Imagine a world without rabbit dogs; that is, if you dare. While such a concept may seem unlikely, it is actually possible that the right to hunt with dogs will someday be a freedom of the past. Each year different organizations pop up and try to get bills passed that will eradicate the right to hunt with dogs. In the even that they are eventually able to succeed, hunting will be forever changed, which is why it is important that hunting dog owners stand up for their rights.
The United States Sportsman's Alliance is taking that fight very seriously. Born in the 1970's in response to a bill that threatened the trapping community in Ohio, the USSA began as the Wildlife Legislative Fund of America and Wildlife Conservation Fund of America. From there, in 1978, they went on to become an advocate for sportsmen nationwide, later becoming known as the U.S. Sportsmen's Alliance (USSA) and the USSA Foundation (USSAF). Since their inception, the USSA has set out on a mission to protect the rights of those who hunt, trap, and fish. This is a large effort, spanning all 50 states on issues at state level and taking on Congressional battles regarding hunting as well.
Photo: Beagle Dog Page
A large part of the current focus of the USSA's mission includes fighting what they call Dog Wars. According to their website, the USSA's stance on Dog Wars can be summarized as follows:
"In recent years, USSA has worked against a nationwide wave of attacks on the sporting dog community by the animal rights lobby, setting the stage for the development of the Dog Wars campaign. The effort protects sporting dog owners from anti-hunters and thus far, USSA has monitored and worked on more than 350 bills, many of them restrictive kenneling bills masked as "puppy mill" legislation. To date, no bills have passed in any state that restrict sportsmen in raising and utilizing hunting dogs."
The prevention of such bills means a lot to not only the rabbit hunter but also the breeder or purchaser of rabbit dogs. Regardless of the many hats you may wear in the hunt field, one of those hats could be removed by legislation if not for efforts such as those of the USSA. While their efforts are very beneficial when it comes to keeping our hunting heritage alive, it is not possible to protect these rights through the efforts of the USSA alone. We as hunters need to be involved in the process as well.
In order to protect your rights to own, breed, and hunt with rabbit dogs, the first and most important step you can take is to educate yourself. Become aware of any pending legislature in your area and familiarize yourself with what it entails. Once you understand the ramifications of the bills making their way through the system, step up and use your voice to do something about those with which you disagree. Whether this means casting your own ballot or making phone calls to representatives who can circumvent such unwanted change, it is up to us to step into the ring and fight unwelcome, forced modifications to our hunting practices.
Is the USSA an organization you support? Are there other similar organizations about which you wish to spread the word? Please feel free to do so in the comments.