When Mission Animal Hospital (MAH) opened in 2012, its goal was simple: to offer affordable veterinary services to people in financial need. Nearly four years later, this veterinary hospital has undergone some major upgrades — including cool new digs and an innovative transition to a nonprofit business model — but its mission is as steadfast and important as ever. “Too many times over the years, I’ve been heartbroken by seeing owners and pets forced to say goodbye due to the high cost of veterinary care. I’ve long believed that every animal that needs care should get that care – no matter the circumstances,” Executive Director Dr. Susan Miller said.
This summer, we toured their new Eden Prairie facility, which opened in late 2015 following a capital campaign including a prolific Indiegogo campaign. The new space is a wow, and it’s no wonder — Susan was an interior designer in a previous lifetime. A bright, modern lobby with fun touches like a floor-level doggie drinking fountain gives way to an efficient, circular behind-the-scenes area where staff members provide state-of-the-art care.
Most importantly, the expansion means more services, space, and staff, which ultimately will allow MAH to serve many more pets than in previous years. “We are expecting to serve over 14,000 pets in 2016 — this is over 5,000 more than in our old space,” Susan said.
MAH welcomes clients of any income, all of whom have access to its regular pricing, which is low to average. Clients who provide proof of low-income status can receive 20% off of regular pricing. “Right now about half of our clients qualify for this ‘Mission Pricing’,” Susan said, a percentage she hopes will increase as word continues to spread about their low-cost services.
“Our full-pay clients help subsidize the costs for Mission-Pricing clients,” she explained.
In addition to discounted pricing, MAH accepts CareCredit and in-house payment plans, both of which can ease the burden of a high vet bill. In certain circumstances, such as a pet whose illness has a good prognosis but whose owner is under severe financial strain, clients can qualify for a donor-funded grant.
Mission Pricing is also available to local rescues, and MAH currently works with about 40.
Susan also emphasized the importance of finding the right staff for MAH: people with high levels of empathy to match their high levels of technical expertise. To this end, she regularly holds staff trainings on empathy, communication skills, and compassion fatigue.
“Veterinary costs are increasing, and some pet owners feel left behind due their fear of the rising vet bills. We’re doing what we can to ease this anxiety so that all beloved pets can get the care they need,” Susan said.