By Valerie Franchi, Contributing Writer
Northborough – In February, Scrunchie, a year-old Pomeranian from Ludlow, was found abandoned, suffering from near-fatal injuries inflicted by his former owner. A new crowdfunding website, created by Northborough resident Peter Alberti, raised $10,000 in three days to pay for his medical care.
“That was our biggest success so far,” Alberti said.
Since the site – PetChance.org – was launched in September 2012, it has raised over $110,000, helping 360 pet owners in 49 states pay for costly veterinary care for sick and injured animals.
Just three months before, Alberti, a self-described entrepreneur who has launched 13 start-ups, came up with the idea for the crowdfunding site, where pet owners raise money for treatment they would otherwise be unable to afford.
“I was listening to a WBZ Radio talk show in the car,” he recalled. “The guest was a veterinarian and most of the calls were from pet owners asking about cheaper treatment options for their pets because they could not afford vet costs.”
He immediately stopped retooling the start-up he had been working on and focused his energy on PetChance.org.
With his wife Janet and a small team, he developed the site, protecting users against scams by working directly with the animal hospitals to ensure the money raised is used for what the donor intends.
“PetChance is unique because it is the only one that doesn’t send money to the client,” Alberti explained. “Donors love it. They can choose the pet they want to sponsor and be assured that the money will go
directly to the animal hospital.”
The main goal, he said, is to prevent pets from remaining sick, being euthanized, or even abandoned. Any money left over is used to help other animals.
“Some of the people on our site have done everything they can. They’ve sold their car or house to pay for medical bills,” Alberti said. “Their pets are their family.”
Those who know the Albertis, who moved to Northborough in 1997, are surprised to learn they don’t have any pets themselves.
“I love cats and dogs; I grew up with cats. But when I started Pet Chance it wasn’t only about helping pets – it was more about helping people, the pet owners, who needed help,” Alberti said.
PetChance.org became a nonprofit organization in June and will hold its first major fundraiser Saturday Jan. 31 beginning at 10 a.m. “Pedal for Paws” is a 24-hour “spin-a-thon” taking place at the Solomon Pond Mall in Marlborough.
Up to 24 teams of 24 riders will be spinning on bikes for one hour per person. Prizes, music and other fun will accompany the spinning, where riders are welcome to be as competitive or as leisurely as they wish.
“We’re off to a great start, and now we have a lot more work to do,” Alberti said. “Millions of pets are surrendered, abandoned or euthanized each year because they cannot get the care they need. Our spin-a-thon event will enable us to support far more pets than we can right now.”
While Alberti is pleased with the success of PetChance, the site’s growth “is not going quickly enough” for him.
“Entrepreneurs aren’t patient people,” he said. “But it is still going and people love it. It is the most gratifying thing I’ve ever done.”
To learn more or to sponsor a sick or injured pet, visit PetChance.org. To join “Pedal for Paws,” visit http://pedalforpaws.petchance.org.