Thomas Edison once said, “The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time.”
For almost a decade, the Greater Lafayette Kennel Club in Indiana took this to heart, persistently contacting and appealing to the Lafayette City Council to repeal the city’s three dog ownership limit law. And finally, they have succeeded.
Until this past month, the City of Lafayette had a law on the books that allowed only three dogs and three cats per household – regardless of age, sterilization, or any other factors… and the Greater Lafayette Kennel Club was determined to get rid of it.
With the pandemic and other important issues facing the city, animal control items had not been brought forward for several months. Then, suddenly in July, the club received a notice that a rewrite of the animal control law would be on the agenda – a rewrite that among other things removed the limit law.
“It’s not a perfect law, but it’s reasonable and definitely one we can live with,” explained club president Laura Hooser. She also emphasized the importance of compromise – figuring out your priorities and understanding the concerns the city wishes to address.
Hooser stated that the rewrite was very reasonable overall and that it no longer contains arbitrary provisions such as the limit law. Instead, it now focuses on the care and treatment of all animals – regardless of how many are owned.
The city’s ownership limit law had been a concern for many years. AKC opposes limit laws and instead promotes laws that focuses on the quality of care and responsibility of the owner – regardless of how many dogs they own.
City officials often told the club members that the law wasn’t meant for them, but rather for those being irresponsible. However, the law was on the books, and there was no guarantee that it wouldn’t be enforced in the future. Plus, the law was simply bad policy.
As such, the club remained diligent in keeping this issue and their concerns before the council through both in-person meetings and written communications. Club members sent AKC Government Relations materials on limit laws, as well as other AKC resources on responsible breeders, the economic impact of dog shows, and other topics to the Lafayette City Council. They would send these materials to each member of the council with a cover note about their club – and their concerns with the limit law.
After each election cycle, the club would re-introduce themselves to the council. “We recognized that dynamics on the council can change,” Hooser explained. “And there were new members who may not yet have heard our message.”
But these actions alone, while raising awareness, were only part of what helped get their message across. “Whenever we talked to the council, they always asked what we were doing in the community – particularly with the [local animal] shelter,” Hooser explained.
The club, which has been in the community for over 75 years, continues to maintain a strong public presence. This includes programs such as offering Girl Scout badges at their cluster shows and participating in local fairs where they provide basic information on dog breeds as well as local classes they offer. Each fair booth has had themes such as traveling with dogs, service vs. therapy dogs, or candy and dogs (for Halloween and the holidays). They also have a large magnetic board with pictures of dogs, and people try to match the photo with the breed name. This breed identification board has been a huge success in drawing people to their booths and starting discussions.
The club also works with the local parks and recreation department and offers AKC Canine Good Citizen classes and testing, as well as demos at local events. In addition, they make food donations to the local shelter and some members are also personally involved as shelter volunteers. The club has offered to partner with the shelter on education and other initiatives to help the shelter and new dog owners.
“The message I would give to clubs is to just keep it up,” said Hooser. She also emphasized the importance of the whole club being involved – not just a few members. The combination of civic involvement and persistent advocacy made a difference not just in repealing this limit law, but in continuing to demonstrate the positive impact of supporting responsible dog owners and breeders in the community.
If you are dealing with an issue in your community, AKC GR can help! Contact AKC Government Relations at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will provide you with resources, talking points, analysis and connection to other clubs and breeders in the area. To view our latest advocacy resources and information, visit the AKC Legislative Action Center at www.akcgr.org and click on the “Toolbox” and “Key Issues” tabs.