Spa County needs to update job description for animal shelter chief
Going into their latest board meeting, the Saratoga County Board of Supervisors was engaged in a highly questionable, controversial process for hiring a new animal shelter supervisor [March 21 Gazette]. Thankfully the board changed course and, we trust, will rethink and re-post this important position.
The board has the opportunity to undertake a badly needed, new and thorough job review and hiring process. First, it came to light that a vague and inadequate, 30-year-old job description was used despite dramatic changes that have occurred in the fields of animal care and sheltering, as well as public attitudes about companion animals and their stewardship, protection, and humane treatment.
Also, the county animal shelter itself is a newly built, state-of-the-art facility.
The job description failed to list the myriad responsibilities of a shelter director concerning the natural history and behavior of numerous animal species. They include matters of public health; transmission of [infectious] disease; humane handling and restraint of animals, including feral cats and aggressive dogs; emergency treatment; sanitation; euthanasia; law enforcement; and the spay/neutering needs of the 3,000 animals in this shelter’s annual care.
These are basic responsibilities which require an individual with relevant credentials and extensive hands-on experience in a shelter or veterinary medical/animal health-related facility. In the absence of a shelter veterinarian, the supervisor must also train others in the humane performance of all these requirements.
The Board of Supervisors would do well to research and adopt animal shelter job description and eligibility standards which are consistent with those of the Humane Society of the United States — a valuable resource available to the board.
The committee charged with the responsibility of conducting this search and selection process would also do very well to include a representative of the state Humane Association, an organization uniquely knowledgeable and skilled with matters of shelter standards and the prevention of animal cruelty. These two influences would greatly benefit and ease the candidate selection process.
Trusting that the search committee is to be comprised of concerned and qualified board representatives and others, the citizenry, taxpayers and companion animals of Saratoga County were well served [by last week’s decision].
Susan M. Gibson
The writer is a former officer and board member of the Animal Protective Foundation of Schenectady.
Society needs to know facts, and talk about rape
As an advocate for victims of sexual assault, I feel it is imperative to speak up. In light of the recent press on the Steubenville, Ohio, court case and the fact that April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month, it is time to educate our communities and begin a dialogue about a topic that is often disregarded because it is difficult to talk about.
Studies indicate that one in four girls and one in six boys will be sexually assaulted by the age of 18. Teens 16-19 are 3.5 times more likely to be victims of rape than the general population. It is estimated that 70 percent of rapes are committed by someone known to the victim. An estimated 90 percent of acquaintance rapes involve alcohol. One out of every 33 men have been the victim of an attempted or completed rape.
Sexual assault is among the most common causes of PTSD [post-traumatic stress disorder]. There is a 50-95 percent chance that a victim will develop it. The average age at which children are sexually abused is between seven and 13. Despite the stereotype of a stranger in a trenchcoat, 90 percent of the time the child knows his/her abuser. Because of stereotypes and rape myths in our society, it is common to blame the victim for dressing suggestively, having too much to drink, taking a walk alone, inviting someone into his/her bedroom.
However, no matter when, where or how it happened, sexual violence is not the victim’s fault. Bad judgment is never a rape-able offense! Sexual assault is not about “sex” it is about power, control and humiliation. It is abundantly clear that we have so much work to do!
AP article seemed biased against renewable energy
Re your March 8 AP article, “Celebrity ‘fractivist’ facts questionable,” I object to all of the Associated Press’ bulleted rebuttals, but especially the following:
AP references “Gasland” director Josh Fox’s statement that society should be changing over “to renewable energy and doing it vigorously and quickly.” The article then quotes Harvard professor Stephen Ansolabehere, stating that if Fox’s claim about the ease of shifting to wind, solar and hydropower were true, we’d be doing it.
However, Fox didn’t claim it would be an easy shift from fossil fuels to renewables; he [only] said we should be pursuing it vigorously and quickly.
The federal government has provided substantially large subsidies to a mature fossil fuel industry for many years. Between 2002 and 2008, the Environmental Law Institute confirms subsidies to the fossil fuel industry totaling approximately $72 billion, compared to renewable at $29 billion.
President Obama has made it clear that bold cap-and-trade legislation is a priority. If we create the right kind of system, we can not only get off the fossil fuel roller coaster but speed the transition to a clean energy economy that does not risk our health and safety, and finally puts people before the interest of polluters.
Gary J. Lessard
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