It is never too early to use your retirement assets wisely: People of all ages have IRAs, 401(k)s, and 403(b)s, and yet these assets are often overlooked when considering how to help animals in need. A beneficiary designation on a retirement plan costs nothing now, and at the same time allows you to include the ASPCA in your future charitable giving without having to consult an attorney.
It is also one of the easiest planned gifts to make. Your plan administrator, Human Resources Department, or the financial institution that holds your assets can provide you with the necessary beneficiary designation form to complete. You still retain complete ownership of your account to spend during your later years and any leftover funds will go to the ASPCA.
You can even name multiple beneficiaries: The ASPCA can be a full or partial beneficiary of any portion of those assets. Another option is to name the ASPCA as a contingent beneficiary to inherit those assets should your primary beneficiary not survive you.
Also, naming the ASPCA as a beneficiary of your retirement plan is a great way to save on estate and income taxes. Retirement plan assets that are left to heirs other than a spouse are taxed; however, a charity such as the ASPCA pays no tax. Furthermore, taxes on retirement assets must be paid at death which leaves less money for heirs. Thus, if you plan on making a gift to charity in your estate plan, giving retirement assets tax-free is a great way to maximize the value of your estate for your heirs, while also providing for animals in need.
Other assets that can be used with beneficiary designations are life insurance policies, investment accounts, and bank accounts.
For more information on how you can make a difference for animals in need, please contact the ASPCA’s Office of Gift Planning at (212) 876-7700 ext. 4505 or by email at [email protected]. You can also find more information in the Planned Giving section of our website.
Berta and Bessie—who were only a year old at the time of their rescue—had been found living in squalor with little-to-no protection from the elements. They wore heavy chains and had no food or fresh water, and they had never been socialized with other people or dogs. In order to help them heal (both physically and emotionally), we sent them to the ASPCA Behavioral Rehabilitation Center in Madison, New Jersey. Over the course of the next year, they learned to trust people, take walks, play with toys, and receive belly rubs. Now these sweet girls just need one last thing: adopters!
Berta: Berta is a lover! She enjoys being touched, pet and cuddled, and will crawl right into your lap if you let her—even if you’ve just met! She loves to play with other dogs, and would do great in a home with a confident dog of similar energy and play style. Berta is a bit nervous walking in busy areas, and is especially nervous around bicycles, so adopters should be willing to work with her to make her comfortable with these things. As a bonus, if you look closely, the dark tan spot over her eye is in the shape of a heart!
Bessie: Bessie is a sweet clown. Though she is a bit shy around new people, she enjoys giving kisses and being pet by friends who have earned her trust. She really comes alive in the presence of another dog, and would do best in a home with at least one other pup. Bessie has played with dogs of all sizes and can adjust her play style to theirs. In addition, she’s earned a reputation as a “tap dancer,” because she gets so excited before walks and play dates that she literally can’t keep her feet on the floor! She is a bit nervous around loud noises, so she will need a patient family that will continue to help her discover the world.
If you are interested in adopting Berta or Bessie, please contact the ASPCA Behavioral Rehabilitation Center directly via email at [email protected] or call 973-377-5609.
Guest blog by ASPCA President & CEO Matt Bershadker
Just because most disasters strike with little or no warning doesn’t mean we can’t effectively prepare for them. But while a lot of attention has been devoted to disaster planning for people, disaster planning for pets is all too often left out of the conversation, with tragic results. September may be National Preparedness Month, but the truth is we should always be preparing –with both ourselves and our pets in mind—so we can always be ready.
As experts in both disaster preparedness and response, the ASPCA is very aware of this peril. Following Hurricane Sandy, we assisted more than 30,000 pets in New York and New Jersey, distributing nearly 40 tons of pet supplies to impacted pet owners, and sheltering nearly 280 displaced pets. This summer, we released our first-ever ASPCA smartphone app, which includes disaster preparedness and pet survival tips, a tool to store and manage your pet’s vital information, as well as practical tips and a customizable kit for recovering lost pets.
We put a lot of effort into keeping pets safe, but the biggest role belongs to their owners. Yet, according to a national ASPCA poll, more than one-third of cat and dog owners don't have a disaster preparedness plan in place, and only one-quarter say their animals are micro-chipped. In the Northeast, nearly half of dog owners and cat owners say they don't know what they would do with their pets in an evacuation, while slightly more pet owners in the South – where hurricanes are more common – are aware.
This lack of preparedness can have dire consequences. During Hurricane Katrina, approximately 10,000 animals were evacuated, but less than half were reunited with their families, according to Dr. Dick Green, our senior director of disaster response.
These outcomes aren’t inevitable. Let’s work together to share and take advantage of these valuable suggestions from our veteran rescuers:
Make sure all pets wear collars and tags with up-to-date identification
Microchip your pets and register the chip. It may be their ticket home if they become lost
Build a portable pet emergency kit with items such as medical records, water, pet food, medications and pet first aid supplies
Affix a pet rescue sticker to your windows (Get a free one here)
Have current photos of your pets on hand
Arrange a safe haven for your pets in the event of evacuation, and never leave them behind
Identify ahead of time where you’ll bring your pets -- whether it’s a relative’s house or a pet-friendly hotel -- because not all emergency facilities accept animals
Remember: any home unsafe for people is also unsafe for pets
Here’s a list of items pet owners should include in their pet preparedness kits:
Pet first-aid kit (ask your vet what to include)
3-7 days' worth of canned or dry food
Disposable litter trays (aluminum roasting pans work well)
Litter or paper toweling
Liquid dish soap and disinfectant
Disposable garbage bags
Pet feeding dishes
Extra collars or harnesses, as well as an extra leash
Photocopies of medical records – or you can store them on the ASPCA App
A waterproof container with a two-week supply of any medicine your pet requires (make sure to regularly replace expired food and medicines in your kit)
At least a week’s worth of bottled water for you and your pet (store in a cool, dry place and replace every two months)
A traveling bag, crate or sturdy carrier, ideally one for each pet
A blanket (for scooping up a fearful pet)
Recent photos of your pets (in case you are separated and need to make "Lost" posters)
Especially for cats: A pillowcase as a crate alternative, and large bags for supplies, toys, and scoopable litter
Especially for dogs: Extra leash, toys and chew toys, a week's worth of cage liner
Even if conditions are safe enough to stay home, you may still need to calm pets scared by lightning and loud noises. Prepare a small, safe space in which they can be comfortable, consider closing curtains and shades, play classical music or white noise to muffle the sounds, and most importantly, keep them inside.
Like most humans, animals don’t respond well to chaos. With hurricane season not ending until November, it’s critical for pet owners to be the true “first responders”— knowing just what to do when their beloved companions need them most.
Tune in tonight at 7:00 P.M. ET for our Google+ Hangout with the ASPCA’s Dick Green and Deborah Press as well as representatives from FEMA, USDA, and the Joplin Humane Society. We’ll discuss the challenges of keeping pets safe during an emergency. The discussion will be moderated by ABC News meteorologist Ginger Zee, and includes an appearance by Joy, an ASPCA-rescued Sandy survivor.
The ASPCA, at the request of the Monroe County Humane Investigator and the Monroe County Sherriff’s Office, is assisting with the removal and sheltering of 15 dogs and a parakeet found living in an overcrowded mobile home in rural Kendall, Wisconsin.
As a result of an investigation initiated by Monroe County Humane Investigator Bekah Weitz, a search warrant was executed this morning for the removal of the animals.
Our Field Investigations and Response (FIR) team encountered a devastating scene: 15 dogs—including Chihuahuas and Pomeranians—were found living amongst feces, trash, and rotting food in a poorly ventilated, cramped environment. Multiple dogs exhibit signs of neglect, including dental disease and dehydration, among other medical issues. Responders also discovered animal remains on the property.
“The dogs were living in filth, and our immediate goal is to transport them to a safe place,” says Kyle Held, Midwest Regional Director of the ASPCA’s FIR team. The dogs are currently being taken to an emergency shelter to receive care and treatment from our medical experts until suitable placement options are available.
Agencies including Texas Humane Heroes in Leander, Texas, have deployed responders to assist with the removal and sheltering of the dogs. PetSmart Charities® provided supplies, including pet crates and food, to support the rescue operation.
These dogs are safe now, but their long road to recovery is just beginning. With your help, we can give these animals—and the thousands of others who still need us—a chance at a better life. Please consider making a gift today.
Stay tuned to aspca.org/blog for further details about this developing case.
For adoptable cats Mario and Ricky, it’s all about living a balanced life. They aren’t the type of guys to rush into things. These independent cats, who are best buddies and would like to be adopted together, are shy and prefer to take things slow. They may need a little extra time to warm up to their new surroundings, but with a space to themselves and the help of a few yummy treats, these two will happily adjust to their new home in no time!
These sweet cats like affection on occasion, but also enjoy quality time alone relaxing on the couch or in their favorite chair. They’d make the perfect match for a family looking to bring home two furry friends that don’t require a lot of attention. Mario and Ricky would do best in a quiet household with an experienced adopter. Adopt Mario and Ricky today!
Mario and Ricky are available for adoption at the ASPCA Adoption Center. If you are interested in adopting, please call our Adoptions department in New York City at (212) 876-7700 ext. 4120. To learn more about these best friends, please visit Mario and Ricky’s profile pages.