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Northborough Resident Helps Pet Owners Pay Bills

A new Westborough business called PetChance.org is walking in new crowd funding territory.

A new Westborough business helping pet owners fund veterinary bills started because Peter Alberti listened to news talk radio in July.

PetChance.org was inspired by callers to a talk show who asked a veterinarian questions, the Northborough resident said.

“The callers were saying, ‘My vet told me my pet needs this treatment, needs this surgery, needs this oncology, and I can’t afford that,'" Alberti said. "'What cheaper alternatives do I have than what my vet gave me?’ In some cases, they said, ‘Do I need to let the pet suffer? Give up the pet?’ In a couple of cases, they literally said, ‘Do I need to put the pet down?’”

Alberti said he called into the show to suggest pet owners consider crowd funding, which is “when a bunch of people come together and donate small amounts of money to a larger cause. Usually, this is done through a website,” such as Indiegogo and Kickstarter. But, he couldn’t get through.

“I thought, ‘If these people have never heard of this or didn’t think of it, maybe they need to,’” Alberti said. “Maybe there’s a niche opportunity for crowd funding in the pet medical space.”

Launched Sept. 6, PetChance.org asks pet owners to create a “chance,” in which they “say which you are using. And we call the vet and say, ‘Is this your client? Is this your patient? Is this the medical treatment? And how much does it cost?’

“The vet has to verify it for us. Once you verify it, you’re allowed to raise money. And then at the end of it, we pay the vet. We don’t pay you. We eliminate fraud by paying the vet.”

The site now has about 60 registered users, 25 registered pets, 15 chances raising money, and two completed fully funded ones, Alberti said. The business uses space at Well Directions, 45 Lyman St., Suite 15.

PetChance.org was “originally conceived” as a way “to help people fund treatment that’s needed,” he said.

“What I’m finding is probably 65, 70 percent of our clients are funding treatments that already happened,” so, the site can accommodate those clients, he said.

Alberti said he is working with the Metrowest-area VCA Animal Hospitals, which include hospitals in Northborough and Shrewsbury.

“The veterinarians go into practice to heal pets," said Alberti. "The veterinarians themselves will want this because they don’t want to have to let a pet suffer. They also don’t want to have to make guesses about whether or not they’re providing the right treatment. They want to do the right diagnostics. And then, obviously, the hospitals themselves, they don’t make money if you euthanize a pet. So, everybody benefits."

Nboro resident November 29, 2012 at 05:50 AM
Lovely idea but Beware of VCA! They are too quick to suggest unneeded $$$ procedures. In my experience they recommended surgery for my dog's heart murmur that another vet said was unnecessary. So glad for the 2nd opinion. That dog lived another 9 years, with his heart murmur, until the ripe old age of 15. Never went back to VCA. Lots of other Northborough dog owners I know avoid it too, for similar reasons. Mr. Alberti, please consider branching out to other vets.
Peter Alberti November 30, 2012 at 02:06 AM
Thanks for your comment! It's unfortunate that you had this experience with VCA. I'm close with the Metrowest-area VCA folks and I'll alert them to your valuable opinion. Your note came as a surprise to me, since their stated philosophy and approach contradicts the experience you described. But of course, things happen and not every doctor works the same way. I'm glad you found someone that works well for you. To your advice -- We work with many veterinary hospitals - in fact, in addition to MA we have clients nationally in Nevada, New Jersey, Florida, Connecticut, Michigan and elsewhere. As long as the vet is willing to verify the Chance, we're happy to help the client wherever they choose to go! Have a great holiday season!!

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