New York City Council Member Paul Vallone has introduced a bill that would require full-service animal shelters to be established in the boroughs of Queens and the Bronx. Queens and the Bronx have a combined estimated population of over 3.6 million (if the two boroughs were an independent city, that city would be the third-largest in the nation), yet they currently have only “receiving centers” for animals. Manhattan, Brooklyn and Staten Island do have full service animal shelters.
“Receiving centers are not enough! They do not provide shelter or medical care for homeless animals, nor do they provide a place to recover lost pets before they’re euthanized,” stated Council Member Vallone. “Most importantly, since animals brought to these receiving centers in the Bronx and Queens must be transported to a full service shelter in the other boroughs, their continued absence places insurmountable pressure on the existing facilities which already operate at maximum capacity. In the end, homeless animals are the ones that face the consequences of this pressure as many otherwise healthy pets are lost to euthanasia.”
Nearly every City Council Member representing the Bronx and Queens is on record as supporting the use of city budget money for the construction of these full-service shelters, and the ASPCA strongly supports it as well. “With the tremendous investment of the ASPCA and in collaboration with our many partners, we have made significant progress for some of our city’s most vulnerable residents,” says ASPCA President and CEO Matt Bershadker. “However, there’s still much to do, and establishing full-service shelters in each borough is an essential step to getting us to a place where no adoptable animal dies.”
Guest blog by Jessica Johnson, Senior Manager of Grassroots Advocacy for ASPCA Government Relations.
In the age of modern technology, it’s easier than ever to contact lawmakers and let them know where we stand on animal protection issues. In fact, if you’re a member of our ASPCA Advocacy Brigade, you’ve received our timely email alerts that allow you to send letters to your legislators with a few quick clicks of a button!
But that ease is a double-edged sword—legislative offices are flooded with emails, so there’s a lot of competition to get your voice heard. While it’s still absolutely crucial to continue to email legislators and respond to our advocacy alerts, animal advocates must remember to use every tool at their disposal. And an often overlooked but equally easy-to-use tool is the old-fashioned telephone!
If you haven’t tried it before, it’s not uncommon to feel a little nervous about calling a legislative office. But you will be shocked at how simple, efficient and effective one phone call is.
Why are phone calls important? Precisely because most people are more comfortable with email. Since fewer people make phone calls than send emails, legislators may often give more attention and more weight to the callers. Your phone call is a more assertive and proactive form of advocacy—leading legislators to realize that you will hold them accountable for the decisions they make for animals.
Give it a try today! The Animal Emergency Planning Act (H.R. 4524), recently introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives, will require facilities such as commercial animal-breeders, zoos and laboratories to create plans for protecting animals in their care during disasters. These are businesses that make money off of animals, so the least they can do is prepare for their care during natural disasters and emergencies! But we need Representatives to pledge their support by cosponsoring this bill.
Identify yourself as a constituent and introduce yourself by name and location. Politics is personal, so don’t be afraid to share what role you or your family might play in the community.
Example: “Hello, my name is John Doe and I am a constituent living at 1234 Stone Avenue in Town, State. I own and operate the John’s Shoe Store downtown and I’m the president of the local VFW. My spouse teaches at Smith Kindergarten.”
Make your ask. Let them know—politely and succinctly—what you want.
Example: “I strongly urge Representative Johnston to support and cosponsor the Animal Emergency Planning Act, H.R. 4524, to require facilities such as commercial animal-breeders, zoos and laboratories to develop disaster response plans for their animals.”
If you want to, briefly explain why. Politely offer a short reason why the legislator should take the action you’re requesting. Here is more information and talking points on H.R. 4524.
Example: “Businesses that make money off of animals should have to prepare for their care during an emergency or disaster situation. September is National Disaster Preparedness month, so there’s no better time to cosponsor H.R. 4524.”
End with a “thank you.” You’re done!
A few quick tips:
Always remember to be clear, brief and polite. That’s the kind of representation animals need.
If the person on the other end of the line asks you a question you don’t know the answer to, it is absolutely okay to say, “I’m not sure, but I’ll look into that and get back to you.” Definitely don’t make something up!
Make it a habit. In a few weeks, check in again to see if the legislator has cosponsored the bill—and if not, find out if there’s any information you could provide to help sway his or her decision.
When you’ve made your phone call, report back on how it went in the comments below!
If you have any questions or want to connect further, feel free to contact my team at [email protected]. Thank you for your tireless advocacy for animals!
Is your pup patriotic? Today is Dogs in Politics Day!
Officially called “Checkers Day” after the famous 1952 speech by then-Senator Nixon, this day celebrates the importance of our four-legged friends, even in Washington! Canines have had the run of the White House for decades and have joined members of Congress on Capitol Hill.
With your help, we’re working hard to help keep dogs and their furry companions safe by advocating for them across the county—and we’ve made amazing progress.
However, there’s still a lot more to be done. Dogs don’t have thumbs, so they need you to stand up and be their voice!
Visit our online Advocacy Center to take action now and find resources on how to get involved on a state and national level.
Spread the word to your family and friends! Share the adorable card below on your social media channels and encourage everyone you know to speak up for animals.
Register to vote. By serendipitous coincidence, today is also National Voter Registration Day! Every election cycle, millions of Americans miss out on voting because they didn’t register in time. Election Day 2014 is November 4, and several states’ registration deadlines are approaching—don’t put it off, register today!
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.
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.