Two years ago, Prince Chunk was a pretty miserable cat. When his guardian’s home in Voorhees, NJ, entered foreclosure, she abandoned him on the street and walked away forever. Who knows how long Prince Chunk was homeless before Camden County Animal Shelter officials rescued him. The shelter staff was shocked by his size—a whopping 22 pounds—and soon Prince Chunk was a celebrity, appearing on morning talk shows, radio programs, and in local papers. Within 48 hours, Prince Chunk had made 16 media appearances. He was a star, and there was no going back.
So when the Damiani family brought Prince Chunk home to stay, they knew he was a special cat. The white and orange Tom happily became a member of the family, and his life story opened their eyes to the plight of pet guardians struggling to meet their animals’ needs because of the economic downturn. In honor of his portly pal, 19-year-old Vince Damiani launched the nonprofit Prince Chunk Foundation on June 9 to help pets in Prince Chunk’s situation.
Tails: What inspired you to start the Prince Chunk Foundation?
Vince Damiani: I worked at an animal shelter in Camden, NJ. There’s a lot of dogfighting and crime there, and I really saw firsthand how much aid was needed. I knew I wanted to start a nonprofit.
Tails: What will the organization do for pet guardians in financial crisis?
Damiani: It’s designed to help pet guardians during times of financial crisis. Sometimes people are facing a choice between caring for themselves and caring for a pet. Many, many Americans are in that situation today. We want to prevent it. The foundation is going to offer free veterinary care and pet food to applicants who qualify.
Tails: What role did Prince Chunk play in your decision to launch a nonprofit?
Damiani: When Prince Chunk came into the shelter, I fell in love with him. His former guardian’s home was foreclosed, and she just abandoned him to the street. People would bring in their animals because they couldn’t care for them. This kind of organization was always necessary, but the recession has made the need 10 times greater now.
Tails: Where can pet guardians receive aid from the Prince Chunk Foundation?
Damiani: So far we’re launching in New York, Pennsylvania, California, and New Jersey. By 2012, we want to be able to help pet guardians nationally.
Tails: What kinds of pets are covered by the Prince Chunk Foundation?
Damiani: Right now it’s only cats and dogs, but we’re looking to branch off in the future. We don’t want to go too widespread at first so we can focus on giving quality help.
Need help? Want to donate? Call the Prince Chunk Foundation hotline at (856) 302-6373 or visit PrinceChunkFoundation.com. If you are a veterinarian or pet supplies retailer interested in partnering with the Prince Chunk Foundation, contact the foundation at the following address:
P.O. Box 8044, Blackwood, NJ 08012. –Amanda Hughes