If you live in Westport, at some point you’ve probably wondered:
What’s up with all these coyotes?
What do I do about an injured bird/raccoon/deer?
Is there anything I can do about my neighbor’s damn dog?
The answers come next Tuesday (March 5, 7 p.m.) from a somewhat unlikely source: the cops.
On second thought, it’s not so unusual. Westport’s Police Department has a robust Animal Control division. They’ll host that Animal Control Awareness Night, in the 2nd floor classroom at police headquarters on Jesup Road.
Do you know what to do when you see a coyote?
The goal is to educate the public about the Animal Control Division. Among the topics: animal control laws and town ordinances, disaster preparedness for pets, living with coyotes, protection from rabies, and what to do if you find injured wildlife.
Presenters include Dr. Sheldon Yessenow, state Animal Response Team regional director and a veterinary responder to Hurricane Katrina, and Peter Reid, associate director of Wildlife in Crisis.
The event is free and open to the public. Refreshments will be served. Sorry — no dog treats.
Julie Loparo — president of Westport Animal Shelter Advocates — loves dogs.
She loves dog stories too. Here’s one she shares with “06880” readers:
Winslow Park may not be the place where everybody knows your name.
But they do know your dog’s name.
Regulars at the downtown park are quick to share stories about their own dogs, and answer questions about yours.
When a dog gets distracted by a squirrel or another canine buddy, the group watches closely until it’s reunited with its owner.
Just another day at Winslow Park.
Several weeks ago however, the crowd discovered a little one that’s a poster dog for the ever-growing number of abandoned dogs (and cats) in Connecticut.
A senior, blind long-haired chihuahua was found in a beat-up dog carrier on a park bench. How she got there, and how long she’d been there, were mysteries.
But clearly, she’d been left there.
Westport Animal Control quickly responded. She was transported to Schulhof Animal Hospital for evaluation and care.
Once stabilized and treated for a possible flea situation, she was brought back to Animal Control.
It became clear she was not keen on the food being served (though it’s very high quality dog food). A Westport Animal Shelter Advocates volunteer prepared healthy meals of organic meats and vegetables. The little one liked that.
On Wednesday, WASA officially adopted “Misty Mae” into their foster family.
With the help of Schulhof’s staff, WASA will bring her up-to-date on vet care, with vaccinations, and detailed blood and dental work. They’ll consult with eye specialists, to see if she’s a candidate for cataract surgeries.
They’ll also search for a new, loving home for Misty Mae.
She’s sweet, quiet, and 10 to 12 years old. She has not been reactive to other dogs, though additional testing will be done. She loves to be brushed and cuddled. She’s a lap dog in every sense of the word.
For additional information about Misty Mae, call 203-557-0361, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
To donate for her vet care, click here (and note that you are contributing for Misty Mae).
Winslow Park is definitely the place where everyone knows your dog’s name.
And Westport is where Animal Control, WASA and Schulhof all come together to help a dog named Misty Mae.
Alert, angry and saddened “06880” reader Peter Mackey writes:
The other day we said goodbye to our dear friend Murphy. We rescued our snaggle-toothed mixed breed dog a dozen years ago. He was a childhood companion to our kids, and the inseparable buddy of our other dog, Leilah.
Murphy did not die of old age. He died from a vicious, brutal attack by coyotes in our front yard, on Charcoal Hill Road.
It was a quiet Saturday evening. As usual, I let our dogs out at dusk, to do their final duties. But I’ll never forget that night.
Murphy had 27 puncture wounds, his muscles ripped from his spinal cord, and internal damage he would never recover from. I apologize for the graphic description, but it’s important we all are aware of how deadly these animals are.
As harrowing as that evening and the next day were, it’s the experience we had afterward that prompts this note. In the process of dealing with this, I’ve discovered that Westport is the only town in Connecticut that has an ordinance against trapping or killing wild animals on private property. Even predators as cruel and ferocious as coyotes.
Officer Gina Gambino of Westport Animal Control told us that Westport Code of Ordinance 10-1 and 10-2 forbid trapping or hunting coyotes in this town. She said there is nothing that she or her department can do to protect our neighborhood from predators.
“I don’t make the laws. I just enforce them,” was the general response.
Coyotes are now at the top of the Westport food chain. Because surrounding towns allow trapping, they’re proliferating here.
All pets, and even small children are at risk. Murphy was a medium-sized dog weighing 40 pounds. The Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection warns owners of pets under 25 pounds to be aware of coyotes. That’s an outdated standard.
As our climate warms, coyotes who would normally be in their dens are roaming our yards, looking for food wherever they can find it. With their proliferation comes increased adaptation to human environments. The longer they’re here, the more comfortable they become.
The Mackey family (minus Peter) and their dogs.
I hope this letter increases awareness of this clear and present danger; opens dialogue between residents and the RTM about this ordinance, and encourages Westport Animal Control to take some responsibility for helping citizens deal with this issue, ordinance or no ordinance.
If you recently sighted a coyote on your property, report it to the police. Get your RTM members involved.
I can’t imagine I live in the only Connecticut town that places the safety of its predator population above its citizens and their pets.
Last night the coyotes were back in our yard, howling 10 feet outside our bedroom window. Fortunately, Leilah was inside.
Westport Animal Shelter Advocates is soliciting donations for the cat’s medical examination and care. President Julie Loparo writes:
WASA thanks the Westport Police Department, particularly Chief Foti Koskinas; Animal Control officer Gina Gambino; Dorrie Harris, co-founder of TAILS; the staff of the Senior Center, particularly Tom Saviano, and the staff of Schulhof Animal Hospital for working together to humanely “trap” and provide care for Tina Wessel’s cat.
The cat is calmly waiting in his/her crate for an exam. It is wonderful to live in a town with the compassion to want to do right by one of its long-term residents. This joint effort ensures that Ms. Wessel’s cat won’t be left to fend for itself.
WASA, with the kind assistance of the Schulhof staff, will oversee the cat’s care. When the time comes, it will secure a home for Ms. Wessel’s friend and furry family member.
If you would like to assist WASA with this effort, please visit www.westportwasa.org and click “Donate.” Please note on the form that you are donating in memory of “Tina’s cat.” WASA is a 501c3 organization.
Many Westporters want to do something to honor Tina’s memory. This is one way to help.
Tina’s cat. (Photo courtesy of Westport Police Department)
They — and many other male dogs, along with their owners, masters, mistresses and assorted kids — romped across Westport’s 32-acre dog park. The draw was the Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce-sponsored, 1st-ever Dog Festival.
Over 50 vendors hawked non-electric dog fences, gourmet pet food and holistic veterinary care. The Animal Control folks offered tips on hot weather.
Selectmen Jim Marpe, Avi Kaner and Helen Garten, plus state legislators Jonathan Steinberg and Gail Lavielle, judged tail-wagging, best trick and dog-and-owner-lookalike contests.
The very competitive tail-wagging contest.
The sun shined. Animals and their owners made new friends.
As we bid adieu to 2010, many Westporters say: “Good riddance.”
This has not been the most bang-up year — not financial, political, even meteorological.
We eagerly welcome 2011. But before heading out to celebrate — either at non-alcoholic First Night or a very alcoholic party elsewhere — we’ve got a chance to make one last civic contribution (and take a final tax deduction to boot).
At the same time, we can honor the memory of 2 Westporters whose deaths in recent days have shaken this town.
Sharon Broecking — the woman killed by a car crossing the Post Road near Stop & Shop — was “an innocent, loving soul” known for her love of animals (and daily dog-walking).
Sharon’s sister said that despite limited financial resources, “she would take her last $5 and donate it to the Humane Society.”
Another worthy organization — and a no-kill shelter — is Westport Animal Control. To donate to this town-owned division of the Police Department, click here.
A few days after Sharon’s tragedy, Cindy D’Aiuto froze to death not far from her Canal Park apartment. She wasn’t homeless — but other Westporters are.
All year long — especially when brutal weather strikes — Homes With Hopes’ Gillespie Center, Hoskins’ Place and Bacharach Community offer safe havens to men, women and children in need.
In 2011, this great group plans to expand the important work they’ve done for 26 years. They too need our help — click here.
These are not the only organizations worthy of our year-end, tax-deductible dollars, of course. Our town is filled with countless others — just hit the “comment” button to add yours.
But as we say goodbye to this tough year — and mourn the loss of 2 low-key, well-liked women — “06880” takes this opportunity to answer the question Westporters have asked many times in the wake of their deaths: “How can I help?”
Westport is no stranger to dog doings. It took years to decide that, during certain months of the year, Fido could run off-leash on certain areas of the beach.
Many Westporters today call Winslow Park “the world’s most expensive dog run.”
A new canine controversy may dog us this weekend.
First, some background.
A little over 2 years ago, several residents formed Westport Animal Shelter Advocates. Their mission was to raise awareness of Westport Animal Control — a no-kill shelter that cares for lost and abandoned dogs — and rally support for a renovation project.
The group also hoped to stop a proposed joint venture between the Connecticut Humane Society — a kill shelter — and Westport Animal Control.
Westport Animal Control Advocates make sure no dogs are killed. (Courtesy Pamela Einarsen Photography)
WASA went on to fund construction of outdoor runs at Westport Animal Control, and purchased a washer/dryer for the facility. They’re in the process of installing an alarm system, and spaying, neutering and vaccinating animal control dogs.
WASA volunteers handle press releases for the dogs, and provide supplemental walks and socialization.
The 2nd annual event is set for this Saturday (Oct. 23, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.), at the grassy area next to the Compo Beach basketball courts.
Dogs will compete in categories like Top Kisser, Top Tail Wagger and Top Face Only a Mother Could Love. A silent auction features sports tickets and memorabilia, jewelry, cookware and more. Joey’s provides lunch.
Not much to bitch about, right?
On the very same day, the Connecticut Humane Society is holding an event (12-3 p.m.), at their Post Road facility. They’re advertising pet adoptions, pet portraits, a doggie costume contest, and a pet/owner lookalike contest.
The WASA people aren’t pointing fingers — but they sure aren’t wagging their tails in delight. They hope the fact that 2 organizations run similar events on the same day is just a coincidence — but no one is sure.
There is plenty of confusion in town. Many residents believe the Humane Society is actually Westport Animal Control. In fact, Westport Animal Control — a division of the Police Department — is town-owned and run. It’s located on Elaine Road, off Bridge Street near the boat ramp.
WASA’s Top Dog contest is being held at Compo Beach. That’s a lot easier to get to than the no-kill Westport Animal Control. But it’s still not as visible as the Connecticut Humane Society’s building on the Post Road — just up the hill from CVS.
If you want to go to the Humane Society shindig on Saturday, go.
If you want to go to WASA’s Top Dog contest, go there instead.
But don’t confuse the 2. Even if the Humane Society maybe — just maybe — hopes you do.
(For more information on the WASA Top Dog contest, click here. For more information on the Connecticut Humane Society event, click here.)
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