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.
West Seattle, Washington