Veterinary Consolidation Continues | Champion of My Heart

I am absolutely disappointed to learn that another veterinary clinic that we have used for over 30 years has been swallowed up by veterinary consolidation. It’s the incredible facility (with doctors and others I consider friends) that we go to for emergency and specialty care. When it was bought by one of the smaller veterinary companies a few years ago I wasn’t thrilled, but I took comfort in the thought that at least they’d gone for a smaller one. I imagined them banding together to fend off the veterinary giants. In December 2022 I learned They fell to the same giant company who also owns the general veterinary practice we use. It seems I cannot escape the long arm of the NVA at least until someone bigger buys them too.

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Veterinary consolidation tracking

Thanks to another longtime veterinarian author I *know (or at least am connected online and through mutual real-life friends and just know a lot of the same people in the veterinary world) that I found out about this website that tracks veterinary consolidation. It seems to be profitable for a company trying to help big vet groups (and maybe not shit so much for customers like me; I can only hope).

Seriously, I almost cried when I read that NVA bought ethos. I even emailed some friends who work there about it. I’m sure there isn’t much they can say, but I feel like the change has put a lot of strain on a lot of people on the big vet team.

Why Veterinary Consolidation Concerns Me

I’ve already written about why I’m concerned about veterinary consolidation, including details of the not-fun experiences I faced after the NVA bought the main veterinary hospital we use. Especially funny when the new manager there called to “educate” me after I sent a real paper letter expressing my disappointment at what I saw as a drop in quality.

I’m not going to rehash my full list of concerns here, but just wanted to warn you that this is continuing and expanding and will soon affect all or most veterinary customers.

Why veterinary consolidation will only accelerate

This widespread veterinary consolidation is only going to accelerate because, as I have written before, at least 1/3 of veterinary clinic owners plan to sell in the next 10 years. Don’t miss my full list of ways veterinary consolidation could affect you in this previous post.

Yes, having written about veterinary medicine, veterinary economics and pet related topics for over 25 years, I 100% understand the financial pressures and limitations of veterinary practices. Providing comprehensive hospital veterinary services in communities of all sizes is a costly endeavor. And as pet consumers like us expect more and more, costs continue to rise. At some point, mathematics will only make large companies profitable.

I understand all this. I really do. And yet I fear for a future where someone like me simply won’t have access to the kind of veterinary care and animal care partnerships that I expect. I just don’t understand how someone like me isn’t overlooked or unappreciated in the midst of such high volume thinking and business operations.

What’s next in veterinary consolidation?

Whether or not the big veterinary consolidation companies remain privately owned remains to be seen. After This Until then, VCA was the *only publicly traded veterinary hospital company Mars bought it in 2017.

Real-Life Experiences TK (that’s journalism jargon for the future)

Our first experience of the specialist hospital under new ownership comes later this month when Mr Stix visits his veterinary dermatologist. Stay tuned I guess.

When Ethos took over, the main drama I experienced fell into two categories:

  • An online appointment scheduling option that didn’t really work (someone still had to call me and ask the same questions I answered online)
  • A new rule that when giving a dog for an outpatient procedure must be paid for at least in advance. Fun fact? I was way overcharged for the entire procedure and when I went to pick up Clover, a front desk clerk who knew me for all my many decades as a veterinarian customer was appalled that I was told to pay up front ever since she knows it well… we’ve always, always, always paid our bills of tens of thousands of dollars. I assumed I would have to pay more at the till as I should have only paid half but it was a mess and they ended up giving me a lot back because of the overcharge earlier in the day. SMDH

I think we’ll see what happens in a few weeks. It’s the same people doing the grooming, but you never know what damage the corporate overlords have done behind the scenes.

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