Hudson-Litchfield News

April is Prevention of Animal Cruelty Month

by Karen High

Hudson Animal Hospital’s Allen J. Conti, DVM, reports that animal cruelty is “under the radar.”  By this he means that determining the neglect of an animal - its lack of food or water, for example - can be difficult to detect, “unless it’s overt” and you are seeing it firsthand.

Dr. Conti expresses “no doubt that the abuse problem” in recent years “has moved from the rural community” to a dilemma plaguing urban cities.  Much less seen now, he says, is the problem of so-called “neglect abuse,” such as a dog being tied up outdoors and barking for hours at a time.

Animals are “much more part of the family” these days, according to the Hudson veterinarian.  A positive aspect to this is that pets are brought into the hospital for needed surgeries, or treatments for illnesses like diabetes and kidney problems.  There’s “more treating” done now for issues like these.

Abuse, on the other hand, when seen, is of “the more intentional” type, and Dr. Conti believes this appears more frequently in places like neighborhoods around Boston, rather than in rural settings.

He compares such an example with one of non-abuse, such as when a dog gets into a fight with another dog.  When these dogs are seen at the animal hospital, “you can tell that the dog’s injury (from the dogfight) is not a significant type of wound,” he says, unless it happens to be a “pack of dogs” which has inflicted injury upon one dog.

“These are just not the massive amounts of wounds,” Conti says, “likely to be seen in an abuse-type situation.”

Hudson’s Animal Control Officer Jana McMillan’s main concern is that people are afraid to report animal cruelty.  “Because of their fear of retribution,” whether retaliation comes from a neighbor or someone else, she says, “people are afraid to speak up.”

McMillan would like people to understand that “if a person is capable of abusing an animal, then they are capable of abusing and harming people.”  This includes family members, especially children.

Animal abusers are likely to hurt people, McMillan states, “whether they are reporting abuse or not.”

“What I encourage people to do,” she continues, “is to speak up, to protect their own family from abusers.”  Reporting one incident, McMillan asserts, is “not going to be as bad” as choosing not to report it…[because] “then something huge, like school shootings, that sort of thing, happens.”

The animal control officer calls abusers “tortured people” who, if they can torture an animal, “are capable of anything.”  People who are witnessing abuse but not saying anything about it, McMillan believes, are just as guilty as the abuser, because “they are, in a sense, hiding it,” she says.

McMillan acknowledges that the statement sounds harsh but wants to give people “something to think about.”

McMillan’s sentiments are echoed by the Humane Society of Greater Nashua.  Its “American Humane” online link networks to prevent cruelty - whether abuse, neglect, or exploitation (of children as well as animals) - “to assure that their interests and well-being are…guaranteed by an aware and caring society.”

PetAbuse.com, which delineates the two categories of abuse as “active” and “passive,” are also harbingers of speaking up.  “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter” its web-page states.

Lack of action describes the “passive” type of cruelty, things like not providing adequate shelter in extreme weather conditions; starvation; dehydration; even leaving a collar “to grow into an animal’s skin.”  Pet-Abuse.com declares the “active” type cruelty as often being the “most disturbing,” as it implies “malicious intent.”

Dr. Conti agrees.  He recounts a recent court case in which a man allegedly “beat the dog,” but claimed that the animal was hit by a car.  The veterinarian says there was “no way of knowing for sure” exactly what happened.  Conti emphasizes, “That sort of abuse is a problem.”

Dr. Conti, who graduated from the University of Pennsylvania’s Veterinary School in 1977, admits he “had a few jobs” before buying the Hudson Animal Hospital in 1980.  He speaks fondly of having been a veterinarian for Benson’s Animal Park, until it closed in 1988.  Although that employment “didn’t really pay the bills,” Conti describes the experience as having been a lot of fun.

Located for 25 years in the same place, and having expanded into a new building in 1986, the Hudson Animal Hospital currently has 20 employees. Dr. Conti has two other veterinarians working for him, and a lay staff of 17 people assisting the hospital’s “patients,” mostly dogs and cats.

The staff sees a lot of exotic animals, too.  The reason is “partly from being at Benson’s,” Conti says, and also because one veterinarian at the hospital has a “significant interest” in the unusual animals.  The hospital has treated chinchillas, snakes, birds including parrots, as well as the “pocket-pets” like hamsters and gerbils.

Dr. Conti does not treat the “large animals” anymore.  But, “if you can bring it into the parking lot,” he quips, “we’ll take care of it.”

Obviously enjoying his work, Dr. Conti says that doing so is one thing that describes success.  “If you don’t enjoy what you are doing- even if you’re good at it - chances are you won’t be very successful,” he says.

In observation of April as Prevention of Animal Cruelty month, Dr. Conti, who also supports the bi-weekly “Adopt-A-Pet” column in the Hudson-Litchfield News, would like to remind people that “an animal is a living thing.  It needs water, food, and appropriate care.  It is not a ‘fixture or toy.”  Pet owners, he hopes, not only realize, but also readily accept, this responsibility.


Chatting with Some of Hudson’s Newly Elected Officials

by David Forman

As the rain turned to snow and the wind picked up, a record number of registered voters turned out for the March 8 town elections in Hudson.  The record consisted of 2,570 of the 14,910 registered voters.  The first question that begs to be answered is “how sad is it that when 17.24% of the registered voters come to the polls, it is a record turnout?”  One has to wonder if the weather kept the 12,340 registered voters at home this year, then what has kept them home in prior years?  I find it sad that in Iraq, registered voters literally risked their lives, and some gave up their lives just for the opportunity to have their voice heard in their government, yet in Hudson over 82% of the voters did not care to make the trip!  Shown below are the number of voters and percent turnout of registered voters in communities close to Hudson:

Hudson   2,570    17% Milford 2,740    27% Litchfield    2,234    43% Hollis    1,447    28%

In the Selectman race three year term, incumbent Ken Massey beat challenger Ben Nadeau by just 93 votes.  Lars Christiansen did manage 386 votes despite asking voters to ignore his name on the ballot for Selectman.  In the School Board race three year term, there were three candidates with two seats open.  Newcomer Gary Rodgers received the majority of the votes with 1,487.  Incumbent Lars Christiansen won the other seat with 1,258 votes beating fellow incumbent Lynne Ober by just four votes.  After a recount confirmed Christiansen as the winner by two votes, I caught up with all three election winners to ask them the following questions:

What is the number one issue facing your respective Boards in the upcoming year?

What would you like to personally get accomplished during your term?

What would you like to convince the voters of?

First, I spoke with Selectman Massey who saw the biggest issue facing the Selectmen as “very clearly the upgrades to our water utility.  With the passage of the bond article, construction of the water tank and transmission line loop in the south end and the upgrade to the Compass Point pumping station can now be scheduled.  We have enough water, that is not the problem.  All the water is in the north end and we need to have the capacity to pump that water to the south end.”  Massey continued, “We also need to complete the negotiations for a new operating agreement with Pennichuck for the operations and maintenance.  Realistically, I’m hoping to see this completed by spring 2006.”  Selectman Massey would like to personally accomplish during his term the replacement of the communication analog radio system of the Fire Department dispatch with a digital system.  “The voters have given us the green light to covert the entire system to digital.  When this is done we need to look at the location of the Fire Department dispatch area.  Currently dispatch is in a cramped space unlike the Police Department dispatch.  We need to combine dispatch for both Police and Fire.  This would complete the Life Safety Project.  Then I would like the Board of Selectmen to look at all town functions, determine where we want to be in five years and develop a plan to get there, this includes all town functions.”  Finally he wanted to convince the voters that he would work hard for them.

Next, I spoke with newly elected School Board member Gary Rodgers.  He said he was not sure if it was the number one issue, but at his first meeting, “the School Board started working on a review of everything to make sure everything is running properly and smoothly.  We wanted to be sure we are headed in the right direction, and that we have all the facilities fine tuned.”  He would personally “like to get on the Facilities Committee to ensure that all the school’s assets are maintained.  I’d like us to be proactive versus reactive.  We need to fix things before they break down so it doesn’t cost as much to fix.  We have a lot of assets, very large assets.  We need to make sure the children have a good learning environment.”  Rodgers wants the voters to understand that he is fair, and listens to both sides of the issue before making a decision.

Finally after solidifying his spot after the recount, I spoke with School Board member Lars Christiansen.  The number one issue Christiansen saw was “we need to evaluate the special needs program.”  He would personally like to accomplish “getting the kids better prepared for college, and improve programs.”  He would like to convince the voters that “working with the Budget Committee is not a problem as long as they get the information they require and everything is explained to them to make a decision.”  He went on to say “this was evidenced in how the school items on the ballot sailed right through.  That’s important, to give them all the information they need.”


Soup to Nuts Recyling

by Lynne Ober

America is not the only country drowning in technological waste, but it may be leading the way.  Every year thousands of new computers, televisions, printers and other electronic gadgets are purchased by Americans who then have to find a way to get rid of the older equipment.

Recycling is the best answer, but most of us know that this is not easily accomplished.  “There’s a cost to recycling,” said Lucille Krakowski, President of Hudson-based R.S.T. Reclaiming Co., Inc.  “There’s a worse cost to not recycling and we all need to think about that.”

As new laws have banned disposal of televisions and monitors in landfills, people search for an appropriate disposal method.  Recycling makes the most sense.

R.S.T. Reclaiming Co., Inc. (R.S.T.) has been located in Hudson since 1990.  They recently began using a $300,000 recycling machine designed by R.S.T.’s Operation Manager, Ed Harty.  It’s environmentally friendly.  It’s huge and, best of all, it’s very effective.

This state of the art monitor processing system took two and a half years to plan, custom order and build.  “We are very proud of it.  We are one of the few companies recycling cathode ray tubes (CRTs) from computers and televisions in an effectively, environmentally friendly method.  Our machine is a closed system with negative air so that no debris is released into the environment and every scrape can be recycled,” said Krakowski.

“My dad started this business in Billerica.  At that time he only accepted boards and recycled the metal on them.  We’ve grown since then,” Krakowski stated with a smile.

Televisions and computer monitors contain materials that are illegal to place in a landfill.  It’s difficult to find a place that will accept them and recycle them, but R.S.T. is that place.  “We charge $10 per monitor to drop a monitor off and we price televisions according to size,” said Krakowski.  “There is a cost to the consumer, but there’s also a cost to the consumer every time you change the oil in your car.”

R.S.T. occupies 12,000 square feet on River Road in south Hudson.  They recycle materials from towns, businesses, and individuals.  If you own an old monitor or television, you can drop it off between 9:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. Monday through Friday, pay a small fee and be assured that the debris and materials in that piece of equipment will be safely recycled.

“We have our own dumping problem,” said Krakowski.  “People bring things by when we are closed and leave them.  We are installing cameras to monitor our premises because the Police can’t do anything about the dumping without some lead as to who is doing it.”

A monitor begins its new re-cycled life by being taken apart.  The plastic case will be packaged with other discarded cases, sent to a Massachusetts plant that grinds the plastic up, processes it and then sells it to be used in new products.  The wires will be stripped off and recycled for the copper that can be reused.  Finally only the CRT remains.  It will go through this large new machine, the glass will be broken and salvaged, the metal inside the CRT will be salvaged and all parts will go to other plants for re-engineering into new products.

R.S.T. processes materials for use at other plants that actually turn the pieces into new recycled materials.

“The glass process is known as glass-to-glass recycling,” said Harty.  “Our machine separates the broken glass into several sizes and then we package it and ship it to Wisconsin where another plant processes it so that it can be used in making more products.” 

The new machine contains a number of closed air filters that traps debris before it can filter into the air and the debris out of the air.  “As a result of those filters,” said Harty pointing to the numerous filters, “we put no debris into the air.  That’s a key component of what we do differently than other recycling plants, but it’s one of our goals to be environmentally friendly.”

Although R.S.T. accepts any type of material for re-cycling, they do charge the person dropping off the material a small fee.  “We are a very small profit margin company,” said Krakowski.  “Recycling has a cost.”

There are a number of types of materials that Krakowski will accept, such as batteries and fluorescent light bulbs (wrapped), but must pay someone else to recycle.  “In that case I just pass the cost of that onto the person who is dropping off the material.  It’s important that we all recycle and I want to be a conduit that can make that happen for businesses as well as for individuals.”

R.S.T. accepts all computer equipment, electronics components such as diodes, resistors, switches, paper, batteries, fluorescent light bulbs, wire and cable as well as precious and non-ferrous metals.  “Just give us a call and we’ll be happy to talk to you,” Krakowski said.

R.S.T. can be reached at 603-595-8708 or e-mail sales@rstrc.com. 

“It’s time for all of us to think about the environment and recycle as much as we can so that future generations can enjoy the same quality of life,” smiled Krakowski.

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