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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

In a typical Long Island community packed with houses and backyards, there are a couple of acres of open land of community gardens where people are growing basil and dahlias and roses and cabbages—people like Terry Dunckey of Westbury and Peg Woerner of Great Neck, tending their small plots and helping to promote sustainable and organic practices.

East Meadow Farm, off Merrick Avenue, is owned by Nassau County and operated by Cornell Cooperative Extension (CCE) of Nassau County. Previously it was a family-owned farm that was purchased by the county through the Environment Bond Act Program, a $150 million program that called for, among several mandates, the preservation of 400 acres of open space. In 2009, CCE of Nassau was awarded the lease to the land and in January 2012 took possession of the property. East Meadow Farm is a place where we can get the best advice on how to make our gardens grow without harming the earth. Part of the CCE’s original proposal was the establishment of a farmer’s market and, now, the market is open two days a week, a place to purchase organic vegetables and flowers during the growing season.

Drivers—get ready to slow down. Nassau County is currently in the process of installing school zone speed cameras in an effort to enhance safety by encouraging drivers to travel with caution, as well as support law enforcement efforts to crack down on violators and prevent accidents caused by speeding.

Nassau County officials say they’re still investigating locations in the Mineola School District, while leaning towards installing cameras near the North Side or Willets Road schools in the East Williston School District. Cameras could begin operation in September.


Sports

Nobody wants to make excuses, but sometimes when the injury bug hits, it’s impossible to overcome. Mineola Mustangs football head coach Dan Guido, entering his 28th season at helm, knows the injuries were the cause for their first-round defeat at the hands of the West Hempstead Rams last November.

“There was too many injuries on the offensive line last season,” said Guido. “It was supposed to be our strength and it ended up being a weak link by the end of the season.”

Even with those injuries, the Mustangs went 4-4 during the regular season.

The BU15 Mineola Revolution were crowned champions of the Roar at the Shore Tournament 2014 in West Islip on Aug. 10. After dropping the opener 2-0 against North Valley Stream, Mineola bounced back to beat Freeport Premiere 2-1.

The Revolution’s offense exploded in the third game as they beat West Islip 7-0. Mineola’s final game pitted them against Quickstrike FC, which entered the contest without a loss and within a point of winning the tournament.


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