Petal family’s adoption essay wins $1K for Southern Pines

By HASKEL BURNS,

A recently-adopted kitten has brought love and companionship to a Petal family and $1,000 to Southern Pines Animal Shelter – with the possibility of more to come.

When Terri Lichlyter and her family brought six four-week-old kittens from the shelter into their home in May, the intention was to foster the kittens for six weeks until they were old enough for adoption. But during the course of that period, Terri’s 10-year-old daughter, Kimmy, developed a strong bond with her favorite kitten of the bunch, Haven.

So much so that when all the kittens – Haven and her littermates Hummus, Hula Hoop, Hooter, Havana and Ham – went back to the shelter for adoption, Kimmy couldn’t stand the thought of never seeing Haven again. Five days later, Terri and her husband, not wanting to break the bond between their daughter and Haven, went back to the shelter and brought the kitten back home.

“When I first saw the kittens, I loved them,” Kimmy said. “And then I saw Haven and I said, ‘this is the one.’

“(My parents) may not have known it, but I knew that this was the one I was going to beg them to let me adopt.”

Not too long after that, Terri saw a post on the Southern Pines Facebook page regarding the Petco Corporation’s Holiday Wishes campaign, in which participants are encouraged to send in an essay detailing the story of their pet adoption with the possibility of earning funds for their local animal shelter. So Terri sent hers in, telling the story about the joy Haven has brought to Kimmy.

Her essay was soon picked as a People’s Choice selection by the Petco Foundation, earning $1,000 for Southern Pines Animal Shelter.

“It’s amazing,” Terri said. “I know that the shelter is always needing donations and needing money to care for all of these animals that are coming in constantly.

“So being able to help in such a big way – $1,000, I’m sure, is a pretty big amount for them – I’m really excited that they’re going to be able to help so many animals with that.”

Since Haven has been back home, Kimmy has taken over caring for the kitten, who spends most of the day with Kimmy and shares her bed at night.

“She’s 10 years old; she’s responsible enough to take care of a kitten, so we thought that this would be a neat bond with her to have,” Terri said. “And my husband is in the military, so we move around.

“So as we move, she’s going to have this kitten to move with her and be her best friend.”

The $1,000, which was presented in the form of a check Tuesday at Petco on U.S. 98, will be used to help pay for the care of other animals at Southern Pines.

“It’ll go into spay and neuter, it’ll go into medications to get them healthy and ready for adoption, and providing resources and food,” said Ginny Sims, executive director of the shelter. “It makes a huge difference, because we take in more than 8,000 animals a year at Southern Pines.

“And so gifts like this, made possible by the Petco Foundations, really help us to be able to take those steps to be able to go the extra mile, and to help stories like Haven’s possible.”

The five essays that garner the most votes in the Holiday Wishes contest will have the opportunity to help their local shelter win additional grant funding of up to $25,000. To vote for Haven’s story, visit  .

Votes will be accepted until December 20.

“Kimmy and Haven, you can look at them and you can see that love,” Sims said. “Reading their story and the bond that they have, the time and compassion that Kimmy and her family put into taking care of Haven and her littermates, and then to bring Haven home and know that no matter what stage of life she’s going through, they’re going to have each other.

“It’s really heartwarming, and it’s why we do this work. It’s why we’re so grateful for our community and for our volunteers. I can say 1,000 words, but everything you really need to know about this mission is summed up looking at Haven and Kimmy hugging each other.”