2021 was another busy year for AKC Government Relations (GR). The team monitored approximately 3,000 legislative and regulatory proposals on the federal, state and local levels in all 50 states. This represents a decline in the number of legislative proposals (to approximately 2,400) over last year (which experienced a spike in raw numbers due to COVID-related legislation that could impact dog ownership and events); but a slight increase over 2019, a previous record year.
Although COVID remained a primary focus for many state legislatures, the introduction and advancement of major animal legislation in 2021 demonstrated a continued and significant interest in animal policy among lawmakers.
A Note on Legislative Tracking:
Oversight and jurisdiction of animal issues differs at the federal, state and local level. As such, the types of policy issues in canine legislation and regulation also vary at different levels.
- At the federal level, the most common categories of legislative proposals in 2021 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 categories of legislation in 2021 related to: COVID, animal cruelty (increasingly, breeder licensing and rules fall under the category) , working dogs, animal control, rescues/shelters, veterinary issues, and performance events.
- At the local level, the most common proposals involved: retail pet sales, animal control, breeder licensing/rules, breed specific/ dangerous dog laws, animal cruelty (which can include breeding, temperature and tethering proposals), and dogs in public.
The volume of legislation introduced on a particular issue often reflects interest among lawmakers and the general public on perceived issues or concern. Volume statistics represent the individual proposals AKC GR monitors and addresses. However, issues of greatest priority for AKC GR are those that have the most significant potential impact on responsible dog owners, breeders and the sport. For this reason, key issues we highlight may not correlate precisely to bill volume.
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 geo-targeted legislative action alerts (296 in 2021), but also a wide range of additional resources for you, including expert field staff to work with you and your clubs, the legislative liaison program, legislative tracking and alerts, issue-based webpages with talking points and resources, policy analysis and model legislation, and a one-stop GR toolbox with advocacy and educational materials.
Many new resources were launched in 2021. Some highlights of new resources include: text alerts that allow you to contact lawmakers directly from your mobile device; webinars for engagement in specific legislation and policy issues; newly-redesigned, easy-to understand one-page policy fact sheets; brief, animated policy explainer videos; updated issue analyses and key issues webpages; and much more. These resources and policy commentaries are among those highlighted in the 90 blogs published by AKC GR in 2021 at www.akcgr.org.
AKC Government Relations resources and all our legislative alerts (296 in 2021) are located in our Legislative Action Center (www.akcgr.org). We strive to provide you all the resources and assistance you need to help advance good laws and defeat harmful ones -- but the most valuable input is your engagement!
Many legislatures will have abbreviated sessions in 2022 in order to focus on campaigns and elections. As a result, bills will likely be introduced and moved very quickly.
In addition, there could be ballot measures on the November 2022 ballot in states or localities regarding animal ownership. Already, there is a fight in Oregon over Initiative Petition 13, which would restrict breeding, hunting, and many other animal husbandry practices.
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 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. We will be sending alerts to our liaisons to send to their clubs. View more information on legislative liaisons, or email us at email@example.com.
- Visit the AKC Legislative Action Center (www.akcgr.org). Here 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. Here 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 2021 to make it such a successful year for dogs and dog owners. We look forward to continuing to work with you to continuing protecting our beloved breeds for generations to come!