AKC Promotes Responsible Dog Owners with 600-plus Nationwide Events
AKC fights breed bias via Responsible Dog Ownership Day. More than 600 events are planned throughout the nation this month. (Pet Pulse Design by Mike Lloyd, Photo Courtesy of American Kennel Club)
NEW YORK -- After drawing 20,000 people to its Manhattan event last year, the American Kennel Club will host its sixth annual AKC Responsible Dog Ownership Day this month, featuring groups representing dozens of breeds.
The AKC’s other flagship event will be at the North Carolina State Fairgrounds in Raleigh, N.C., on Saturday, Sept. 27. That location drew 5,000 attendees a year ago.
“The main goal is to spread the message of responsible dog ownership, and teach pet owners, and future pet owners, the importance of being a responsible dog owner,” said Michelle Barlak, public relations manager for the Manhattan-based AKC.
More than 600 smaller, related events are also being held by AKC affiliate organizations across the country, most in September. Those typically attract 500 to 1,000 people, according to Barlak.
Groups interested in hosting an event for Responsible Dog Ownership Day can still register on the AKC Web site, AKC.org.
One reason the AKC is promoting responsible pet ownership, Barlak said, is “to prevent restrictive legislation and problems in the community that can be caused because people are unhappy with the way owners are caring for their dogs.
“There are a lot of communities across the country that are trying to enforce breed specific legislation.
“And often the breeds that are targeted are what we call bully breeds.”
Those breeds include Bulldogs, American Stafford Pit Bull terriers, Stafford Pit Bull terriers, and Bull terriers. Also targeted are American Pit Bull terriers, a breed not recognized by the AKC but by other organizations. Dobermans and Rotweillers have been similar legislative targets.
As an example, legislation banning “pit bulls” was introduced last spring by Ohio State Rep. Tyrone Yates (D-33rd District).
“We support legislation that addresses the ownership of the dog, not the breed,” Barlak said. “So we feel that every dog should be on the same level, and they should be judged by their deed, not their breed.”
The AKC Pet Promise was introduced last year, which the organization is encouraging all of its member organizations to include at their events.
“It’s a 10-step pledge that pet owners can sign, and it outlines ten things that you can do to be a responsible dog owner,” Barlak said. “And 10 things that define a responsible dog owner.”
An online version of the AKC Pet Promise, which can be signed electronically, is available on the organization’s Web site.
Responsible Dog Ownership Day events in New York, Raleigh and elsewhere will also feature Meet the AKC Breeds. Clubs representing various breeds will have booths with dogs for the public to meet and greet. The AKC has nearly reached its goal of having 50 breeds represented this month in New York, Barlak said.
Many rare breeds will be on hand, including the Tibetan terrier, Chinese crested, Pharaoh hound, Black Russian terrier and Finnish Lapphund.
This will be a rare opportunity for people to sample a wide variety of breeds in one location.
“They can talk to experts of that breed to find out if that’s the right breed for their lifestyle,” Barlak said. “And that’s the first step of being a responsible dog owner, is finding the right breed for your lifestyle.”
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