2022 was another busy year for the AKC Government Relations Department (GR). The team monitored approximately 2,400 pieces of canine legislation and some 680 regulations impacting dogs, dog ownership, and canine health and wellbeing. Legislative numbers were slightly lower than 2021, as it was an election year in most states and many state sessions were shorter in duration. In addition, several state legislatures did not meet this year. However, the number demonstrates that animal welfare issues continue to be a key priority for lawmakers around the country.
A Note on Legislative Tracking:
Oversight and jurisdiction of animal issues differs at the federal, state, and local levels. As such, the types of policy issues in canine legislation and regulation also vary between the different levels.
- At the federal level, the most common categories of legislative proposals in 2022 related to: Working dogs (including detection and service dogs), the Animal Welfare Act (including breeder regulation and dog importation), and animal research/testing.
- At the state level, the most common animal legislation issues included animal cruelty, animal control, covid-19 related bills, and working dogs (primarily regarding service dogs). It should be noted that most bills to regulate breeding, regardless of jurisdiction, are described by their proponents as “animal cruelty” bills.
- At the local level, the most common proposal continues to be bans on the sale of pets at retail pet stores. In addition, the GR team addressed several bills seeking to regulate breeders through zoning, licensing, and other means.
AKC GR monitors bills on a broad range of issues, but prioritizes those with the most direct impact on dogs, breeders, and the sport.
The GR team provides direct outreach to lawmakers, but our most valuable asset is your engagement and involvement. We rely on working with you – impacted dog owners – to assure a bright future for dog ownership. Lawmakers depend on their constituents for guidance on issues of importance to their communities, as well as their own re-election and political future. They want to hear from you! This is why AKC GR provides not only testimony and legislative action alerts (geotargeted, online, and/or via text), but also a wide range of additional resources for you.
We encourage you to check out our resources, including easy-to-use key-issues pages, 2-minute explainer videos, updated economic benefits information, printable issue handouts, comprehensive policy briefs and model legislation, sample letters, blogs with news and advocacy information, and much more in our Legislative Action Center at www.akcgr.org.
In July, AKC GR highlighted a number of successes from the first half of 2022 on a broad range of issues impacting dog owners and AKC sports.
Many of the successes since July have already been mentioned, including the defeat of SB 2994 in Massachusetts, which would have impacted home-based hobbyists, and AB 1881 in California seeking to be the first state to establish a “Dog and Cat Bill of Rights”.
In Rhode Island, numerous bills were defeated or successfully amended that impacted dogs and dog owners in the state.
Additional successes include California AB 1901, which originally would have regulated every dog training class in the state as a boarding kennel. The amended bill that was ultimately signed by the governor simply requires trainers to disclose any cruelty convictions they have had.
In New York, a new law expands protections for dog owners seeking homeowner’s insurance by saying that not only can a company not deny or cancel coverage based on the breed of dog owned by the policy holder, but they also cannot limit, restrict, or reduce coverage.
In Ohio and New York, bills were introduced that would have restricted ear cropping and tail docking. Neither bill was scheduled for a hearing.
We encourage you to visit our website for the full list of 2022 legislative successes from across the country.
The U.S. Congress is already in session, and all 50 states will also be in session in 2023. Following the 2022 elections, there are also a number of new lawmakers who may not be aware of AKC clubs, our sport, and canine legislation.
We urge you to take this opportunity to reach out to new lawmakers and reacquaint yourself with returning leaders to let them know you and the AKC are a resource for them on canine issues. Consider these following tips to make sure you are prepared to advocate for your dogs in the year ahead:
- Reach out to your lawmakers. Introduce yourself and your club and let them know you are a constituent concerned about dog issues in your state and community. View our sample introductory letters by visiting the AKC Legislative Action Center (www.akcgr.org) and clicking on the “Toolbox” tab.
- Make sure your club has a Legislative Liaison with a current email address with AKC GR. Legislative Liaisons are a crucial link between AKC GR and you. We send geotargeted alerts to club legislative liaisons and officers to be forwarded to all club members. If contact information is out of date, you could miss out on information that impacts your future! View more information on legislative liaisons, or email us at email@example.com.
- Visit the AKC Legislative Action Center (www.akcgr.org). There you will find our latest legislative alerts with information on how to contact lawmakers, and our tracking system to see what bills we are tracking in your state.
- Visit our key issues pages by visiting the Legislative Action Center and clicking on the “key issues” tab. There you will find a variety of resources to share with lawmakers on a range of important canine legislative issues.
Finally, if you hear of an issue, contact us! AKC Government Relations is pleased to partner with you to provide analysis, talking points, assistance in lawmaker outreach, and connection with other clubs and breeders in your area. You can reach us at (919) 816-3720 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you to all who worked with us in 2022 to make it such a successful year for dogs and dog owners. We look forward to continuing to work with you to protect our beloved breeds for generations to come!