LAUREL HILL — Sunshine has seen dark clouds forming overhead. It’s just the latest in a series of challenges during a short lifetime.
The recycling center in Livingston Quarters has been home to an unusual inhabitant for more than three years. Sunshine is a cat who calls the center home — however, she is now being forced to relocate.
“Sunshine was found by the employees at the recycling center after someone threw her away in a box with the trash,” said Bill Hawkins of Laurel Hill. “William Swift and Tony Owens were the employees that saved her.”
Together, Swift and Owens cared for Sunshine.
“The Scotland County Humane Society had her fixed and gave her the needed vaccinations for free,” said Hawkins. “Sunshine spends her days with the men, and when they are not around she tends to hunt mice, lizards, or whatever may be lurking around.”
On the days the center is closed, Swift goes and feeds Sunshine.
“Tony has since passed away,” said Hawkins. “Mr. Swift has continued to care for Sunshine after his passing. I feel like it is such a shame that this beloved man of our area is losing so much so quickly. He is a veteran, he was a member of the 101st Airborne Division and is the recipient of two Purple Hearts.
“He has served his country and is loved and respected by many,” continued Hawkins. “I also worry about PTSD. A cat may seem like something small, but they can make such an impact and help by keeping his caregiver company.”
Now, Sunshine is in need of a new home after Scott Parks, solid waste enforcement officer for Scotland County, has informed Swift that the cat has to go.
“I have informed Mr. Swift that the cat needs to be relocated due to liability reasons,” said Parks. “Liabilities such as someone getting scratched or bit, as well as the possibility that it could get under someone’s feet and cause them to trip.”
Swift’s wife has allergies which means taking Sunshine home with him is not an option.
In a post on Facebook, Annie Hawkins is quoted saying, “I am posting this so all my friends can share the story of Sunshine. She is causing no one harm and has been a companion to many especially William on slow days.”
“Voice your opinions and maybe she can be allowed to stay,” continued Annie. “I am sure over the years she has potentially saved someone from harm from a rat bite, snake bite, or other critters normally found at these sites.”
Annie’s full post can be viewed on her Facebook page. Comments on the post show that Sunshine’s story has reached all the way to the United Kingdom.
Sunshine’s last day at the center is set for Wednesday or Thursday and Swift is currently interviewing to ensure she goes to a good and loving home.
“I actually just had a phone call from a gentleman that lives in Colorado,” said Swift. “He is vacationing in Myrtle Beach with his family, they brought their horses down. He told me he would come through and take Sunshine to live with them if I decided it was a good fit.”
So far, time Sunshine does not have a new home.
“I have had plenty of people offering to re-home her,” said Swift. “I just haven’t found the right fit yet. Many people that live close by have offered but she would just come back. This is the only home she has ever known.”
There are numerous others angry about the situation. Several regulars at the center are extremely unhappy about what is being done.
“This is an outrage,” said James Soles of Laurel Hill. “The person that is doing this is awful and I am sure you wouldn’t be able to print what I want to say to them.”
JJ Melton can be reached at [email protected]