Hometown Heroes: Pets for Patriots pairs veterans with homeless cats and dogs

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It's been six months since Jonathan Hedrick lost Ziggy, his best friend and beloved cat of 12 years.


"We did it (put Ziggy down) right here in the living room. I was able to hold him and I put on a song- ‘Beautiful Boy’ by John Lennon. He passed away in my arms" said Jonathan.


Now all that's left of Ziggy is a box of mementos.


"This is the shirt he would sleep on every night. I didn't want to wash it because it probably still has his fur and smell on it," said Jonathan, going through the box.


Also inside is a very special tribute he wrote and printed in the local newspaper.


"My little boy Ziggy. Although I miss you every moment I'm awake, I will sleep easier always knowing that we will always meet again in dreams. I love you my little gentleman. Daddy," read Jonathan.


Jonathan is slowly moving past his loss, with the help of Pets for Patriots a non-profit organization pairing veterans with homeless dogs and cats.


Jonathan served three years in the military before suffering an injury that left eight screws and a plate in his leg.


He was on his way to donate some of Ziggy's old toys and food to the Humane Society of Tampa Bay when he learned about the organization and Tessa, an 8-year-old cat in need of a home.


"I met Tessa first and she was really sweet. I really wanted to take her home that day but for Ziggy's sake, for Tessa's sake and for my sake, I didn’t want to just jump into it. I wanted to make sure I was right," explained Jonathan.


But thinking it over didn’t take long, and soon enough, Jonathan had a new pet and Tessa had a new home.


"I come home and she rolls around on the carpet. She's waiting for me; she snuggles on the couch and she watches TV with me. She's great," said Jonathan.


Ziggy still has a special place in Jonathan's heart and his home, but thanks to Pets for Patriots, he now has the love of Tessa to help him heal and move on. 

Click here for more information about the Pets for Patriots program.