COCOA BEACH, Fla. — There are dog lovers. There are cat lovers. And then there’s Nikki Young.
By day, Young serves up drinks and food at the Cocoa Beach Pier.
But by night — or anytime, really — her passion for animals is 10 on a 10 scale.
“I feel like it’s my calling to help them out,” she says. “They are like my kindred spirits. I feel sorry for the ones who don’t have homes. I guess because I couldn’t have kids.”
Young is known around the pier as the “Pigeon Rescuer,” because she helps injured birds get help.
She recently took in a 12-year-old dog that needed a home. But all animals are important to her.
“I rescued a ferret. I rescued a fish from the pet store,” laughs Young.
Young also helps feral cats living on the beach.
In October 2018, Spectrum News 13 did a story of her love for the feline some called the Pier Cat. The stray was known to some as Severus from the Harry Potter films, as Spooky to others, and Keith to the local oyster bar workers.
“He was just a fixture. I mean, when we all came to work, we were happy to see the cat,” Young said then.
“Now we don’t see the cat, and we take things for granted,” she says.
Young paid for the cat to be put to sleep, too. And then she put together a special ceremony in which Pier Cat’s ashes were released into the ocean.
“Everyone came out of the woodwork,” she says. “I made a lot of friends because of that cat. A lot of people care about animals, and you all bond together.”
It’s a bond she is grateful to have with people as well as animals.