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Grand Rapids Startup is Redefining Standard of Care for Pets and Vets

Grand Rapids Startup is Redefining Standard of Care for Pets and Vets

Pet parents would do anything for their pets. Especially Millennials and Gen Zers, who make up about 50% of pet owners and treat their “fur babies” like, well, babies. 

So why do so many settle for a broken vet industry?

It was something Sadoc Paredes and Rachel Berkal experienced firsthand when they adopted their own dog, Penny Lane. 

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Sadoc and Ruby Paredes had founded a vet diagnostic lab in Denver back in 2018. When fiancés Sadoc and Rachel brought home a puppy in 2021, they experienced a lot of the issues many pet parents face: long waiting times to make a vet appointment, stressed pets at the office, the struggle of tracking down medical records for doggy day care, and more. 

“The industry felt outdated,” says Rachel. “If I can get my own medical records online, why can’t I do that for my dog?”

Combining their expertise from the vet diagnostic lab, their experience as pet parents, and the expertise of veterinarian Dr. Brad Boike; Rachel, Sadoc, Ruby and Dr. Boike launched Vetr Health, a modern, membership-based platform for in-home vet care. 

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Vetr health founders: Sadoc Paredes, Dr. Brad Boike, Rachel Berkal and Ruby Paredes


Pet care meets vet care

Vetr Health is a yearly membership with all-inclusive services: starting with 2 at-home visits (the number increases if you have more pets), annual vaccines, unlimited telehealth, and more. Plus, everything is accessible through the pet’s online profile, making records easy to pull for doggy daycare or grooming appointments. 

The main benefit of the membership model is the importance of wellness care. 

“With a Vetr membership, you have our veterinary team in your corner throughout the year with no surprise bills,” says Rachel. And anyone with a pet knows that a simple visit to the office can stick you with a surprise bill worth hundreds of dollars.  

Sadoc compares it to human medicine. “Acute and emergency care can get very expensive for pet parents ,” he says. “It’s better to detect and treat issues early on. Vetr helps you do that.”

Not only does Vetr Health introduce a new way for pet parents to receive quality care for their animals, Vetr is also trailblazing a new and better work experience for vets. 

After consulting with Dr. Brad Boike, who is now Vetr’s Chief Medical Officer, Rachel and Sadoc realized that the issues in the vet industry ran deep. 

“Vets want to provide great care for the animals, but the system makes it difficult,” says Rachel. 

A rising veterinarian shortage is leading to severe burnout and poor work-life balance. Vets have high debt-to-income ratios, and there’s a large gender pay gap. Women make up about 60% of vets, and that number is only rising. Yet, the average income for male vets is significantly higher, especially among recent graduates, according to the American Animal Hospital Association. 

With Vetr, vets can better control their schedules, never work weekends or holidays, spend more time with the animals, and get a salary up to 40% over market rate. 

“The gender pay gap stops with Vetr,” says Rachel. “Vets got into this profession because they love pets. So many are leaving the industry, and we want to help them stay and find the work experience they deserve.”

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Dr. Brad Boike and Penny Lane

Plus, with in-home pet care, it’s easy to see the value for people and their pets. You don’t have to leave your home and wrangle your pet into the car (we’re looking at you cat owners), and your pet can be relaxed in their own environment. Instead of a vet spending on average 12 minutes with the pet in the clinic, they can spend a whole hour with the animal, letting them warm up to them, and provide the best quality of care, says Sadoc.

There’s no doubt the pandemic has accelerated this need — and also paved the way for it. During the pandemic, pet ownership rose astronomically. Between March 2020 and May 2021, about one in five households adopted a dog or cat. The pandemic also accelerated the development of telehealth services and normalized its usage. 

“The pandemic taught us that we can have this level of convenience. It’s not just a luxury but a necessity,” says Rachel. “Also, now that flexible schedules are so much more common, members are able to plan their day for the vet visit so it’s minimally disruptive to their work and personal lives.”

A growing paw print

Since Vetr launched in 2023 in Grand Rapids, Michigan, the startup has seen a lot of traction. And it’s just the beginning. 

In Start Garden’s 2022 Demo Day, Vetr finished in the top ten, receiving $20,000, which Sadoc and Rachel say was a huge confidence boost to have the support of Start Garden and the other judges. 

After that, the company moved into The Bridge, which is an office incubator founded by Spartan Innovations under the MSU Research Foundation, and Vetr went through its Conquer Accelerator. They also received an investment from Red Cedar Ventures. Last May, Rachel attended the founders' retreat through Michigan Founders Fund

“Being a first time founder and getting plugged into the startup community was really important,” Rachel says. Vetr joined MFF later that year. 

Now, after these major milestones, Vetr is working on expanding its footprint throughout Michigan. They are now servicing Grand Rapids and are hiring more vets to meet demand. 

Additionally, Rachel and Sadoc are focusing on new ways to add value and additional benefits to the membership, as well as ways to launch partnerships with small pet focused businesses, which are often independently owned by women, and brick and mortar clinics.

“It’s all about helping the pets. We don’t see brick and mortar as competition,” Rachel says. “There are so many pets, and we want to work together to support them and the pets that need care.”

To stay up to date on Vetr as they continue to grow throughout Michigan, follow them on Instagram, Facebook and LinkedIn @vetrhealth.


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