Congressman Glenn “GT” Thompson, Chair of the U.S. House Agriculture Committee, spoke at the recent Pennsylvania Federation of Dog Clubs (PFDC) annual meeting held at the Pennsylvania Farm Show Complex in Harrisburg, PA.
Congressman Thompson provided an overview of the Farm Bill process and the importance of agricultural and animal husbandry enterprises in the United States. He encouraged the group to work together to offset the lobbying tactics of radical animal rights groups. Following the formal presentation, Charley Hall, AKC Government Relations Mid-Atlantic Regional Manager, led a question-and-answer session.
Addressing concerns about attempts by anti-breeder activists to place language from the Puppy Protection Act (H.R. 1624) and Goldie’s Act (H.R. 1788) into the text of the 2024 Farm Bill (see alert), Congressman Thompson made it clear that he has “one goal and a thousand objectives. The one goal is the Farm Bill will be bipartisan, bicameral, and quite frankly on time and highly effective.” He continued that “of the thousand objectives one is protecting the animal welfare provisions while preventing the emotional animal rights agenda from entering the Farm Bill.”
He further advocated –and likewise encouraged the group –to urge lawmakers to make sure that the U.S. Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (USDA APHIS), which administers the Animal Welfare Act, is properly funded so it can properly enforce its current requirements.
When asked the best way to counteract inaccurate information spread by animal rights groups, Congressman Thompson simply replied, “truth and facts.” He further encouraged establishing relationships and networking, not only with members of Congress, but more importantly with lawmakers’ staff and making sure they understand the difference between animal welfare and animal rights. He reminded the group that they have science and facts on their side while the other side relies on emotion.
In closing, Congressman Thompson stated that, “When you are doing that communication [with members of Congress about the Puppy Protection Act and Goldie’s Act], let them know the Chairman of the Agriculture Committee appreciates and supports the policies and perspectives of the Pennsylvania Federation of Dog Clubs.”
Also speaking at the event was Pennsylvania State Representative David Zimmerman, who provided an update on Pennsylvania Senate Bill 746 which updates the Commonwealth’s Dog Law and includes dog licensing fee increases and eliminates the differentiation in those fees for intake and spay/neutered dogs. Following Congressman Thompson’s lead, Representative Zimmerman also urged club members and professional breeders to work together to advocate for dogs and their responsible owners, as groups who are more concerned about animal rights instead of animal welfare never miss a chance to be vocal.
The program also featured Sarah Stauffer, Legislative Director for PA State Senator Gene Yaw, who spoke about Pennsylvania Senate Bill 785, which seeks to establish an Animal Welfare Board in the Commonwealth and includes representatives from the American Kennel Club, the Pennsylvania Federation of Dog Clubs, and the Northeast Gundog Beagle Association. Dan Cox, Chief of Staff for PA State Senator Doug Mastriano, also offered greetings on Senator Mastriano’s behalf. John Bolin, a former investigator for the ASPCA who now speaks out against animal rights extremism, also gave a presentation.
At the beginning of the event, Darin Cox, President of the Federation, gave a report on the activities of the Federation over the past year. He also presented the Outstanding Club of the Year award to the Obedience Training Class of Harrisburg (OTCHPA) and the Outstanding Individual (dog) of the Year to Detective K-9 Stratton, handled by Terri Heck of Lewisberry, a borough in York County, Pennsylvania. Detective K-9 Stratton is four years of age and ranked as Lead Search K-9 for Summit Search and Rescue (SSAR). To date, he has participated in 75 community programs.
AKC Government Relations congratulates the federation on a successful event and extends a special thanks to Congressman Thompson for taking the time to talk with federation members and for his public support of AKC’s and the federation’s position on the Farm Bill. To contact your member of Congress about these issues, view AKC GR’s most recent alert.
If you would like a member of the AKC GR team to speak to your club or attend an event to share resources and discuss how we can work together to be effective advocates for dogs, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.