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The kitty’s 19-year-old owner launches an organization to help families in need

By Kate Hogan
Updated June 09, 2010 07:00 PM
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Call him an unlikely hero: Prince Chunk, an overweight cat who attracted tons of media attention after he arrived in a New Jersey animal shelter in 2008, is at the center of a new foundation dedicated to aiding needy pet-owning families.

Launched today, the Prince Chunk Foundation was started by the cat’s new owner, 19-year-old Vince Damiani, as a way to help families keep their pets when facing financial crises. “I worked at an animal shelter for years, and I saw the amount of aid that was needed,” Damiani tells PEOPLEPets.com. “I thought it would be helpful to people who are struggling and worried about abandoning their animals.”

The foundation has two main facets: emergency veterinary care and emergency food assistance. Families dealing with economic issues can apply to either program, and upon review of their information, receive free urgent medical care or three months’ worth of pet food for their cat or dog.

Right now, the program is available in New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania and California. “We wanted to start with the first three states to get established on a grassroots level,” Damiani explains. But California was where he saw a true need. “They’re in the midst of a bad budget crisis, the unemployment rate is up … they really need aid immediately,” he says. Damiani hopes to expand to other states – and animals – by 2012.

Prince Chunk and Damiani met fatefully at the Camden County Animal Shelter when the cute kitty’s owner relinquished him. Reported to weigh a whopping 44 lbs. – though Damiani says it was closer to 22 lbs. – Prince Chunk became a poster child for pets whose owners could no longer care for them financially. Now, he’s down to 17 lbs., coexisting peacefully with the Damiani’s cat Tito and dogs Romeo, Marla and Noel in suburban New Jersey.

To help cats (and dogs!) like Prince Chunk, visit the Foundation’s website, or send donations to: P.O. Box 8044, Blackwood, NJ 08012.