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Memorial fund to help Action for Animals Humane Society in Derry Township

| Monday, June 17, 2013, 12:01 a.m.
Lauren's Wing, a fund for animal care, will help pay for lifesaving medical treatment for shelter animals at Action for Animals in Latrobe. The fund was established to honor the memory of Lauren Thompson, who was killed in a drunk driving accident in June, 2011.

Maggie Lawrence was petting rabbits with husband, Phil, at the Action for Animals Humane Society in Derry Township when she thought of her late best friend, Lauren Thompson.

“She loved horses and rabbits and dogs,” said Lawrence, who had an idea to honor Thompson, who was 30 when she was killed in a car accident June 23, 2011.

“It was very traumatic, life-altering, knowing that you're never going to see her again,” said Lawrence of Latrobe.

Now Lawrence will help lead a new fund in Thompson's memory called Lauren's Wing to benefit animals that need specialists or emergency services.

Thompson's mother, Karen Thompson Highlands, will act as chairwoman, aided by Kathy Newill, president of Action for Animals.

“Lauren was an extraordinary person, and they wanted the fund to help extraordinary animals in need,” Newill said.

While routine procedures such as spaying and neutering are covered by general funds at the humane society, specialists are tough on the budget. Lauren's Wing will alleviate otherwise difficult decisions for those treatments, Newill said.

The fund could have the potential to help animals “several times per month,” she said, citing two animals now available for adoption at the shelter: Cesar, a “senior” Pomeranian that saw a specialist at The Ohio State University for his bad eyesight, and Kissme, a friendly lap cat whose leg had to be amputated as a result of a car accident.

“We have a lot of great vets at the shelter, but sometimes we need to send an animal out,” said Lawrence, who has been volunteering at the facility since 2005.

Thompson was killed while a passenger in a Jeep driven by Lindsay Halliday of Mt. Pleasant, who last month was sentenced to three to six years in prison.

Thompson Highlands said her daughter would have been glad that animals will be saved through their efforts.

“It's a true blessing and a most fitting tribute to a person who treasured animals,” she said.

Thompson was an avid equestrian while growing up and helped care for her family's pet therapy dog.

Lawrence and Thompson went to high school together, skied together often and were college roommates.

Thompson Highlands of Greensburg was not familiar with the humane society, but Newill said she felt a kinship with the mother when they met.

“I was thrilled and honored that they chose Action to partner with,” Newill said, adding that brainstorming the final idea and handling red tape has taken nine months of planning.

Fundraising events will be planned separately from regular Action for Animals annual events, Newill said.

“We hope the community will see the need for it and the importance of it,” she said.

On Route 217 outside Latrobe, Action for Animals is a nonprofit, no-kill shelter that can house about 150 animals. The shelter, celebrating its 30th anniversary, is run by an all-volunteer board of directors.

Thompson Highlands said she is glad Lawrence wanted to remember her daughter in such a way that will benefit animals in need.

“She was very blessed with wonderful friends, and Maggie and Phil were two of them,” she said.

Stacey Federoff is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-836-6660 or

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