Written by Karen Talley Thursday, 03 April 2014 00:00
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.
Saturday, 25 October 2014 00:00
Way before Home Depot or Ace Hardware came into existence, there were little mom-and-pop shops like Munder’s True Value on Hillside Avenue in Williston Park. The hardware store, which opened its doors in 1948, is somewhat of a suburban dinosaur having outlasted several other hardware stores in the area.
“My father, Charles, opened this store in 1948 after returning home from World War II,” said Bill Munder, who took over the store operation seven years ago. “His parents wanted to know his plans after he returned home from the marines and he decided to open this store on Hillside Avenue.”
Friday, 24 October 2014 00:00
The debate over New York State Common Core standards continues, with students from the Mineola School District showing a mild resistance to the exams.
According to the New York State Allies for Public Education, Mineola had some of the lowest numbers, with eight students opting out of the English Language Arts test. However, not a single Mineola student missed the math test. In East Williston, the opt out rates were 75 students in ELA and 60 in math.
Thursday, 23 October 2014 00:00
The New York Cosmos hosted the Mineola Athletic Association’s Soccer Club recently for its penultimate fall 2014 home game. More than 140 members of the MAA soccer club and their families came out on a chilly October evening to show their love of the game. Twenty-two Mineola boys and girls had the honor of escorting the New York Cosmos and Ottawa Fury players onto the field in the traditional “Walk of Champions.”
The Mineola spirit must have inspired the home team, as spectators enjoyed the exciting 2-1 Cosmos victory, with the game-winning goal coming in stoppage time.
Thursday, 23 October 2014 00:00
As a current member of the Mineola High School Varsity Soccer team, senior, Catherine Cunningham has been dominating the scoring for the Mustangs. She has 12 goals and two assists in the last seven games.
In her last week of play alone, she amassed six goals in just three games. As a captain for the last two years, Cunningham has been an All-Conference and All-Class player, leading her team to two victories so far this season.