Girl Scouts to American Kennel Club: Protect the Puppies!

The young girls first took on the issue in 2011 when attempting to earn a Bronze Award, the highest honor a Girl Scout can receive. They studied puppy mills, and then mounted a campaign to raise public awareness. They testified before the state senate on legislation cracking down on puppy mills and in the process met Governor Martin O'Malley, who promised to sign the bill if passed. It did, and the girls sat behind O'Malley as he signed the bill into law.

WATCH video of Troop 6811 testifying.

"They saw (the rule change) as an extension of their work and they wanted to be more involved," said parent Steve Kanstoroom. "They believe they can make a difference. They really do."

Last month, the girls went to Washington, D.C., to meet with an aide to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, who told them that both Vilsack and President Obama support the proposed Animal Welfare Act rule change.

Their efforts also attracted the attention of the Humane Society of the United States, which has been vocal about the AKC's opposition to the proposed rule.

"AKC is supposed to be the dogs' champion, but it has ironically been an impediment to fundamental and essential change for dogs living in filth and extreme confinement in puppy mill operations," Wayne Pacelle, CEO of the HSUS, told ABC News. Earlier this week, HSUS released a report accusing AKC, which collects membership fees from thousands of dog breeders, of blocking laws across the country that would crack down on puppy mills, thus affecting the AKC's members.

"This is one of the most important dog welfare reforms of the decade, and AKC is opposing it."

In a statement to ABC News, the AKC said it "supports legislation to strengthen enforcement and increase penalties for canine cruelty and neglect."

"The AKC has expressed its concerns about the proposed USDA regulations," said the statement, "because the hobby breeder who raises puppies in their home will be impacted in the same way as the large scale commercial internet puppy seller. The AKC believes it is neither the intent of the Animal Welfare Act nor USDA to place such an unfair burden on small, hobby breeders."

"Because of our long history and breadth of experience in advancing the care and conditions of dogs, we know that regardless of the number of dogs owned or the manner in which breeders interact with potential puppy buyers, a 'one size fits all' breeder regulation is unfair and unenforceable and not in the best interest of dogs and consumers in the this country."

Troop 6811 is now urging people to voice their opinions on the proposed rule before the public comment period ends Monday. Twelve-year-old Greta Knowles says she and her fellow Scouts feel like they barked up the right tree.

"We Girl Scouts think it will do a big favor for the dogs."

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