BIZNOTE: Urban Animal to become nation’s first worker co-op veterinary practice

Urban Animal (WSB sponsor) – with clinics including 17th/Roxbury in White Center – is making history, announcing that it’s becoming “the nation’s first worker cooperative veterinary practice.” Urban Animal has three clinics and 110 employees, who will as a result “share in the governance and profits of the 11-year-old company” as it makes the transition to a “limited cooperative association.” The announcement says our state has more than 30 of those types of co-ops, but nowhere else in the state or country is there one that’s a veterinary practice. . In transitioning to a limited cooperative association (LCA), Urban Animal joins approximately three dozen worker cooperative-based businesses in Washington, yet the first veterinary practice of this kind. Founder Cherri Trusheim plans to “gift a portion of the company to seed it, with a goal over time to become a 100 percent employee-owned worker co-op.” Urban Animal explains that this is another way its business practices run counter to the “unprecedented corporatization” of veterinary care: “This often detracts from employee culture. Corporatization also diminishes the standard of care by upselling and tying veterinary professionals’ compensation to the amount of products and services they sell. Urban Animal is different and does not pay any employee based on production.” Trusheim hopes to set an example for counterparts as wel as attracting employees “who desire a workplace governed by those who provide veterinary care and not a group of nameless shareholders.” Their industry, like so many others, is dealing with a staffing shortage, but this is one way Urban Animal hopes to rise above the competition for workers. They’re working with an organization called The Cooperative Way to make the shift. Trusheim will remain Urban Animal’s CEO and all three clinics will remain open.

18 Replies to "BIZNOTE: Urban Animal to become nation's first worker co-op veterinary practice"

  • andreea October 3, 2023 (2:09 pm)

    So glad you are posting this incredible story! Employee ownership is a truly sustainable model for the future, and it’s so amazing to see our very own fave vet clinic demonstrate it. 

  • LivesInWS October 3, 2023 (2:21 pm)

    Sounds quite promising! I hope this will result in good veterinarians having long-term practices here. I really miss how Lein Clinic was back when Dr. Kraabel and his wife (both DVMs) owned it. 

  • I like birds October 3, 2023 (2:49 pm)

    Urban Animal, I love you even more now! I have only been in once, because you zero’d in on my kitty’s issue and set me up with antibiotics for her eye without having to do blood tests and x-rays and blah blah blah $$$ else.  I went there BECAUSE of your down to earth business model, and I so appreciate that you  keep striving to improve it! Super, super, cool! 

  • M. October 3, 2023 (2:51 pm)

    Urban Animal is where I took my cat when he had to be put down. They were the most caring staff and even sat with my son in the lobby while the procedure was being done. I will always trust them with my future animals. 

    • bill October 4, 2023 (11:07 am)

      Sorry to hear this. Had to put down one of our cats recently. It is very hard. A question if you don’t mind: Did Urban Animal clear the facility for you? I took my cat there for diagnosis because my regular vet didn’t have an appointment available. The whole facility was very noisy with excited dogs. When the bad news became clear we went to our regular vet, where we were the only clients during the procedure.

      • Jc October 10, 2023 (9:20 am)

        I have never heard of a vet clinic clearing out all of its clientele for a euthanasia(I’m a vet). Vet clinics are busy places and euthanasias are frequent and sometimes unexpected, and can often take quite a bit of time, so it wouldn’t be realistic or fair to ask everyone else to leaveor not bring their pets in while a euthanasia is going on. Many pets are sick or having emergencies and can’t have their care put on hold just so the clinic can be quiet. You may have gotten lucky or your regular vet may be slow/low volume and only sees one appointment at a time but I would not expect that elsewhere. If you have to bring a pet to an unfamiliar clinic for euthanasia, you can ask if they have a special room for this that may be quieter or farther from noisy areas like the lobby or treatment area

  • Justducky October 3, 2023 (3:45 pm)

    This is amazing. As a former vet tech and inventory manager, I left the field because even though I was working in private practice, they switched to upselling and high volume-I saw a huge decline in the quality of care.Congrats to Urban Animal and their employees. 

  • Lindsey October 3, 2023 (3:52 pm)

    Pro-worker AND they sponsor the blog?! I think I found a new vet.

  • Interesting October 3, 2023 (4:36 pm)

    I may have found a new vet!

  • supra October 3, 2023 (5:15 pm)

    Have tried for a couple years to have our dog seen at Urban Animal but there’s always been a long wait list to be seen. Being that White Center doesn’t take appointments, we can’t use them as our regular vet anyhow. 

  • McD October 3, 2023 (5:47 pm)

    Urban Animal is amazing! Love the staff, the morning walk in-waitlist for same day appointments! Great quality care at reasonable cost ❤️

  • Claudia Williams October 3, 2023 (6:00 pm)

    My new vet, too!

  • Megan October 3, 2023 (10:49 pm)

    I work for this company and I can’t say enough good things! This is exciting not only for us, but veterinary medicine as a whole!!

  • Suzanne October 4, 2023 (6:41 am)

    I just sent this article to my vet. It’s a fantastic idea. Far better than selling out to a private equity firm, which is happening to veterinary clinics all across the country, whose sole purpose is to profit. They upsell completely unnecessary tests and procedures. It’s very stressful to the animals and extremely expensive. I work in the industry and regularly hear about this from clients. It’s a major problem. 

  • Steve Storkan October 4, 2023 (12:50 pm)

    As a non-profit organization ( whose sole mission is to help create new employee owned companies through the promotion and education of all forms of employee ownership, THIS IS MUSIC TO OUR EARS! There is another worker-cooperative veternian practice that was set up 9 months ago in Wisconsin ( I am sure they would love to share some lessons learned along the way during their short journey! Congrats!!

  • Green gurl October 4, 2023 (2:29 pm)

    We have been extremely pleased with Urban Animal in White Center. They were quiet and caring for all visits and when my brother had to euthanize his wonderful chocolate Lab, they could not have been more accommodating. I am pleased to hear that they are becoming a co-op. They are setting a fine example for other Veterinary businesses. Kudos to them. 

  • RAJR October 4, 2023 (8:18 pm)

    We’ve been taking our cats there since we first moved to West Seattle and they’ve been the most gentle, accomodating veterinary clinic we’ve ever been to.  This makes me appreciate them even more. 

  • Joelle October 4, 2023 (11:35 pm)

    I used to work with Dr Trusheim at a 24/hr vet ER right before she left to start Urban Animal. She is an incredible vet, a fabulous coworker, and I’m honored to have ever worked with her. I’m beyond excited for this turn of events in this venture of hers.

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