The fight for dog owners' rights is something we all need to become involved in, from a grassroots level on up, in order to fight the massive animal rights movement. Local government is the best place to start. You, as dog breeders, trainers, hunters, competitors, etc. are the subject matter experts and should be the most important voices in canine legislation. The local level of government is susceptible to interest groups—which is good for us if dog owners take action, but works against us when the animal right powerhouse groups have too much influence. Size matters: the more people you can get involved on your side, the greater an impact you should have.
- Engage your local dog clubs and groups to work together so as to maintain a unified front. Network with as many groups as possible that share your interest in dogs.
- The internet is a great tool; use message boards, email lists, etc to connect with other like-minded dog owners and get your message out.
- Follow local news stories and government websites to spot potential legislation that can affect dog owner’s rights.
- Do your research and find out who your local and state officials are; familiarize yourself with their interests, backgrounds, and political beliefs.
- Educate yourself on the local legislative process, what the steps are to pass a law or ordinance, and at what points you can attend hearings or bring forward petitions.
- Find out what local committees you can join to have an impact; many communities have animal control/shelter committees. Joining an animal control/ shelter committee will lend more credence to your opinion and expertise, and will help to establish you with local officials.
- Learn who your state senators and representatives in your district are. Beyond that, you should also learn which state senators and representatives are most active in animal issues.
- It’s also a good idea find out what other state government departments and committees deal with canine laws and regulations.
- Another avenue is to reach out to animal law sections of your state bar association, or even animal law groups at law schools near you. Animal law is a growing area of interest for lawyers and law students, and they could be an ample resource for assistance.