A world champion Plott (the state dog of North Carolina), nine other dogs, and AKC staff met with legislators and state employees at Canines at the Capitol on May 31 at the North Carolina Legislative Complex in Raleigh, North Carolina.
Freddie (CH CWSG CSG County Line Krueger), a black brindle Plott, and breeder/owner Christina Officer of Kentucky posed for photos while the other dogs provided "dog therapy" to state workers and visitors.
The Canines at the Capitol event was hosted by the AKC Government Relations team to educate lawmakers and the public about the AKC's availability as a local resource for dog expertise and to promote the value of responsible AKC dog owners and breeders.
"The AKC's Raleigh office is not far from the state legislature and the AKC is both a constituent and an important voice for dogs and their owners in North Carolina. We wanted to give North Carolina lawmakers, staff and state workers the opportunity to learn more about the great things AKC and North Carolina kennel clubs do in their communities. We especially wanted them to recognize that they have a tremendous, expert resource for dog-related issues right in their own backyard," said Sheila Goffe, AKC Director of Government Relations.
"A number of AKC clubs and state federations have held similar successful educational events at their state capitols. These events provide a wonderful opportunity to highlight the positive impact of AKC clubs, breeders and responsible dog owners in their communities" Goffe said.
While the dogs remained cool under tents next to fans and tubs of ice, AKC staff answered questions, distributed materials, and offered cold beverages and dog-shaped cookies to visitors.
"We all received questions about identifying the best breed for the family, the Canine Good Citizen© program, dog training, AKC events — a broad range of topics. People were also delighted to learn they could compete in AKC events with their mixed-breeds through the AKC Canine PartnersSM program," said Jennifer Clark, AKC Manager of Canine Legislation.
"Several people asked if we could come every week," added Melissa Ferrell, AKC Government Relations Research Coordinator, who managed the Canines at the Capitol event.
The versatility of working dogs was demonstrated by volunteer handlers from the K9 Unit of the Thomasville (NC) Rescue Squad. Roxye Marshall described search and rescue work performed by Dina, a German Shepherd Dog that also participates in educational events on what do when a loved one is missing. Linda Faber discussed rubble searches performed by Carver, a certified FEMA urban disaster responder Border Collie that also competes in flyball. AKC CAR has provided this team with donations for training and equipment.
"I would like to thank all the participants for the tremendous efforts they put into making Canines at the Capitol such a success. We had an excellent turnout," said Goffe. "Many thanks go to Melissa Ferrell for handling logistics, to Barb Ohmann for her assistance and knowledge with set-up, to Patty Van Sicklen for ensuring the dogs were safe and happy despite the heat, to Jennifer Clark for working with the General Assembly ethics panel to ensure we were in compliance with all rules, and to Kim Garrett for photographing the event."
Click here for more photos and news from Canines at the Capitol.
Interested in hosting your own Canines at the Capitol day? Click here and here for examples of some of the materials AKC GR provided to legislators and guests.