After a one-year hiatus because of COVID-19, the National Association of Counties (NACo) held their 2021 Annual Conference at the National Harbor in Prince George’s County, Maryland last week. Once again, the American Kennel Club Government Relations Department (AKC GR) participated in this conference which brings together county leaders from across the United States.
With the number of dog laws proposed at local levels continuing to increase, it is becoming even more essential for the AKC and local clubs to become proactive in education and outreach to local officials. One way to provide this education and outreach is by participating in national conferences.
Although this year’s conference may have been smaller than previous years, hundreds of county leaders from across the country took the time to visit the AKC booth which emphasized the AKC’s expertise on dogs and dog policy and how AKC can be a valuable resource to counties looking to promote responsible dog ownership in their communities.
The booth was visited by many county commissioners, animal control directors, administrators, and other staff who stopped by to share questions and discuss a variety of issues in their counties ranging from concerns with dangerous dogs or irresponsible owners and breeders to a desire to build a dog park. Many officials who visited expressed how overwhelmed they felt when considering animal laws and were delighted to learn that AKC could provide them with assistance and expertise.
As usual when AKC GR attends a conference for law and policy makers, the booth was set up to encourage attendees to stop and talk about dogs and to promote responsible dog ownership in their counties. In addition, be it a German Shepard, Beagle, Golden Retriever, French Bulldog, Pug, Rottweiler, or a mixed breed, attendees also enjoyed stopping by to share photos or an occasional video of their beloved companion and talking about responsible dog ownership.
“One of the most common questions asked at the booth was: ‘What is the American Kennel Club doing at a Counties Official Conference?’ ” said Charley Hall, AKC Legislative Analyst/Community Outreach Coordinator for the Mid-Atlantic Region. In response, Hall explained, “More and more, county officials and those at the local level are being asked to pass complex ordinances and set policy related to dogs and dog ownership. AKC’s presence at these conferences allows us to share our expertise and establish the American Kennel Club as a resource to assist communities in navigating demands for dog laws, while also establishing positive and reasonable canine policy that protects dogs and responsible owners.”