Veterinary Care is Now Big Business
Most people are under the impression that their veterinary care provider is a locally owned and operated small business.
That may not be the case anymore.
Over the past few decades, many long-established veterinary practices have been purchased by large corporations or private equity groups who see enormous financial opportunity within the pet care industry. In other words, small town veterinary care has become a big profit center.
Large consolidators are able to utilize economies of scale and a centralized management structure to their advantage in achieving efficiencies that are out of reach for an independent practice. Unfortunately, revenue generated by the practice is returned to a home office, which may or may not be located in the United States.
These acquisitions tend not be publicized, and there are no obvious changes that would alert clients to new ownership – at least not right away – so it can be hard to tell the difference between local and corporate-owned hospitals. Eventually, you may start to see pricing changes (such as additional fees), doctors and/or staff members you don’t recognize, the introduction of new policies and procedures, and maybe some aesthetic upgrades to the facility.
So how do you know if a veterinarian is locally owned and independently operated?
Check on their website to see if their ownership structure is mentioned. They likely won't indicate if they're corporate- or private equity-owned, but independent veterinarians are proud to be locally owned.
Look for the Independent Veterinary Practitioners Association (IVPA) logo either on the website or displayed at the hospital. Membership in this association symbolizes a practice’s commitment to its patients, its clients and the community as a whole.
Call the practice and/or ask the veterinarian directly. He or she may try to avoid answering that question, especially if it's not what they think you want to hear. Don't settle for less than a “yes” or “no” answer.
When it comes to your pet’s health care, working with a locally owned veterinary practice is a great way to ensure your furry family member gets personalized medical attention from a provider who has their best interests in mind.
You do have a choice. Choose local. Vet local.