This meeting was considered the “Coming Together” conference, 14 different states came together to discuss the possibility of forming an alliance. The ultimate goal is to discuss ideas between states that will help in our struggles, allowing us to form relationships with our brothers and sisters in dog hunting. This will prepare us to stand together if the time comes, as a united front. As Kirby Burch said, “The antis are attacking in every state. We wanted to strengthen the statewide groups. Get folks within the states to realize that they must work together to survive. Speak with one voice at the legislature. Currently, we do not need an organization that would require a revenue stream.” For now, we have the full support and transparency of 13 other states and their leadership to call upon when needed. The conference began with us going through each individual state and listing what we considered to be the top 3 problems we face in our state. As we went around the room, it didn’t take long to realize that most of us are fighting the same fight, in a different area of the country. The majority of our push back seemed to stem from animal rights groups, land owners, national forests, and even other hunters. The conference was orchestrated and directed by Jeromy Sullivent and Kirby Burch, and they did a fantastic job. The focus being that we need to build and strengthen our state organizations, especially in Florida. Florida is a fractured state with little communication and allegiance between like minded dog organizations. It was made clear to us that the need to unify these organizations with a political voice is crucial. The construction of a small organization that could represent all of the existing organizations in Tallahassee is currently underway. Clearly the priority would not be to change or alter the way any existing organization conducts themselves, but more so to gain participation from all groups in working toward a common goal. In order to properly make a stand, strength in numbers is needed. It has been advised that we share as much information as possible about our membership, including our databases and contact information. In order to reach everybody, a well put together and closely monitored data base is imperative. As a result of this conference we have been given the proper education and tools we need to create a database complete with geo mapping and the capabilities to accurately determine each member’s position in the voting districts and their boundaries. Political boundaries change frequently. It was made clear that it is very important we are aware who is where in regards to our political muscle. Once a strong foundation has been laid, a few of the primary goals for Florida will be to get some legislation passed that includes laws to protect both dog and owner. Every single state that was there, with the exception of Florida, has a law in place making it illegal to remove tracking or identification collars. Some states have laws regarding the right to retrieve your animal if it is off property, and almost all of them have laws that protect hunting as a heritage sport. Obviously laws like these should be top priority to everyone who dog hunts in our state. It is highly recommended that we employee lobbyists to accomplish these goals through legislature. Lobbyists monitored by qualified members of our dog hunting organizations. Other things that are vital to our longevity in this sport are the tools and tactics that we can use to combat anti hunting propaganda. Learning how to deal with and maneuver amongst our enemy, unfortunately is a necessity in today’s world. Getting the non hunting public factual knowledge about what we do is priority number one. Educating sportsmen on how to communicate and react when engaged by a fanatical anti hunter is also key to our success. Educating and providing law enforcement, forestry, and state officials with the proper tools they need to support us is also paramount. This conference has provided us a wealth of ideas and proven tactics, that we can all share and benefit from. It was suggested that we align ourselves with other organizations who’s longtime goals parallel ours. Open dialogue is encouraged with any organization that may not necessarily have your cause in their best interested, but possibly share the same enemy. Enlisting help from anyone who is wiling to stand with you is extremely important. Going forward, qualified sportsmen are needed to fulfill instrumental roles in the construction of a new Florida alliance. Keeping in mind, this will be a politically motivated entity, whose sole purpose will be to establish new laws and fight to protect the rights of the Florida dog hunter. It should also be said that at this time, an abundance of public information about this alliance can not be given out via social media. Once the initial formation is complete and clear representatives have been chosen, a more public stance can be taken. At that time, the enlistment of the non hunting community, existing hunting and sporting organizations, as well as private clubs and leases will be in effect. Please feel free to contact us at any time for more detailed information. Thank you for your existing support, as well as your future support, of your local and state organizations.
Lance Rimel & Allie Goodin