Dave and Jill Cottone were heartbroken when their dog Sedona passed away from cancer. They have turned their grief into a positive when they started the Sedona Grace Foundation.
Sedona was only ten years old when she had to be put down in February 2011 because of cancer. The Cottones wished they had more time with her.
“Once in a while, you have an animal come into your life that is just different,” said Jill.
Dave agreed and commented on how people were often drawn to Sedona. Soon after Sedona’s death Jill said something that sparked an idea for the couple.
“She told me: ‘As painful as it is for us to lose her, we had closure. Imagine what it would be like to have to give up a dog because you couldn’t afford them,” recalled Dave.
It was from that idea that the couple started the Sedona Grace Foundation, a non-profit that provides care packages to pet owners who are struggling financially in hopes of helping them keep their pets.
The Cottones took the time to get the non-profit started, try to find the best deals on quality pet food and figure out the best way to get packages to pet owners in need.
They soon teamed up with the Smoky Row Food Pantry to stock some of their care packages and the pantry director, Anna Moreno, was surprised at how popular they became. Moreno says that each week about 20 families utilize the care packages.
“If not for the Sedona Grace Foundation, they would need to get rid of their dogs,” said Moreno.
The Sedona Grace Foundation now works with 10 other food pantries and at each one there has been a surprising demand for them. Since 2011 over 5,500 canine packages have been delivered.
They are helping people like Rodney McNamee and his dog Sabbath. Before he had access to the Sedona Grace care packages he had been feeding Sabbath table scraps. He knew it wasn’t the best for Sabbath, but he had no other option.
“Them supplying the dog food is a help,” said McNamee. “He means everything to me. He’s my home-security system and is so playful. He sees that bag and it’s over.”
The Cottones dedicate about 15 hours a week to the foundation. They don’t only offer food in their care packages. They also offer flea collars, toys for the holidays and they hope to one day be able to offer free spaying and neutering services.
The Cottones have heard some criticism from people asking why they feed dogs instead of people, but the Cottones know what a big comfort pets offer people going through difficult times. Helping people save money on their pets allows them to put more of their money towards groceries for themselves and their families.
For more information on the Sedona Grace Foundation visit their website.