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TheDogPress Interviews Sarah Sprouse, AKC Canine Legislation Department Manager, on the first and worst Animal Rights bill, legal fees and lobbying firm.  Be sure to see footnote links wherein AKC withdraws from the fight against this bill!


July 2007 | TheDogPress Club News

Barbara J. Andrews, Editor-In-Chief


Well connected with the California legislature as a former staffer, Ms. Sprouse was particularly articulate as regards CA 1634. Ms. Sprouse has been with AKC three years.  She is extremely interesting, engaging, and sincere. Her emailed response to the questions below arrived the same afternoon.


Regarding AKC's fight against the Animal Rights Bill, we asked:

  • Can we cite any specific legislative victories accomplished by AKC?

  • Can AKC show expenditures for legal fees?

  • How much has AKC spent for media advertising to inform and educate pet owners, i.e. voters?

  • Regarding the law firm of Greenberg Taurig, LLP, why employ G.T. as a Lobbying Firm?

  • (Accredited as one of the best in Real Estate, Finance, and White Collar crimes, it is not known for Lobbying.) What is Jeff Leacox’s background as a lobbyist?

To these questions, Sarah replied that Greenberg Taurig is the 7th largest law firm in the U.S. (in terms of lawyers employed) and has many well-known clients for which it lobbies. She promised to send a list of those companies. She knows Jeff Leacox personally and mentioned examples of his capabilities at the HB 1634 hearing. She said he formerly worked for another firm and helped the Doberman club fight the ear cropping ban back in the 80’s.


AKC sent Sarah and others to Calif. for Lobbying Days. She has given legislators dog show tours, etc. AKC has produced educational brochures which it provides to clubs and also to Legislators who can then give the material to schools and take credit for having provided them. I lost my train of thought when Sarah mentioned the Best Friends project which I think she said includes a video and workbook series for children of different age groups. Best Friends is one of the lesser-known but more frightening AR groups!  I'm sure whoever at AKC chose the name for their children's education project was unaware of the implications.


Sarah doesn’t think AKC has given any money to clubs because "most would prefer to handle things their way through local knowledge and contacts." asked "Why would dog clubs decline financial assistance and then plead for donations?"


She mentioned Louisville as an example of a club that has its own lawyer.


Regarding financial expenditures to fight legislation, she didn’t know about newspaper or television but said the cost for Jeff Leacox was “not a small expenditure.”


As follow-up to our conversation, she sent the following email that same afternoon. Unfortunately, not all of the questions are addressed but instead, provides an overall look at the work that has been done.

AKC Actions in Opposition to CA AB 1634


"The American Kennel Club has employed multiple strategies to support the California purebred dog community’s opposition to CA AB 1634, the mandatory spay and neuter bill introduced by Assemblyman Levine, including:

  1. AKC staff attended the Assembly Appropriations Committee hearing on May 16th.

  2. AKC hosted a legislative training and Lobby Day on May 15th. The 130 attendees visited the Sacramento offices of Assembly members to educate them about the ineffectiveness and unintended consequences of AB 1634.

  3. AKC Chairman of the Board Ron Menaker and AKC President and CEO Dennis Sprung sent letters of opposition to the members of the Assembly Appropriations Committee.

  4. Ten legislative alert AKC website postings when the bill was introduced, at the time of committee assignment, upon introduction of draft amendments, and the continuance of the bill in committee until April 24th.

  5. AKC staff traveled to Sacramento to meet with staff for each member of Business and Professions Committee.

  6. AKC staff attended the April 24th hearing in the Business and Professions Committee.

  7. Provided materials to fanciers and breeders in Sacramento for the hearing to assist them in conducting meetings with their individual Assembly members.

  8. Multiple times AKC has contacted more than 2,000 AKC club officers, Delegates, legislative liaisons and AKC judges residing in California urging opposition to the bill.

  9. Contacted over 2,000 AKC Parent Club officers all over the United States to ask them to oppose AB 1634.

  10. Contacted more than 14,750 individuals in California who registered a litter with AKC in the past three years asking them to contact the Business and Professions Committee and their Assembly member.

  11. Contacted over 90,000 Californians who have registered a litter or a dog with the AKC in recent years asking them to oppose the bill through a letter writing campaign as well as personal office visits.

  12. Ron Menaker, Chairman of the Board of the American Kennel Club, wrote letters of opposition to the Business and Professions Committee and Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.

  13. Dennis Sprung, AKC President and CEO, expressed opposition to the bill in a letter to the Business and Professions Committee Chair and Members.

  14. Created the CA Spay/Neuter Action Center on AKC website including an opposition sample letter for California residents, a downloadable version of the "Sound the Alarm" flyer, and the Dennis Sprung and Ron Menaker letters to the Business and Professions Committee.

  15. Drafted sample letters for California residents, out-of-state fanciers and clubs.

  16. Created and updated a "Sound the Alarm" flyer for AB 1634 that has been distributed at California shows each weekend.

  17. Retained the services of Greenberg Trauig of Sacramento, California to assist in our lobbying efforts in the legislature.

  18. Multiple conversations with the Business and Professions Committee Democratic and Republican staff consultants to explain and advise on AKC points of opposition to AB 1634.

  19. Provided Asm. Levine with copies of AKC’s opposition letters and offered to meet with him or his staff to discuss our concerns.

  20. AKC has contacted the California Lodging Industry Association, the California Hotel and Lodging Association and the California Restaurant Association to discuss the negative impact that cessation of dog shows in California would have on those industries.

  21. Conducted dozens of phone calls offering guidance, direction and specific talking points for California fanciers in development of opposition positions.

The American Kennel Club continues to work with California fanciers in active opposition to the bill as AB 1634 moves to a hearing before the Senate Business and Professions Committee."


"As a former staffer in the California State Legislature I can tell you that the outpouring from the public on AB 1634 is rare indeed. There is not a legislator or staff member in the Capitol who is not familiar with this bill. The good news is they are engaged; the bad news is that many still need to be educated about why AB 1634 is bad public policy for California.


"That is why it is important that each and every concerned dog owner write to their Senator. Senators must hear from their own constituents! They want to hear from the people who elect them. The American Kennel Club has and will continue to communicate our opposition to the bill, but the greatest impact comes from having their local folks write, email and call their offices."


Sarah Sprouse

Manager, AKC Canine Legislation Department

5580 Centerview Drive

Raleigh, NC 27606

(919) 816-3720  (919) 816-4275 FAX


see AKC's Position Statement on Calif AB1634 which raises serious questions...

And the ultimate betrayal in 2008 AKC Withdraws Opposition to AB1634 s150423


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