Sunday, August 26, 2012

5th Annual Chili Fest

Some photos from today's event in Waterville. I had a hard time picking my favorite chili. There were several that I wanted to vote for, but you can vote for only one.

The official winners, and list of contestants so you can identify your favorite chili-maker, are:

Winner, Chili 1- Fire Fighter Greg Keane
2nd Place, Chili 10, Fire Fighter Brian Ducey
3rd Place, Chili 3, South Congregational Church

Other chili participants:

Chili 2- City Limits Café
Chili 5- Grandma Rosies Place
Chili 6- Marios Pizza
Chili 7- The stadium Sports Bar and Grille
Chili 8- Café Med Catering
Chili 9- Dora Sambuco and Michael Riley
Chili 12- Jimmys of Watertown

The event is put together by the Waterbury Neighborhood Council and the Waterbury Firemen's Historical Society.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Death Row Dogs

I went to the Waterbury pound this afternoon. They were holding special adoption hours in a desperate attempt to get ten dogs adopted. Only six dogs were adopted, which means they'll have to put some to sleep on Monday. They're open by appointment tomorrow (Sunday), so there's still time to save a life.

Their available dogs can be viewed on and on the Waterbury Dog Pound Facebook page.

Unfortunately, the sad truth is that there are more dogs than there are good homes. Even if all of these dogs get adopted in time, there will be more. Too many people get puppies because they're cute, then abandon them when they realize they're too much work, or not cute as adults. Other dogs get abandoned simply because their owners are irresponsible.

Dogs are supposed to be licensed, but there's no real enforcement. One idea is to do a big sweep in every municipality, going door to door, checking to see how many dogs there really are, and issuing fines for every unlicensed dog.

Entrance to the Waterbury pound on Municipal Road, off South Leonard.

Another idea is to get pet stores to stop selling dogs from puppy mills, and instead offer adoptions of dogs that need rescuing. Puppy mills, for those who don't know, are large-scale breeding operations, where making money is more important than properly caring for the puppies. There is legislation on the federal and state level to regulate breeding kennels, but until the culture changes, there will still be too many dogs.

In Waterbury, the pet stores that used to be at the mall sold puppies, whereas Pet Smart, next to Home Depot, does adoptions through the Rose Hope shelter. These are two completely different types of operations.

By the way, all those cute little puppies and kittens at the pet store? If they don't get sold, they get euthanized. State law requires this be done by a licensed veterinarian, so at least it's done humanely. But it's still done.

Kennels at the Waterbury pound.

Spaying and neutering is another big challenge. Too many people wait too long to get their dogs spayed/neutered, thinking it's all good, they'll make some money selling the puppies. Finding good homes for puppies isn't easy. If the owner of the mama dog doesn't have her registered or vaccinated (which is often the case), the odds are those puppies won't have very good lives.

While spaying and neutering can be expensive, places like the H.O.P.E. Spay/Neuter Clinic in Waterbury, offer low-cost options. If you still have trouble affording the surgery, you do not have enough money to own a dog.

Adopting dogs from shelters is tremendously rewarding. These dogs are at the end of their lives. They've been through rough times, many of them have been abused, many others neglected. They are starved for affection, and they are so appreciative of anyone who is kind to them.

If the Waterbury shelter doesn't have the dog you want, there are other shelters to try. Use petfinder to search the shelters. Try PAWS New England for dogs that have been rescued from death row but still need homes.

The Waterbury pound takes in 50 to 60 dogs per month. The summer is the busiest season, when they take in the most. There are only 40 kennels at the pound (we have former Mayor and convicted child molester Phil Giordano to thank for that; he authorized hiring Worth Construction to build it for a million dollars; I wonder how much of that he pocketed?).

If you can't adopt, but still want to help, there are a couple of things you can do. First of all, share this information on Facebook, and tell all of your friends to adopt from shelters.

You can help the shelter through donations. Financial donations are accepted--call the police department at (203) 574-6961 to find out how, or make a donation online through PayPal.

The pound is also looking for donations of Kuranda dog beds. You can buy one for them online.

I once overhead someone offer my neighbor $8,000 to fight his adult pit bull. My neighbor, fortunately, declined. There's a lot of money in dog fighting, but every pit bull I've ever known has been a sweetheart, wanting nothing more than to be loved and petted and cared for.

If you have a problem with aggressive dogs in your neighborhood, the problem is really with the owners, who have trained them to be aggressive. If you think a neighbor is fighting their dogs, you should report it.

For whatever reason, the trend right now is to own a pit bull if you want people to think you're tough. This leads to ignorant young men adopting or buying dogs for looks. The dogs end up suffering. They've ended up with a bad rep, making it even harder to find good homes for them.

I have a special affection for this girl. She was wandering around my neighborhood this week with a six foot long chain dragging behind her, attached to her collar. If she was good with cats, I would have kept her. She is a total sweetheart. Very well behaved, quiet, affectionate. She thinks she's a lap dog. Somebody, please, give her a good home!

One of the lucky dogs that got adopted today.

The pound is full of good dogs looking for good homes. Please do what you can to help.

Sunday, August 05, 2012

Challenge Deadline

Do you have a great idea for making the city better?  Share your idea with the City of Waterbury by 5 p.m. on Tuesday, August 7, and you might win a cash prize (not to mention that you might get to see your idea put into action!).

The entry form is online, on the City website (click here for the link).

Guidelines are as follows:

What’s the Challenge?
To identify a creative and bold idea that will solve a key problem in the City of Waterbury and other cities throughout the nation. The winning idea will represent the City of Waterbury in the Bloomberg Philanthropies Mayors Challenge, where five cities across the country will win $1-5 million to bring their innovative ideas and visions to life.

Who May Enter?
Anyone, including City employees, non-residents, people of all ages etc.  It’s all about the idea!

What a Great Idea Looks Like
A great idea is one that demonstrates innovative thinking, can be implemented and will have a measureable impact on Waterbury and other cities.  It can be a new idea or an idea that you change and make more impactful.  We are looking for ideas that:

  • Address serious social or economic problems
  • Improve customer service for residents or businesses
  • Enhance accountability to or engagement with the public; and/or
  • Create efficiencies that make government work better, faster and cheaper
Winning ideas are likely to address a few of these areas. The idea should rely on resources and expertise that are commonly available in cities, so that other cities can share the idea. The idea may involve the use of talent, partnerships and resources outside of city government. If Waterbury wins the Mayor’s Challenge, funds would be used to implement our idea.

Local Prize
First Prize: $500            Second Prize: $250            Third Prize: $100

Contest Deadline
August 7, 2012 at 5:00 p.m.

Great Examples in Mayors Challenge
See and click on “great examples.” Some examples of great ideas include using the 311 number for city residents to access all city services (Chicago idea now adopted by 70 cities); allowing groups of city employees to bid on city projects, save money and share in cost savings (Tulsa idea); re-imagining /re-purposing public space so that all city residents live within 10 minutes of a park (New York).