickly. And please remember to copy AKC Government Relations at firstname.lastname@example.org when legislation is discussed or proposed on the county and city level. We rely on you to let us know about local proposals.
Let’s recap seven steps your AKC club can take TODAY to stay informed, form alliances, and share information about issues that affect our dogs and our rights.
1. Appoint, equip, and enable a Legislative Liaison for your club, and back up that person. Contact email@example.com if you need assistance.
2. Update your club’s officer list and contact information at firstname.lastname@example.org.
3. Let AKC Government Relations know if your club officers and Legislative Liaison are not getting AKC legislative alerts by sending a message to email@example.com.
4. Quickly advise AKC Government Relations at firstname.lastname@example.org when local canine legislation is discussed or introduced in your county or city.
5. Identify your allies and form strategic alliances with like-minded groups, those who face similar challenges, and those who share common ideologies.
6. Share mutually relevant communication with your allies and include them in your grassroots outreach. When appropriate, reciprocate and support your allies on their issues.
7. Establish a quick-response team for phone, text, and email communication to share information and coordinate action in response to problematic proposals.
8. Compile contact information for your elected officials and make it available to your members.
9. Get to know your elected officials—as a constituent and as an AKC club.
For assistance, information, and to share your great ideas, please contact AKC Government Relations at email@example.com or 919-816-3720.