For over 30 years, Karen Strange has advocated for Missouri animal owners. In 1991, after two years of lobbying, she and Anne Edwards founded the Missouri Federation of Animal Owners (MoFed), which is an official AKC federation.
Over the decades, MoFed has seen tremendous success in Jefferson City on behalf of purebred dog owners and breeders, and Strange credits much of it to their members being proactive before an issue is even introduced – particularly during election season. In fact, she has this message for clubs and dog owners: The next several days leading up to the election are a critical time for making a difference!
“Lawmakers are out campaigning. It’s a great time to get access!” Strange emphasized. She noted that right now, lawmakers from the local to federal levels are hosting “meet and greets” and other events in their districts. These provide a unique opportunity to start developing those relationships – even if you have emailed or called their office in the past.
“Get out there locally,” she encourages clubs. “[These events help lawmakers] put a face with the name.”
Strange offers the following five tips for those wanting to take advantage of these opportunities to meet lawmakers between now and the election (It’s also important to consider that many of Karen Strange’s tips can also be implemented after the election to make sure lawmakers from the local to federal levels continue to identify you as a constituent and local expert on dogs):
1. Attend local events for various state and local officials (She adds that sometimes a member of Congress will even show up to these events on behalf of a specific candidate or party). AKC GR recommends checking social media pages of candidates as well as their websites to find the dates, times, and locations of local meet and greet events.
2. Have cards printed with your name and contact information to give to lawmakers and staff. These can be printed with little expense at local office supply stores or online sellers. AKC GR recommends also considering including the name of your club, or perhaps a photo of your dog or a paw print or other small icon to help the lawmaker remember that you are a contact on dog issues.
3. Have a brief message prepared with who you are and your issue/concern. AKC GR recommends checking out our candidate survey to help you consider a couple questions to ask the candidates.
4. If possible, go to 2-3 meet and greet events. As Strange said, “The more they see you, the more they know you!” Repeat your brief message/issue and potentially give them another of your contact cards. This helps them begin to connect you with dog issues.
Strange says she can’t overemphasize the value of these repeat contacts. “I’ve been doing this repeatedly for so long that I do get calls from lawmakers now before they introduce bills. I even got a call from a Congressman’s office asking my opinion!”
5. Get to know staff. Strange explains that often campaign staff end up working for either that lawmaker or the legislature (or local government) in some capacity. “I got to know one campaign staffer who ended up becoming chief of staff for [a prominent lawmaker]- and they already knew me from seeing me at these events.”
AKC GR reminds clubs that discussions with staff are incredibly valuable. With so many bills introduced, staff are often the ones who help relay messages to lawmakers on key issues and educate them on the communications being received from constituents and interested parties.
These are just a few of the things you can do between now and Election Day to make a difference for dogs. For more suggestions, be sure to check out the AKC Government Relations 2022 Election Guide.
For questions or additional information on reaching out to your lawmakers, visit the AKC Legislative Action Center at www.akcgr.org, or contact AKC Government Relations at (919) 816-3720 or email@example.com.