Helping seniors keep their pets

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Pets are like family for a lot of us, so imagine if you couldn't afford to feed your dog or cat because you're a senior and you're fixed income no longer allows it. It's a reality for a lot of the elderly people living in Jacksonville. Instead of seeing them give up the animals they hold so dear, Nancy Cross is stepping in and trying to make a huge difference.

"One day when I got off work, I saw an elderly woman standing on the corner and she was asking for pet food donations," Cross told us. Being a pet owner and lover, Cross knew she had to help. "She told me, I just don't have anything left, it's the end of the month. Until I get my social security check, it's another week. Immediately my heart went out to her," Cross said.

Nancy bought food for her pets, but then realized she needed to do more. "It just hit me. There is a need for this. A need in our own community that people don't realize." So Abby's Angels was born. A charity named after her beloved pet, Abby, but dedicated to helping the elderly that struggle to afford taking care of theirs. Her storage space that is usually full of donations is running very low. That's partially because as more seniors find out about Abby's Angels, more turn to Nancy for help. "Occassionally we need bedding," Cross said. "But any type of pet food, cat, dog wet and dry. We always need that."

In addition to providing food, grooming and supplies, Cross recently found another way for Abby's Angels to earn it's wings. She is re-homing animals for her elderly clients who are in hospice. That's what she did for Bertha Bailey's friend, Ray. Bertha told us, "He was a very special friend. He was so kind watching over the sick people at Wyndham Lakes. I called him a good samaritan and he felt the same way about animals."

Ray took a dog named Madison when his owner died, but then Ray became terminally ill. Abby's Angels stepped in and helped Ray find the right owner. Bertha explained, "When Madison found his new owners, he ran up to them and wagged his tail and licked them and it was like he knew he had a home.

Bertha said they are grateful to Cross for all she does to help them. "She would help us anyway she could, if we needed special help."

If you want to make a donation to Abby's Angels, there is a big barrel inside the Publix at Bartram Park and one inside the Publix on Old St. Augustine Rd. (where it meets Losco Rd.), or you can give money by clicking here. You can also hear from more of the seniors Abby's Angels is helping by clicking that link.