Kids and Critters shouldn’t be so vulnerable, but they are.

I have written about the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting in this space before – here and here.

What happened to that town is not exactly in keeping with the purposes of this blog, but it is related. Addressing violence that happens to children IS an important component of this site’s mission, even if it is not directly linked to animal abuse.

Sandy Hook Memorials photo by R. Olson
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson—

There was, however, an interesting link between animals and kids for me with the Sandy Hook story.

I suspect all Americans have grown a bit cynical and desensitized to hearing about gun violence in schools anymore. We have heard about it so much, it doesn’t make us jump as much anymore. So when my iPhone alerted me with an AP breaking news alert early THAT morning, I turned over in bed and went back to sleep.

When I awakened later, and checked my Facebook, again on my iPhone, a status update from a friend brought me to reality.

A shooting at our local elementary school??? THIS IS NOT RIGHT!!! OMG!!!!!

This was not happening in just any town. It was happening in a friend’s town.

I have read a lot about school shootings, but I never have known someone directly affected by one. Seeing my friend’s raw emotion spilling out on Facebook really shook me.

Kitties for Kids Robin Olson
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson—

My Friend was Robin Olsen who writes the Covered in Cat Hair blog and runs a cat rescue called Kitten Associates. We have met in person at Blog Paws, but mostly we know each other through social media.

Robin lives in Sandy Hook, CT. Her home is down the street from the shooter, Adam Lanza’s home.

It is so close, in fact, members of the press were camped out near her yard.

Initially, no one knew how bad the incident was. When we realized that 20 small children and 6 adults had been murdered at the school, and that the shooter and his mother had also perished, it suddenly became one of those defining moments for everyone, where you remember every detail of your life on that day – at that moment. Kind of like 9/11.

For me, the detail I will remember the most was Robin’s anguish and pain, not just that children had died, but that her community had been irreparably assaulted and changed in an instant. The next day, she posted these words on Facebook:

I’m still in shock. Just want to sit here and cry. I need my community to be ok again. When I see images from all over the US mourning our loss it means it really happened, but it can’t have happened. It just can’t.

Robin does not have children at the school. But it was her town, riveted into international headlines by a tragic event that was beyond comprehension for any of us, especially for someone so close to the whole thing. I felt it much more deeply myself, just knowing someone there. This was not a town defined by the tragedy like Columbine or Aurora were to me. This was Robin’s bucolic little New England town where she rescued kitties. And now, that bucolic town was in SOOOO much pain.

Being the person she is, it did not take Robin long to jump into rescue mode. You see, Robin has cats, and kittens. LOTS of them. Her life is dedicated to rescuing hurt cats and kittens. And those cats and kittens are pretty good at reciprocating by bringing joy and humor and hope to the most dire of circumstances.

Kitties for Kids Newtown, CTIn a few hours, Kitties for Kids was born – to help kids, first responders, and anyone else in the Newtown/Sandy Hook area “find their smile again” by playing with cheerful kitties.

Kitties for Kids donated plush stuffed cats
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson—

People from all over the country donated plush stuffed cats so that each person who visited received a huggable gift. My contribution was to provide Robin with some resources about dealing with children affected by trauma, in case she encountered some who were overwhelmed with pain.

So far, a number of children and other people affected by the Sandy Hook shooting have visited Robin’ kitties. There have been a number of recovered smiles. And the kitties are having a ball playing with their new friends!

Kitties for Kids
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson—

There is no way to fix what happened to Sandy Hook. But there is nothing better than kittens to help people start the healing process when they are so suddenly pulled into a whirlwind of grief and trauma.

Okey’s Promise was created to bring awareness to the links between violence to animals and violence towards women and children. But I think that there is a place for linking children and animals through healing too. And there is a place for remembering that, no matter what kind of horrendous things some people may do, there are many, many more people like Robin doing wonderful and good things to make our world a better place.

Thank you Robin, for reminding me of that.

God bless the town of Sandy Hook and all it’s good and wonderful people. May your hearts heal and may you return to some semblance of normalcy someday.

And may your kitties and kids have a great time playing and smiling and enjoying childhood and kittenhood again in your bucolic little town. Because that’s the way it should be, and can be again.




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