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A Sad Day For Town’s Canines

 

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

 

When she recently closed the door on the Town of North Hempstead Animal Shelter for the last time as its director, she knew she did her job well.

 

It was a long run for Hassett. She worked 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.

 

“Emotionally, it’s very, very hard,” Hassett said of stepping down. “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 came 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 called it a day; but what a job she did 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 a 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 heart worm, licensed and microchipped for easier identification if they are lost. The shelter’s address is 75 Marino Ave. Hassett said even if one is not looking for a dog, they 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

Mill Creek Residential, a multifamily apartment developer, announced last week that Hudson House, an age and income exclusive 36-apartment community, located at 104 Front St. in Mineola is open for occupancy. Senior affordable homes are eligible for applicants 55 years of age or older and households earning at or below 80 percent of the area median income for Nassau and Suffolk counties, according to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Hudson House has received 16 applications so far, according to Mill Creek Vice President Jamie Stover.

A few months ago, while returning to my car after attending a wake, I was surprised to catch a glimpse of something that immediately brought me back to my elementary school days. Directly in front of me stood a portion of the original concrete wall that had surrounded my alma mater.

 

In 1922, Corpus Christi Church purchased the Robert Graves estate on Searing Avenue and transformed its building into a parish school. It was a beautiful structure of Spanish-style architecture surrounded by the concrete wall, sporting huge ornate iron gates.


Sports

Mineola runners PJ Diskin, Kaitlin Phelps, and Yuri Karasz were award winners in the Lynn, Gartner, Dunne & Covello Sands Point Sprint 5 Kilometer Run, held on the grounds of Nassau County’s Sands Point Preserve on Saturday morning, Aug. 9.

The Mineola 9U Hurricanes recently completed its summer baseball season as the NJBL 9U Central Division Champions, finishing 10-2-1 on the year and secured a second place spot entering the playoffs.

The Hurricanes beat the North Shore Spartans for the fourth time this season in a playoff win in walk-off fashion as they came from behind to win 4-3 earning the Hurricanes a berth into the championship series. 


Calendar

Zoning Meeting

Thursday, Aug. 28

Mineola Village Meeting

Wednesday, Sept. 3

School Board Meeting

Thursday, Sept. 4



Columns

1959: The Year The Music Stopped Playing
Written by Michael A. Miller, mmillercolumn@gmail.com

The Eccentric Heiress Of ‘Empty Mansions’
Written by Mike Barry, MFBarry@optonline.net

Yellow Margarine And A Pitch For The Ages
Written by Michael A. Miller, mmillercolumn@gmail.com