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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

While this year’s New Hyde Park Street Fair takes place one day before the first official day of fall, the event keeps the spirit of summer alive a little longer for the 20,000-25,000 attendees. 

 

Organizers are looking to up the ante for the 19th annual event on Saturday, Sept. 20, with the usual clowns and crafts supplemented by a petting zoo, pony rides and a new children’s carnival, from New Hyde Park-based Send in the Clowns.

 

“We try to capatilize on all the elements of the fair that work and modify ones that need work,” said New Hyde Park Village Board Research Assistant/Fair

Coordinator Janet Bevers. “The fair has been in place for 19 years now so in essence we follow a similar format. We invite all the village merchants to participate.”

 

The pony rides will be stationed near the Green Meadow Farms petting zoo on Lakeville Road, with the carnival setting up shop in the village’s Central Boulevard parking lot.

 

“It’s exciting to see a local company taking on a big piece of the fair,” Bevers said.

 

Fair reps expect at least 220 vendors to line the street fair this year. In the fair’s inaugural outing in 1995, just 90 craft vendors showed up.

 

“I think it’s one of the biggest events in Nassau County,” Queens-based Craft-A-Fair President Tony Ciuffo said. “The fair accentuates the local merchants.

Every year it gets more and more exciting. I expect new vendors this year. Around 25 percent of the vendors will be new this year.”

 

Each year, vendors rent space on the turnpike from New Hyde Park Road, continuing west to Covert Avenue. Last year, a few extra blocks were added near Lakeville Road.

 

Former trustee Florence Lisanti was one of the first organizers of the street fair, who trustee Donald Barbieri commended for leading the charge.

 

“[The fair] is a great day for the community,” he stated. “We’re proud to have all our local organizations along the turnpike. The merchants get to showcase what they do. We are very proud of the street fair.”

 

Local merchants, Greater New Hyde Park Chamber of Commerce members, charity and service groups can set up tables on the sidewalk free of charge, Bevers said.

 

“We view the fair as the premiere street fair on Long Island,” Bevers stated. “It goes about a square mile. The community feel to the fair is crucial. It’s a big fair and still retains its local charact

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 Sewanhaka High School will receive a camera on Covert Avenue, which spans the eastern stretch of the property. Tulip Avenue runs in front of the high school and was also considered. Cameras could begin operation in September.


Sports

New York Mets pitcher Zack Wheeler and catcher Travis d’Arnaud brightened the day for some patients at Cohen Children’s Medical Center last week in New Hyde Park, posing for pictures and handing out gifts and autographs. The players hung out with the kids in the afternoon, playing video games and answering questions.

They also found the time to make the rounds, stopping by bedsides to spread some cheer. Mr. Met also joined the tour and was a big hit with the children, who peppered him with questions about everything from his four-fingered hand to the whereabouts of the missing Mrs. Met.

The Sewanhaka Indians football team has a season of change in store.

The Indians have moved up from Conference III to Conference II, due to an increase in enrollment, and are set to face teams that they have never seen before, according to head coach George Kasimatis.

“It is hard to gauge where we will be in this conference,” he said. “There is a lot of uncertainty as where we fit in.”


Calendar

Library Board Meeting

Thursday, Aug. 28

Welcome Reception

Wednesday, Sept. 3

Herricks School 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