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 now 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 also include a state-of-the-art veterinarian 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 both 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 yet begun. Various professionals, from veterinarians to a Newtown architectural firm PH Architects, have donated their services.