197 – Local Legislative Liaison Defends Our Rights | Pure Dog Talk
New Legislative Advocate in Our Corner
Robert Miller and a WPG puppy named Hoss.
Robert Miller, AKC’s new legislative analyst and outreach coordinator, is a Wirehaired Pointing Griffon breeder of merit and hunter. His background in legislative work and public information is being put to use on the west coast to provide proactive involvement with fanciers.
Legislation is constantly popping up that affects everyone’s ability to do what they want with their dogs, or even have the dog they want, Miller said.
Fight for your rights
“It’s important to recognize that you have to pay attention to that kind of stuff,” Miller warned. “There’s no one fell swoop that will take away all your dog rights. But you’re going to have a lot of little pieces, chips, death by a thousand cuts. Eventually you’ll say I want to get this kind of dog and you can’t because there is breed specific legislation, which is basically animal profiling. There’s a lot of laws that come up, sometimes well-intentioned, that have unintended consequences.”
Miller’s role is to reach out to fanciers, to encourage them to pay attention and speak up.
“We depend on our dog people. They need to contact us when something pops up at the local level,” Miller said.
“Sometimes you have to step out of your comfort zone,” Miller advised. “If legislators know it’s coming from constituents, they pay attention, they listen. Local people carry more weight with legislators than AKC. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel. We can help you develop things that are germane to your specific district.”
It comes down to someone trying to tell you what you can and can’t do with your animals, Miller noted.
“Having animals and using them is a basic human right. People have had dogs for thousands of years. There is this recent sentiment that that is abusive. We believe you should be able to have the dog you want,” Miller said.
Get ahead of the curve
AKC is taking a more proactive approach with this new position.
“Being able to respond quickly is advantageous for all dog owners. I’m visiting local kennel clubs. I’ll do whatever it takes to solve the problem or provide education,” Miller offered. “Make friends with local legislators. They’re people just like you and I. Drop by the office. Get to know who they are. The squeaky wheel really does get listened to. Be civil and get to the point.”
The average legislator is probably not an expert on dogs, Miller observed. “If you are involved with dogs, you know a lot. They (elected officials) like it when someone can share their expertise.”
The people who would like to take our rights away are very active, Miller reiterated. “We need to pull a page out of their playbook. Get proactive. Do things. Run for an office, if that’s something you think you want to do.”