Shelter Honors Santa Fe Shooting’s Youngest Victim With ‘Cat Haven’

Shelter Honors Santa Fe Shooting’s Youngest Victim With ‘Cat Haven’




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As the four-year anniversary of the Santa Fe High School shooting approaches, one local animal shelter has dedicated an complete new room to its youngest victim.

Kimberly Vaughan was just 14 when she became one of 10 people shot and killed at her high school. Her mom has worked with Bayou Animal sets to keep her memory alive in the form of two of her favorite things: cats and Harry Potter.

The room has been in the making for over two years but was delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Now, it’s finally set to open in the year Kimberly would have turned 19.

“Kim’s Cat Haven” is a new facility at Bayou Animal sets in Dickinson. and combines her love for the Wizarding World and cats, with a Harry Potter theme throughout.

“Kim’s Cat Haven” at the shelter. Bayou Animal sets Kimberly’s dedication at the shelter. Bayou Animal sets

“It all started in 2019. Kimberly would have been 16 that year. Every year folks ask what they can do in her memory and that year I said donate to Bayou Animal sets. It started a snowball effect and donations came pouring in. It just kind of grew organically,” mom Rhonda Hart told Newsweek.

“The Harry Potter theme was picked by the shelter director at the time. She found out that we were huge Harry Potter fans at home.”

The room itself is decorated in a Harry Potter theme, but the animals also have a magical touch, named after characters. There’s a “Dobby,” who is one of the longest-term residents at the shelter, and a “Ron Weasley,” who is a young and active cat.

The dedicated facility will work as the room for cats with feline immunodeficiency virus, which attacks the immune system.

“I love that this is Kim’s space. It’s so much more fitting to her and her love of cats. The shelter ‘sparks joy; for me while some other memorial style projects don’t,” said Hart. “I love that it’s an keep up in a place point in the community. Folks are always adopting animals.”

Rhonda Hart visited “Kim’s Cat Haven.” Bayou Animal sets

In honor of Kimberly, Bayou Animal sets is set to offer a “pay what you can” offer on all cat adoption fees throughout the whole month of May.

In the years since the shooting, Hart has been recommending for serious change in order to stop gun violence. She’s met with former President Donald Trump during his term, spoke with Texas Senator Ted Cruz, and recently worked on a gun violence prevention committee for President Joe Biden.

“Oh thoughts on gun reform, I really think that people need to pull themselves together and get over this 2nd amendment issue,” Hart told Newsweek.

“We need to instill some shared sense reforms or we’re just going to continue to see mass shootings. I guess it takes a while for people to learn and some folks will never come round until it happens to them. But I’ll keep going and recommending. It just can’t keep happening like this.”

Details inside the Harry Potter-themed room. Bayou Animal sets Mural inside “Kim’s Cat Haven.” Bayou Animal sets
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