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New Scotland Archives The Altamont Enterprise, April 26, 2007
Animal control takes dogged effort
By Rachel Dutil
NEW SCOTLAND Dogs provide companionship, security, and, at the end of the day, you can count on your dog being happy to see you.
Like children, dogs have minds of their own, and sometimes, they do things you wish they wouldnt like run away.
"Anyone can lose a dog," said Eileen Mulderry, an animal lover who recently ended a seven month stint as an animal-control officer in New Scotland. She left with some complaints about her supervisor, Highway Superintendent Darrell Duncan, and nothing but praise for her co-worker, Kevin Schenmeyer.
Since Mulderry left in early April, Schenmeyer, a highway department worker, who has been doing the job for about seven years, has been aided by Duncan, while the town searches for a replacement.
The animal-control program in New Scotland is run out of the towns highway department, and is overseen by Duncan.
Duncan said the program is the same as it has always been. He steps in when someone is on vacation, or the program is understaffed, which has been a recurring problem over the years.
The Enterprise reported in August of 2005 that the town was trying to decide how to proceed with the program after two of the three animal-control officers quit. Schenmeyer was the sole officer at the time, and made an annual salary of $5,767 for the job.
The program is "very important," Duncan said. "As more animals are introduced," into the town, he said, it is essential to be able to maintain control of the animals and "help keep people safe" We try to do the best we can."
"I think we have a good program," Supervisor Ed Clark told The Enterprise this week. "The problem is keeping it staffed" It starts as an attractive source of revenue, and becomes a headache." He said he thinks that people get tired of being constantly on call.
"The program is his responsibility, and he wants it to succeed, so he’s filling in," Clark said of Duncan. "I’m completely satisfied that he’s doing a responsible job," he added.
The town is currently seeking applicants for two highway positions, and Clark said that he hopes one of the individuals hired for either of those positions might be interested in animal control. But, if not, "We’ll just have to look elsewhere."
On call 24/7
Schenmeyer said that the position is part-time; he doesn’t "put in an eight-hour day per se." He is on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week, wears a pager, and must answer his pages within minutes. "We work with animals and the owners," he said.
In the seven months that Mulderry was an animal-control officer, she handled an average of two or three loose dogs per month, she said.
Schenmeyer has worked for the highway department for nearly 20 years, he said. His job makes being an animal-control officer easier because he knows the roads really well, he said.
He likes the job "for the most part," he said, but , "it’s a little tough sometimes."
Mulderry echoed those sentiments. "It’s a really hard job in a lot of ways," she told The Enterprise. "It involves everything injured wildlife, loose dogs, a horse running down Font Grove Road" It’s a very necessary job."
When Schenmeyer and Mulderry were sharing the job, each would be on call for a week, and then have a week off.
"We had a great working relationship," Mulderry said of working with Schenmeyer. "Kevin Schenmeyer is the most phenomenal animal-caring person" The best partner anyone could ask to work with," she said.
Spring is a very busy time of year for animal control, Schenmeyer said. It is the "nature of the business," he said. "People get careless" and animals get more curious."
The job of the animal control officer is to enforce town laws as well as the states Agriculture and Markets Law, Schenmeyer said.
According to the state’s Department of Agriculture and Markets, "Every licensing town, city, or village must have a Dog Control Officer and municipal shelter services."
The town of New Scotland has a contract with the Mohawk and Hudson River Humane Society in Menands, Clark told The Enterprise this week.
A dog found to be sick or injured, is taken to a veterinarian, Clark said. "If we know whose dog it is, we would try to get the owner to pay the vet bill," he said. "We pay it if we have to" We don’t like it, but that’s how it goes."
Clark said that, because the town is the party that physically brings the dog to the vet, it cant legally require the owner to pay the bill.
When a loose dog is picked up, Clark said, there are several things that could happen.
The animal control officer first tries to identify the dogs owner and return it to him or her. Otherwise, the animal is either held overnight to see if the owner appears, or it is taken to the shelter in Menands.
If the animal is held overnight, "We would keep it in a confined space at the highway garage," Clark explained.
"If we take them to Menands, they won’t release the dogs unless they’re licensed," Clark said.
When asked how many dogs are in the town, Clark told The Enterprise, "That’s a very good question."
He could provide the number of dogs that are licensed in the town, but, he said, "A lot of people have dogs that aren’t licensed."
"Every dog regardless of age, owned or harbored in New York State for longer than 30 days must be licensed in the town, city, or village where the dog is being harbored," according to New York’s Agriculture and Markets Law.
"Some people don’t even know there is a licensing law," Mulderry said. When a dog is licensed, and it gets loose, she said, " We can look at the tag, run it through the computer and find out whose dog it is."
In order to license a dog, the animal must have proof of a rabies vaccination signed by a licensed veterinarian, and proper certification if it has been spayed or neutered, the law states.
Animals that have been spayed or neutered cost $4.50 for a year-long license; otherwise its $12.50, Schenmeyer said. Dogs can be licensed at Town Hall on Route 85.
"If we don’t have an avenue to return the animal, we use the Menands shelter," Schenmeyer told The Enterprise. "It’s a lot easier to keep them licensed and tagged and at home."
The town sets the amount of days the dogs are held at the Mohawk and Hudson River Humane Society, which is about a 30- to 45-minute drive from New Scotland, Schenmeyer said.
"We usually try to wait 10 days," he said. "It gives people a little extra time" We try to give the animal the benefit of the doubt."
When the 10 days are up, said Schenmeyer, "They do what they see fit. If it’s an animal they don’t foresee adopting out," then the animal may be euthanized.
The town implements fines of up to $100 for unlicensed dogs and loose dogs, Mulderry said.
"We just write the tickets and the judges take it from there," Schenmeyer said. "It’s basically putting all your ducks in a row, and following proper procedures."
The Menands facility is used by many towns in the area, and, this year, "it hit municipalities pretty hard," Schenmeyer said. A contract that is usually around $2,000 or $3,000 jumped up to $9,000 or $10,000, he said. "It caught a lot of people off guard."
The facility has "been overwhelmed over the years, and they’re trying to under-whelm themselves," Schenmeyer hypothesized. They also wanted to turn over licensing and vaccinations duties to the municipalities, he said.
The shelter will not release a dog to its owner unless it is licensed, Schenmeyer said. He said that, as far as he knows, the shelter is still giving vaccinations. He hasn’t had to bring any animals to Menands lately. "We’ve been able to find owners," he said.
Every year, during "budget season," the town discusses animal control and whether the job needs to be made into a full-time position, and if the town needs to have a facility of its own, Duncan told The Enterprise.
"It’d probably be a good thing" It’s a possibility," Schenmeyer said, of New Scotland having its own facility in the future. "Things could be kept closer and more local."
Schenmeyer added that a shelter shared with other towns, could save money.
Mulderry said she would like to see more discussion at town meetings about what should be done with the animal-control program. A full-time animal control officer and a facility in town would provide "protection for people and their animals," she said.
"I’ve been unofficially doing the job for years," Mulderry told The Enterprise. "Really, they just started paying me for what I was already doing."
She said that she won’t stop helping animals because she is no longer getting paid. While she was an animal-control officer, Mulderry said that roughly a third of the situations she logged, "were things I came upon in driving in my daily life" I didn’t need to be on duty to respond.
"I’m sad that I’m not doing the job anymore," she said. "I loved that job."
Mulderry said that she felt "disrespected" by Duncan, and that is why she left. "He was always looking for something I might have done wrong, instead of appreciating all I had done right."
In response to Mulderrys allegation, Duncan told The Enterprise, "That’s her opinion. I didn’t have any problems with her."
Mulderry said that she knows all the dogs she dealt with in the seven months she spent in the job. "I probably picked up 16 dogs since I started" I know every one of them and their names."
Schenmeyer said that he doesn’t do the job for the money, "I do it more for the animals. I wanted to help get the animals back to the proper people."
Schenmeyer is paid a salary for the days he is on call. The pay is the same if he receives two calls, or 20 calls, he said. "That is one reason there’s not a lot of people standing in line for this job," he said.
Mulderry, while working as an animal control officer, became aware of how necessary the position is, she said. "Somebody has to be doing this job" I just want the animals to be cared for," she said.
"It’s not a job for everybody" I enjoy working with the animals; the people are a little more difficult sometimes," Schenmeyer said.
Going out for the history of war
New Scotland exhibit honors veterans, their memorise
By Rachel Dutil
FEURA BUSH Veterans are an important part of American history, and, more than 60 years after the end of World War II, many of them are dying.
John Loucks Jr., a lifelong resident of New Scotland and a veteran of World War II, died on Sunday, April 8, just a day before town historian, Robert Parmenter, tried to contact him to document his war experience.
Loucks joined the United States Army Air Corps in 1941; he automatically became a member of the Air Force when it was created; and then he was a Navy reservist for a short time in the 1960s. He spent 21 years serving his country, on both active duty and as a reservist.
His son told The Enterprise that his father liked to brag that he was in three branches of the military and served in three wars World War II, the Korean War, and Vietnam.
The New Scotland museum will open an exhibit on Sunday that honors New Scotland veterans of World War I and World War II; it is called: From the Home Front to the Front Lines.
The opening will feature re-enactors of both world wars; a presentation by Bob Humes, who has a large World War II memorabilia collection; and, if the weather permits, some vintage war vehicles.
Parmenter, and his wife, Marion, are members not only of the New Scotland Historical Association, but also the museum committee.
"We just thought we’ve got to do this," Mrs. Parmenter said of the exhibit. Though the exhibit focuses on World War I and World War II, it will be dedicated to all veterans, to honor all of them, Mrs. Parmenter said.
Though all the towns World War I veterans have died, Mrs. Parmenter spent countless hours in the library going through letters that ran in The Enterprise from World War I soldiers to their families back home. One of the letters was written by Joe Lambert, of New Salem. The letter is dated Dec. 22, 1918.
Lambert writes from St. Cornelius, France: "Well, the war is over, and when I think of the things I have seen and done and gone through, I have the horrors. I have eaten and slept among the dead, and I have driven in and out to keep from running over them. I have seen all the misery and suffering I care to, but am willing to do it again if need be.
"I have smelled human blood for three weeks at a time. The whole country smelled like a slaughterhouse. Horses and men lay everywhere, but I never saw a tear-stained eye; every man had that grave and stern look."
The opportunity to talk to veterans, and hear their experiences first-hand has been the most incredible part of the exhibit, Mrs. Parmenter said.
The exhibit will highlight the service of local veterans, like Steve Walley. Walley, 83, spoke about some harrowing times during World War II on a bright sunny day at his Feura Bush home, where he has lived with his wife, Norma, for 55 years.
Walley joined the United States Navy on Sept. 22, 1942. He said he wanted to learn a job that he could then use when he came home. He was an aviation radioman.
He attended ship-work radio school for four months, and then volunteered for aviation radio school. Walley then went to aerial gunnery school and flight operations in Jacksonville, Fla.
His squadron met as a group in Seattle following a seven-day leave, Walley recalled. They got to know each other at an auxiliary airfield in Arlington, Washington, he said.
Composite Squadron 4, of which Walley was a part, consisted of 12 torpedo bombers, and 16 fighter aircrafts, which were fighter escorts to protect the bombers, he explained.
Walley served overseas from April, 1944 to November or December of that year, he said.
The pilot that Walley flew with had volunteered to carry Marine and Army officers for observation work, he told The Enterprise.
On Aug. 1, 1944, while on an observation flight, "My pilot was flying low at the Marine captain’s request," Walley said.
The Marine officer they were working with, was on the ground, communicating to the pilot. He remembers the Marine advising the pilot to "make a turn to the right."
The plane was hit by ground fire, he said. "We went down into the water" We had no chance to use a parachute," he said.
The plane hit the water with its right wing and nose, and spun around, he said.
Walley was able to climb out onto the wing, and he tried to get the pilot out. "I reached to try and undo his belt buckle, and the whole thing went out from under him," Walley said.
The replacement pilot saw the plane go down, and radioed for help, Walley said. He was the only survivor.
"That was one harrowing experience," Walley said.
Walley won numerous awards for his military service the Air Medal, the Air Crewmans Wing with three Battle Stars, the Asia Pacific Medal with two Battle Stars, and the Presidential Unit Citation from both the United States and the Philippines.
The award from the Philippines was for a battle where two carriers were lost one by shell fire and one by kamikaze, Walley told June and Kenneth Hunter, who have conducted interviews with veterans around the state for the New York State Military Museum and Veterans Research Center in Saratoga Springs.
The aircraft carrier sunk by the Japanese suicide plane was the USS St. Lo. It was the first ship to be sunk by a kamikaze.
Walley happened to be aboard the ship. He recalled for the Hunters the events of that day.
Walleys carrier, the White Plains, was at general quarters, and, at the time, his pilot wanted to refuel and re-arm the plane. The St. Lo was not at the general quarters G.Q., as Walley referred to it and the ship took them aboard, he said.
Two lieutenants from Walleys carrier, the White Plains, landed the plane on the St. Lo. The pilot got the wave-off, because he was flying in too high, and they had to circle around again, Walley remembered.
"I might have been the last person to board that ship before it was sunk," Walley said. "I was on it about 18 minutes."
In those minutes, Walley recalled his movements. He went up to the radio shack, on the left side of the ship, picked up a new microphone and put it in the turret slot when the microphone went dead, and he tested the battery.
"I went back up on the wing to throw the battery switch off" That’s when all hell broke loose," Walley said.
"That’s when the kamikaze hit; it came through the back elevator, onto the hangar deck and bombs went off" his bomb first, then the stuff they were loading onto planes to go out," Walley recalled with a stoic expression.
The captain told the crew, "Standby to abandon ship," Walley said.
"I’m standing there" wondering which way to go," he remembered. "I didn’t know I had that shrapnel in my leg even. But it was only a small piece of aluminum, so I pulled it out and tied a handkerchief around it.
"Those other fellows were a lot worse than me, and I didn’t even think about it," Walley told The Enterprise of his shrapnel wound.
When Mrs. Hunter asked Walley how he got off the St. Lo, Walley responded bluntly, "I jumped."
Walley explained that he was about 18 or 20 feet above the water when he jumped off the ship, and, when he surfaced after hitting the water, he pulled the two pressurized carbon-dioxide bottles that inflated a life jacket. "I would have broke my neck if I hadn’t," he said.
Walley remembered people who were climbing down ropes off of the St. Lo, and others were trying to get lifeboats into the water, but there werent many of them; mostly, he said, there were cork floater nets. Walley swam to the USS Dennis.
He remained aboard the Dennis overnight, where he was issued a razor and a toothbrush from the Red Cross, he said.
"They were really heroic," Walley told The Enterprise of the crew aboard the St. Lo that fateful day.
More than 100 people died that day, Walley said; their names are engraved on a memorial tomb in San Diego.
Walley told the Hunters that his time in the Navy "really paid off." When he returned to the States, Walley worked as an installer of telephone, radio, and microwave equipment for Western Electric. "My job in the Navy helped my job in the civilian life," he said.
The Walleys will celebrate their 60th wedding anniversary this year. They have six children, many grandchildren, and even great-grandchildren, he proudly told The Enterprise.
Walley says that he and his wife stay young by being active; the couple gave up snowmobiling only a few years ago, at age 80.
"After all these years it’s mellowed out," Walley said of how he has coped with the war. "You wouldn’t want to go through it again."
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