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Year In Review: The Love Of Animals Brings A Compassionate Community Together In 2017

Published: December 29, 2017

Whether it was individual’s testimonies or a dedicated group joining together to create positive change, 2017 saw countless residents working together to ensure local animals were taken care of and loved.

For those with sight, it might seem like an impossible feat to navigate through life without vision; but imagine if that life was walked through on four paws.

Three Newtown residents provided their personal stories of caring for blind pets and gave advice for others on how to provide the best quality of life for special needs animals.

The Newtown Bee’s Business Manager Sherri Smith Baggett spoke about her experience helping her dog Rosé transition from having sight all her life to having to have her eyes removed. Despite Rosé’s resilient spirit overcoming many difficulties, after the story ran in April, Rosé succumbed to cancer on the evening of June 4, at the age of 12.

Also sharing about life with a seeing-impaired animal was Michele McLeod, whose quick-witted tuxedo cat Ray Charles confidently challenges the stereotypes of what constitutes a special needs animal; and The Animal Center’s Foster and Adoption Program Manager Laura McHugh, whose newly adopted kitten Paddington was diagnosed at a young age as blind, deaf, and with a heart condition.

This, however, was not The Animal Center’s only case of helping a special needs cat this year.

Cold, scared, and alone in the dark, a black and white kitten sat next to a dirty dumpster at a condo complex in Danbury unaware why she was left there. Her face was wet from a thick goop secreting from her eyes and nose and each breath came out a strained wheeze.

Fortunately for the kitten, her life changed for the better when a Good Samaritan named Michael Davis rescued and brought her to The Cat Clinic in Danbury, which works closely with The Animal Center.

The organization did not hesitate to step in and help get the kitten get medical attention for her eye infection that had developed and caused her to lose her eyes.

Despite the odds, the kitten persevered. She was given the fitting name Lucky and became fostered by Newtown resident Angela Thill. Later on, The Animal Center revealed that Lucky found her permanent home in plain sight — with foster mom Ms Thill, who could not be happier to be Lucky’s forever home.

The happy-ending story of Lucky was one of thousands that The Animal Center had helped achieve in its 13 years of service to Newtown and the surrounding areas.

In early December, The Animal Center’s Founder and President Monica Roberto announced that the organization would be coming to a close at the end of this year.

Consisting solely of volunteers, the group was able to make positive impact in the lives of so many animals and humans through its foster and adoption work, spay/neuter programs, emergency services, food drives, and educational outreach.

Ms Roberto thanked the community for their support, compassion, and kindness in helping The Animal Center accomplish so much throughout the years.

She recommended that those looking for cat- and dog-related assistance in Newtown in the future, contact the town’s Brian J. Silverlieb Animal Control Center.

In 2017, the Animal Control Center received a heartfelt donation of scrapbooks from longtime partners Canine Advocates of Newtown, which has been chronicling its work helping homeless animals for nearly two decades.

Canine Advocates Founder Virginia Jess and the group’s historian Judith Caracciolo, who created nearly all of the customized scrapbooks, visited the shelter in August to present the last of the books. Every scrapbook, and every page, will serve as a reminder of the impact Canine Advocates and the animal shelter has made on the lives of animals in Newtown.

Also, working toward creating a lasting legacy of compassion for animals is the Catherine Violet Hubbard (CVH) Foundation, which was formed in memory of young Catherine Hubbard who was killed on 12/14.

The CVH Foundation continued its animal- and nature-related initiatives in 2017, including hosting monthly Sunday at the Sanctuary events for the public to enjoy and volunteer days to work on the sanctuary grounds. The latter saw many local and national organizations coming out to help support the sanctuary, whether it was clearing invasive plants or putting up paddock fencing.

The national shelter renovation group Rescue Rebuild, which stems from the nonprofit organization based out of Seattle, returned to the Catherine Violet Hubbard Animal Sanctuary to volunteer its services on the property from May 10 to 18. The group had previously visited the 34-acre property last year to focus on cleaning up and renovating the red barn on site.

During this visit, the team members of Rescue Rebuild were joined by many local individuals, as well as volunteers from Mint Advertising, SmithSolves LLC, Alexion Pharmaceuticals’ security team, and a group of students from Bethel High School.

The Newtown community also saw a large backing of support this year for a local family who lost their puppy, Ozzy, on a morning walk, near the CVH Animal Sanctuary property.

Thankfully, Trish and Justin Wootton were reunited with their puppy after 24 hours of intensive searching that brought out members of Pawtown, the Animal Control Center, Newtown police and firefighters, Companion Pet Rescue, the Pootatuck Club, and countless kind-hearted individuals, all of whom lent their time, energy, and resources to looking for the puppy.

Dogs are not the only domesticated animal to yearn for a taste of freedom, which is why this year saw a rise in interest for outdoor cat enclosures.

These protected areas allow cats to safely walk on the wild side enjoying fresh air and green grass, while also being protected from the plethora of life-threatening circumstances they could face when stepping outside their homes.

Local shelters like the town’s Brian J. Silverlieb Animal Control Center and Bethel’s Danbury Animal Welfare Society have seen the benefits of these enclosures and created them in addition to their main facilities.

With so many people coming together in 2017 to help improve the quality of life for animals, Newtown proved once more to be a place of compassion for its four-legged companions.

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