February 9, 2010
Sue Skaskiw: She Does It All
Most animal welfare advocates focus their energies on single issues – pit bull rescue, puppy mills, wildlife rehabilitation, for example.
Amazing Animal Advocate
Then there's Sue Skaskiw who runs an all-volunteer humane society from her Bridgewater, Vt., home that covers the entire state and offers a variety of programs and services.
"She's amazing and she does everything," says HSUS state director Joanne Bourbeau who has worked in partnership with Skaskiw for more than a decade.
"Sue has really helped us extend our reach and gain even more support for animals in need."
Her Vermont Volunteer Services for Animals programs include: cruelty investigation, crisis intervention and abuse prevention; humane trap and release and wildlife assistance; cat foster home and feral cat rehabilitation; animal adoption; and the state's first spay-neuter assistance program.
Humane education and outreach includes a lecture series in elementary schools, after-school programs and visits to senior citizen centers to discuss animal-related topics and provide assistance to help seniors feed and care for their pets.
Skaskiw also produces and appears on For The Animals, a weekly interview show broadcast on Vermont public access television channels. Bourbeau was a recent guest talking about The HSUS undercover investigation of a Vermont veal slaughter plant in October 2009 revealing cruelty so shocking that the plant was closed by state and federal authorities.
Lobbying for Laws
One of Skaskiw's biggest passions is public policy advancement for animals and, says Bourbeau, she spends every spare moment at the state house during the January through May legislative sessions advocating for new protections.
Her tireless efforts have helped pass many laws: Dissection choice for students; statewide spay/neuter program; widespread improvements to the animal cruelty statute; extension of the rabies vaccination schedule; prohibition of online Internet hunting; and inclusion of animals during natural disaster evacuations.
In the current 2010 session, Bourbeau and Skaskiw are tag-teaming several bills including requiring social service professionals to report suspected animal cruelty and banning live animals being awarded as prizes at carnivals and fairs.