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A Sad Day For Town’s Canines

For Susan Hassett it wasn’t over until the last dog barks.

 

That was Feb. 27, when she closed the door on the Town of North Hempstead Animal Shelter for the last time as its director.

 

It has been a long run for Hassett. She started working at the shelter, which is tucked at the end of a winding avenue in Port Washington, for 36 years and has been its director for the last 25.

 

But now it is time to go; it’s just too difficult to stay. “Emotionally, it’s very, very hard,” Hassett said. “I need to find some peace.” A successor has not been named.

 

It’s not a single incident, or even a dozen, that made up Hassett’s mind. It is the never ending callousness she comes into contact with. People give up their dogs because they are moving, or their child has grown bored with it, or they no longer like its color.

Dogs are given to the shelter because they have grown old, have health problems or just don’t fit their owners’ lifestyle anymore.

 

“We cry a lot here,” Hassett said.

 

But there are also tears of joy, when dogs that have been at the shelter for a couple of years finally get adopted, or someone takes a dog that is well along in years.

 

“Those are the good days,” Hassett said.

 

Still, even these times take a toll because it’s hard to go from highs to lows and back again on a constant basis.

 

So Hassett is calling it a day; getting ready to pack up her office full of doggy memorabilia (the shelter does not have cats) and take a retreat.

 

But what a job she has done in her 36 years at the shelter, starting out as a cage cleaner and working her way up. 

 

“Sue has served the town with incredible distinction and passion,” said North Hempstead Town Supervisor Judi Bosworth. “She has always put the health and welfare of the animals first and has gone above and beyond in fulfilling the mission of the North

Hempstead Animal Shelter. During her career, she oversaw the expansion of the shelter, and the construction of a brand new ‘Paws to Remember’ patio, both of which have enhanced the overall experience at the shelter for residents.”

 

When Hassett arrived in 1978 the shelter took in 2,500 dogs a year, and a good deal of them were euthanized. Now, about 400 dogs are taken in annually and a euthanization is rare.

 

Hassett credits the community and the shelter’s outreach, as well as its programs, for the dramatic fall in numbers.

 

“People used to let their dogs run freely and they were picked up and brought here,” Hassett said. “Or, they just didn’t care enough about their dogs.”

 

Now, “People are much more aware of how to properly take care of their dogs,” Hassett said.

 

The shelter has played a role in educating the public, holding classes in how to train dogs, so they aren’t unruly and potentially dropped off at the shelter by exasperated owners. The shelter also holds classes in how to properly treat dogs.

 

“If everyone took care of their pet, we wouldn’t have to be here,” Hassett said.

 

But dogs that are at the shelter get very good treatment. There are staff and volunteers who spend time with them. The shelter has indoor and outdoor runs and no matter what the breed, all dogs are treated equally. That even goes for pit bulls, which make up about half of the shelter’s dog population. Hassett attributes the abundance of pit bulls to their “exploitation” and reputation as fighting dogs.

 

She strongly believes it is people, not the breed, that are at fault when the animals become unruly. Indeed, a walk through the shelter found pit bulls laying on their backs waiting to be petted and eager to give happy licks.

 

Hassett has adopted about 16 dogs from the shelter over the years and currently has six, along with one cat. Her office is lined with photos of many of these adoptees, which, in many cases, appeared to be on their last legs when she took them, but then rallied.

 

Hassett says the shelter is an ideal place for getting a new companion. All dogs that are adopted have been checked by a vet, spayed or neutered, checked for heartworm, licensed and microchipped for easier identification if they are lost. The shelter’s address is 75 Marino Ave. Hassett said even someone not looking for a dog can still help out by volunteering or making a donation.

 

As for future plans, Hassett will step up another one of her passions: gardening.

 

And it’s hard to make a total break from something she has done for over half her life. That’s why Hassett may keep a hand in things by volunteering at the shelter. 

News

The debate over New York State Common Core standards continues, with students from local school districts showing a mild resistance to the exams.

 

According to the New York State Allies for Public Education, 39 students in the Herricks School District opted out of the English exam, while 74 did not take the math test. For the New Hyde Park-Garden City Park School District, 17 students did not take the English test while 18 refused to take the math test.

At the Oct. 17 meeting of the Herricks Board of Education, Superintendent of Schools Dr. John Bierwirth discussed the recent investigation of students who have been illegally attending school in the Herricks School District, despite living in outer areas. Bierwirth said that 14 prospective cases were investigated and eight students were forced to leave the district.

 

Board of Education President James Gounaris said weeding out students who are attending school in Herricks under false pretenses is boiled down to one fact: it takes away valuable resources from the children of tax-paying members of the community.


Sports

The Sewanhaka Indians varsity football team hosted Elmont Spartans on Saturday, Oct. 18 in its final home game of the regular season. 

 

It certainly did not go as the Indians had hoped, falling 18-8, in a mistake filled game. Head coach George Kasimatis said the Indians had their chances, but kept digging themselves into a hole with mental mistakes on both sides of the ball. 

 

Playing from behind, senior running back Brenton Mighty was able to break free for a long touchdown run, to put the Indians on the board. 

Sewanhaka Indians Head football coach George Kasimatis told his team to expect a dogfight in this weeks game against the New Hyde Park Gladiators, and he was right after its 35-21 victory last week. 

 

“All the kids know each other really well, it’s always competitive when we play each other,” he said. 


Calendar

PTA Meeting - October 22

International Night - October 23

Halloween Dance - October 24


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