“Once in awhile, you have an animal come into your life that is just different,” Jill tells The Columbus Dispatchof Sedona, the German Shepherd–Labrador Retriever mix the Cottones rescued from an animal shelter in 2004.
In February 2011, shortly after Sedona was diagnosed with advanced-stage cancer, David and Jill made the heartbreaking decision to end their beloved dog’s suffering. Sedona was 10-years-old when she passed.
But even though Sedona is no longer with them, the Cottones say she is still making a difference in their lives.
“There was something about her,” David says of their late dog. “People just gravitated toward her.”
Shortly after Sedona’s death, just as David and Jill were in the throes of grief, Jill said something that sparked an idea that would change their lives — and the lives of so many people and pets in the Cottone’s community.
“She told me: ‘As painful as it is for us to lose her, we had closure,” David remembers. “Imagine what it would be like to have to give up a dog because you couldn’t afford them.”
Inspired by Sedona’s memory and the knowledge that pet owners in their community were struggling, the Cottones decided to start the Sedona Grace Foundation — a small nonprofit organization that provides care packages for dog and cat owners who are having financial troubles. David and Jill deliver these packages to 11 area food pantries and two local organizations that help the homeless.
Each dog care package donated by the Sedona Grace Foundation contains 10 days worth of dog food and 10 Milk-Bone dog biscuits.
“We could just do dog food,” David explains, “but we wanted to do something nice.”
Because of Sedona, David and Jill know the joy the love of a cherished pet can bring to a person, regardless of that person’s financial status. But the stories they learn along the way are sometimes hard to hear, Jill explains.
“What we weren’t prepared for was hearing people were sharing half their dinner with their dog,” she says. “That’s what broke our hearts but let us know we were on the right path.”
“If not for the Sedona Grace Foundation, they would need to get rid of their dogs,” Moreno explains. “For older clients, [pets] are a reason for getting up in the morning. For families with little children, they’re part of the family.”
Helping keep pets and their families together is extremely rewarding for the Cottones.
“I know people whose dog means the world to them,” David says. “Being able to feed them and give them a treat once in awhile lets them enjoy their pet.”
For more information about the Sedona Grace Foundation visit the organization’s Facebook page today.