While overweight animals might have “more to love,” the truth is that obesity in pets is a serious cause for concern. Animal obesity can lead to a variety of health problems including difficulty breathing, pancreatitis, orthopedic issues, diabetes, and a compromised immune system. So when an overweight pug named Bubba arrived at the ASPCA in July, we knew he would need an active adopter willing to help him work toward a healthier weight. Fortunately, Carolyn O. saw the pug beneath the pudge, and Bubba is now thriving in her home. Here is their Happy Tail.
The ideal weight for an adult male pug is between 13 and 20 pounds. When Bubba came to the ASPCA, he weighed 33. Surrendered by an owner who could no longer care for him, Bubba’s health was in serious jeopardy: In addition to obesity, he was suffering from classic brachycephalic syndrome—an anatomical abnormality bred into dogs with the “pushed-in” face conformation—that makes it difficult to breathe. Even worse, Bubba’s immune system was weak from obesity and he contracted an ear infection and a terrible case of pneumonia. He needed to get into a loving home as soon as possible.
Fortunately for Bubba, Carolyn and her boyfriend Ryan were searching for a small dog to adopt. “A pug was what we both really wanted,” says Carolyn, “but rescuing was ultimately more important to us.” At the ASPCA Adoption Center, she and Ryan met a number of dogs, but most were bigger than what their apartment allowed. They went home empty-handed.
A week later, Ryan convinced Carolyn to return to the ASPCA and take one more look around. “We went back to the Adoption Center exactly one week after our initial trip to discover that there was one ‘small’ dog available that day,” she says. “They mentioned that the one dog happened to be a pug, and when we came down the hall and saw him it seemed absolutely perfect!”
After taking one look at Bubba, the couple was smitten. “We knew we’d hit the jackpot. Between his great personality, adorable face wrinkles, and infectious smile, there was no way we weren’t going to adopt Bubba,” Carolyn says. But back at home, the reality of his condition set in.
“The first two weeks were really difficult,” says Carolyn. Due to his obesity and the resulting pneumonia, Bubba was unable to even climb the stairs to Carolyn’s apartment. On walks, he couldn’t even make it around one block before becoming too tired to continue. Carolyn and Ryan implemented a strict prescription diet and weight-loss regime to help Bubba shed some pounds and overcome his illness, and slowly but surely, the precious pooch showed signs of improvement.
It has now been two months since Bubba’s adoption, and he has turned into a whole new dog. After shedding some weight, Carolyn says, “He has recovered marvelously! He makes it up the stairs no problem (often quicker than me) and loves his walks to Central Park.” Bubba now spends his days snoozing, chewing on his alligator plush toy and snuggling with his new parents. “He has a really happy and positive disposition,” says Carolyn. “He smiles constantly and brings us nothing but joy!”
Thanks to Carolyn and Ryan’s patience and persistence, Bubba is finally at a healthy weight and can look forward to a long and love-filled life in his new forever home.
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.