August 09, 2006

10 Tips for Successful Involvement in Canine Legislation

Courtesy of the American Kennel Club and adapted for Canadian content, here are ten tips for successful involvement in canine legislation.

1. Pay attention to the local news.

It is important to follow your local news carefully, watching for the kind of events that may trigger a dog related proposal by your local government. And don't forget to read the public notices section of the local newspaper. It announces legislative meetings, hearings, and details that the main stories might miss.

2. Take advantage of local information sources.

Your city or county courthouse, your public library, the staff or clerk of the local government, and even members of the media are all equipped to answer your legislative questions. Most phone books list numbers of local and government offices, and many governments send free informational materials. Don't be afraid to take your questions to the source.

3. Familiarize yourself with the local legislative process.

What is involved in getting a proposal passed into law in your area? Are public hearings required before the assembly or city council can vote? Are meetings open to the public? Can the mayor veto a bill? etc.

4. Know how you can become involved.

How can you get on the agenda to speak at a hearing? Are there rules for speaking? How far in advance are hearings announced, and where are such announcements posted? What is involved in becoming a member of a special task force or study committee should such an issue arise?

5. Get to know your local officials.

Learn who they are, what they support, when they were elected and when they come up for re-election. What are their personal interests? Do they have any pets? Arrange to meet with them to introduce yourself and your club's interests.

6. Acquaint yourself with your provincial representatives.

Become familiar with their names and interests. Find out who represents your district, and the districts in which your club has members. And don't forget those staff members! They can be valuable contacts, and great sources of information.

7. Find out which committees in your provincial and local government handle canine concerns.

An agriculture committee may deal with kennel regulations or zoning, while a commerce committee may monitor the sale of dogs. Get your name on these committees' mailing lists to receive information about upcoming hearings and agendas.

8. Learn about your federal representatives.

Who are the representatives from your province? On which committees do they serve? What are their interests? What issues do they support? When is the next election, and which of them will be on the ballot?

9. Involve your club.

Encourage club members to take an interest in legislative concerns. Share your legislative news with them regularly, so that they will not be surprised if you suddenly need their help. Organize a phone chain or another efficient form of contact so that you can alert club members easily if an issue arises requiring a rapid response.

10. Communicate with other groups.

Talk to groups that share your concern for canine welfare. In addition to other dog clubs, local shelters, veterinary societies, or animal owner groups make valuable allies. Remember, there is strength in numbers. Cooperation is often the key to success.

Courtesy and copyright of the American Kennel Club.
Adapted by Steve Barker for Canadian content and application.

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