STEVENSVILLE — When Lisa Pezzoli Katz asked her son what he wanted for his birthday, his response was not what you’d expect from a soon-to-be 9-year-old boy. In place of a birthday gift, Ethan Katz of Chester chose to design and sell T-shirts to raise money for a nonprofit group that rescues dogs from kill shelters.
He raised more than $2,000 and saved 10 dogs from being euthanized.
The idea behind his fundraiser stems from his mother asking if he wanted to name a foster dog from City Dogs Rescue, a nonprofit organization in Washington, D.C., that rescues adoptable dogs in overcrowded and high-kill shelters, for his birthday. His family, aunt and grandmother all foster dogs through CDR, and Ethan responded to his mother’s gift idea with a plan to raise money for the organization.
“I decided to do this for my two dogs, City Dogs Rescue and because I love dogs, and I wanted to save one or two dogs,” Ethan said in a video filmed at the start of his campaign.
He went on to raise $2,640.39, including $476.28 in donations, which allowed his favorite charity to save 10 dogs.
Ethan organized the campaign through Booster, a website created by CustomInk that allows people to design and sell T-shirts, and collect donations for the cause of their choice. Booster campaigns run for about a month, and Ethan’s campaign ran from May 12 until June 10, Katz said. He sold 179 shirts at $20 each and earned $11 off each shirt, she said.
Ethan said his original goal was 75 shirts, but as the campaign progressed, he kept exceeding his goals. After increasing his goal several times, he came close to breaking his final goal of 200 shirts.
Ethan selected the color, material and style of the T-shirt, which is teal and has the CDR logo in black and white letters and an image of a dog.
When people buy a T-shirt or donate to Ethan’s campaign on Booster, they can post a comment on his webpage.
Sarah Dekuyper, who purchased a shirt and donated $10, posted, “I think this kid is beyond incredible just like the rescue. If we all could be as creative as he has been, think of all the good we could accomplish for all those homeless dogs that need our help, support and love!!”
“Happy Birthday, Ethan! I think this is a wonderful way for you to celebrate your birthday. Thank you for helping so many dogs,” wrote Catherine Kozub, who also purchased a shirt.
Ethan and his family have fostered dogs through City Dogs for several years, and they currently have two adopted dogs. Brooklyn, nicknamed “Lady,” is a miniature golden retriever that Ethan’s family fostered through CDR after she was rescued from a kill shelter in November, Katz said. After falling in love with her, the family adopted her. They also have a golden retriever named Fly, who they rescued two years ago through the Golden Retriever Rescue, Education and Training (GRREAT).
Katz’s sister and mother also foster dogs through CDR and serve as volunteers. Ethan said his grandmother, Sandra Pezzoli, owns five dogs and also fosters dogs. Pezzoli always has a foster dog at her home, Katz said, and has fostered about 10 dogs. Ethan walks them, plays with them and helps care for them, she added.
“I love dogs, and I have two of them at my house, and I love to foster them,” Ethan said.
Meredith Raimondi, a member of the CDR Board of Directors, said Katz was the facilitator behind the family becoming involved with CDR.
“It’s just really cool how the whole family has really been apart of the rescue, and it’s been really great getting to know them and it’s had a domino effect,” she said.
Raimondi said she was overjoyed by Ethan’s campaign and said it was the most successful online fundraiser the organization has ever had.
“I thought it was amazing that a young kid decided to give up his birthday present and, in doing so, was able to save 10 dogs by gaining support from the community,” she said. “I think it’s energized our community to see how a seemingly small gesture went a very long way.”
She called Ethan’s project creative and inspirational and said he is an amazing kid who has a great connection with the dogs and truly cares about animals.
Fostering a dog through CDR has no cost other than purchasing the dog’s food, Raimondi said, and it costs $350 to adopt a dog and $175 to adopt a senior dog.
CDR’s sponsor City Dogs Daycare houses about three to four dogs at a time, and the rest of the rescued dogs live in foster homes in the D.C. area until they are adopted, she said.
In the video posted on CDR’s blog, Ethan thanked everyone who bought a T-shirt and donated to his cause.
“I really wanted this to go well because I love dogs,” he said.