Sandy Hook victim’s dream to come true
HARTFORD, Conn. — Before she was killed in the Newtown school massacre, 6-year-old Catherine Violet Hubbard raised money from returnable bottles and cans to buy bones for dogs at the pound and designed business cards for an imaginary animal shelter, listing herself as “caretaker.”
Her pretend animal shelter is on track to become a reality as the state prepares to transfer 34 acres of a former psychiatric facility to a foundation raising money to build an animal sanctuary to honor the life of the little girl who was one of 20 first-graders killed in the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting.
“It was just in her soul,” said Jenny Hubbard, describing her late daughter’s love of animals. “She didn’t care if it was fuzzy or slimy.”
Plans for the sanctuary in her name include a shelter and adoption center for cats and dogs, a refuge for farm and work animals, and a rescue and release program for injured native wildlife. Plans include a state-of-the-art veterinary clinic and a welcome center where educational programs will be held. The goal is to open the main building in Newtown in 2016.
Gov. Dannel P. Malloy recently signed legislation instructing the Department of Agriculture to convey the state land to the private Catherine Violet Hubbard Foundation set up by her parents. Several steps remain before Attorney General George Jepsen can sign off on the final transfer.
For Jenny Hubbard and her husband, Matt, who each have business backgrounds and wrote the sanctuary’s business plan, the project has been a healing and humbling experience. They’ve been amazed by the outpouring of support. To date, $800,000 has been donated, even though formal fundraising efforts have not begun. Various professionals, from veterinarians to Newtown architectural firm PH Architects, have donated their services.
“We remind ourselves every day there are kids murdered across the country and not everybody has the opportunity to do this for their child’s life,” Jenny Hubbard said.