The range and scope of Kennel Club interests and activities is ever-widening, and for some time, the Kennel Club has been conscious of its responsibility to defend the dog's role in society, by becoming more vocal in lobbying against issues that it feels are against both dogs', and their owners' interests. The Kennel Club increasingly works alongside Members of Parliament, both here and in Europe, and in more and more instances is the first port of call on matters canine. It has also found that, with the assistance of canine enthusiasts throughout the country and indeed other areas of the world, dog owners and their input are valued when agreeing policy or framing legislation.

The Kennel Club, by its very nature, has a wide-ranging remit and gets involved in many dog related issues - some general, and many more specialised. For example, in conjunction with dog owners, it has voiced concern regarding the proposed Countryside & Rights of Way (CROW) Act and its possible restrictions, which will become law in 2005. The KC has met with the Countryside Agency - the organisation responsible for mapping the land - and continues to keep a close eye on developments regarding this legislation. It is in dog owners' interests to form liaison groups that will then be able to apply to join Local Access Forums to be organised by local authorities throughout the country. These statutory bodies will advise on improving public access to land in their area for all types of open air recreation and the views of local people will be taken into account.

Shortly, the Kennel Club and PRO Dogs will be announcing the launch of UKDOG, which will provide guidance and support to encourage dog owners to form regional groups with a view to defending their rights as responsible owners. Initially it will be the intention of UKDOG to advise owners regarding the implementation of the CROW Act, although the remit will be extended to other 'anti-dog' issues. This initiative follows the highly successful campaign in 2001 by the New Forest Dog Owners' Group (NFDOG), whose committee gained significant successes in lobbying against the Forestry Commission's decision to implement the CROW Act on New Forest land, to the detriment of dog walkers in the New Forest area. The Kennel Club and PRO Dogs have been involved from the inception of NFDOG's activities and continue to share their concerns about the effects of the CROW Act nationwide - if dog owners do not have their say at the earliest opportunity of the process. As well as advising dog owners, UKDOG plans to meet with various bodies who have an interest in this issue such as the National Trust and the RSPB, with a view to more clearly understanding their position and working with them to ensure that as far as possible, dogs are not further discriminated against. UKDOG also hopes to provide speakers for presentations on issues of concern such as the CROW Act and will make available to newly established UKDOG groups information and tools to help them with their campaigns. It also welcomes contact from dog owners eager to establish their own groups and will help them to do so.

The Domino Campaign, a group of concerned dog owners under the umbrella of the Kennel Club formed to protest in the strongest possible terms against Breed Specific Legislation in Europe and throughout the world, continues to gather momentum. The Kennel Club has presented to MEPs in Strasbourg and Brussels regarding this issue. The campaign call is to 'Punish the deed, not the breed' - based on the circumstances of individual occurrences, rather than a complete breed ban for a single misdemeanour. Closer to home, the Kennel Club has addressed the Associate Parliamentary Group for Animal Welfare at Westminster with regard to the dangerous dog issue. The office will continue to build on this area for the future. In conjunction with other agencies, in June 2002 the Kennel Club hosted the first meeting of the Dangerous Dogs' Act Study Group and discussion is on-going. The office have also had meetings with the Metropolitan Police Service to discuss and obtain the release of dogs held in kennels as a result of the flawed Dangerous Dogs' Act 1991, and in recognition of the Kennel Club's work in this area, the Kennel Club Secretary has recently been awarded a Commendation by the Chief Superintendent at New Scotland Yard for her help in 'the outstanding work in the administration of the police response to Dangerous Dogs.'

The Kennel Club provides the Secretariat for the Dog Legislation Advisory Group. Members include the RSPCA, NCDL, Blue Cross, BSAVA and the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons. This Group works well together and meets every couple of months to scrutinise current legislation and to act on forthcoming issues prior to these reaching the statute books.

The Kennel Club were invited to consult on the Animal Welfare Bill by DEFRA and in its response stated that, in its opinion, the Breeding and Sale of Dogs Welfare Act has caused particular problems in the interpretation of the definition of a 'business'. Comment was also made on the issue of tail docking, with the Kennel Club stating that it supports the case for choice in docking, ie that it is up to the individual whether or not they have the tails of pups docked, as indicated by the current Kennel Club breed standards and provided that owners adhere to its regulations. Officials from the Kennel Club also met with Elliott Morley MP recently to discuss docking, the European Convention for the Protection of Pet Animals and other issues. The KC has also asked why the Dangerous Dogs Act has been excluded from this review - as it is an essentially flawed piece of legislation which has proved ineffective and requires a drastic overhaul in order to place emphasis on the actions of an individual dog and owner rather than on whole breeds of dog. The lines of communication will remain open between DEFRA and the Kennel Club regarding this issue, in an attempt to make further amendments. Finally, the Kennel Club requested that the review extend its remit to encompass the use of electronic 'training' collars for dogs as it maintains that these are inappropriate training devices particularly as they are freely available to all owners with little or no knowledge of their use. In conjunction with David Rendel MP, the Kennel Club gave a presentation in April 2002 to the Associate Parliamentary Group for Animal Welfare on this subject.

The Hunting With Dogs' Bill is another piece of proposed legislation which may have huge implications for dogdom. The Kennel Club is well aware of this and is working hard to ensure that the interests of dog owners are protected.

The Kennel Club has petitioned, in conjunction with the Pet Care Trust, against the London Local Authorities Bill, which, in its original draft, would have discriminated heavily against dog owners in London when exercising their dogs. This Private Bill has been drawn up to control professional dog walkers and addresses the issues of dog fouling and intimidation of other walkers due to packs of dogs being out of control in public parks. The Pet Care Trust and the Kennel Club agree that problems exist and are supportive of national legislation providing for licensing of professional dog walkers across the board, but in its current form the Bill could affect the private dog owner too. Wandsworth Borough Council, as promoters, and the petitioners are currently reviewing their position and discussions will be on-going.

The KC continues to support the Westminster Dog of the Year Competition, which provides an opportunity to keep the dog firmly in the minds of politicians and the media. Last year's event in October attracted a record number of politicians from both Houses and all the major parties, and received good coverage in the media.

Finally, with Government's intention to review the European Convention for the Protection of Pet Animals, the Kennel Club has set up a study group to ensure the future health of all breeds and obviate the need for adoption of this Convention. The Kennel Club continues to liaise with DEFRA regarding this issue.

These and other initiatives mark the determination of the Kennel Club to extend its representation of dogs and their owners, and provide a voice to be heard on their behalf in the halls of Government. These are examples of just some of the areas in which the Kennel Club concentrates its efforts, in an attempt to protect man's best friend's crucial role in society.