Last week, AKC Government Relations attended the National League of Cities annual summit in Kansas City, Missouri, where thousands of mayors, city councilmembers, and city managers and staff from across the United States met to discuss policy and other solutions for their communities on a broad range of issues.
The American Kennel Club Government Relations booth was staffed by AKC Director of Legislative Outreach Jennifer Clark, and Jacob Hupp, Legislative Analyst/Community Outreach Coordinator for the Central States Region. The booth was extremely popular, with a steady crowd throughout the three days coming to talk to AKC and excited to learn of all the resources AKC offers free to communities to assist them with canine issues and policies.
“Local communities are making decisions every day that can impact dog owners, breeders, and AKC sports,” said Jennifer Clark. “ NLC offers a great opportunity to network with local leaders and let them know that AKC and local AKC clubs are a tremendous resource for cities looking to address canine issues and promote responsible dog ownership.”
AKC’s booth included information on the economic impact of dog events in local communities, talking points from the AKC Legislative Action Center’s Key Issues pages, information on the myriad of ways AKC and local clubs benefit dogs and the community, and many other resources.
Topics discussed were as varied as the cities themselves, ranging from discussions about creating dog parks, to at-large dogs, to breed-specific and dangerous dog policies. Several city representatives were thrilled to learn of AKC’s willingness to provide expertise by just examining their current animal laws and discussing suggestions for improvement. You mean AKC will do this for free?! exclaimed one councilman from a North Carolina community.
One of the best questions of the week came from a representative of a growing town in Iowa who asked, “So how can we be more dog-friendly?” The town recognized that being dog friendly attracts residents and businesses and is eager for the assistance of AKC and local clubs in making sure they are a welcoming community for responsible dog owners.
The overarching message, however, was that in many cases cities have ample animal control policies. Canine issues can often be resolved with greater emphasis on enforcement and public education about animal control laws. AKC GR looks forward to following up with the many local representatives who stopped by the booth, and also looks forward to new conversations with local leaders in the coming year.