Bond Vet Launching Northeast Expansion

Bond Vet, a chain of walk-in veterinary offices that provides urgent care for cats and dogs, is preparing to double in size this year, and expand its territory, with openings in the Boston and Washington D.C. metro areas.

Bond Vet is growing as a number of competitors, ranging from the biggest pet retailers to small startups, are all trying to grab a piece of the lucrative pet healthcare market. It is targeting the metropolitan millennial pet parent who is looking for a quick and convenient place to get help for an ailing dog or cat.

Bond Vet’s expansion is being fueled by a $170 million investment from private equity firm Warburg Pincus, the same investment firm that acquired CityMD in 2017 and merged it with with medical practice Summit Medical Group to create the dominant urgent care chain in New York and New Jersey.

When the Warburg Pincus investment was announced last fall, the private equity firm said it was looking to tap into the growing market and increased demand for veterinary services.

Pet version of CityMD

Bond Vet models itself as a pet version of CityMD in providing a convenient urgent care option, but the company also drew inspiration from tech-forward human healthcare providers like One Medical, Bond Vet co-founder and CEO Mo Punjani said.

Bond Vet’s telehealth services and its technology stack, including in-clinic software and pet parent facing software give pet owners the type of tech-enabled healthcare experiences pioneered by One Medical, Punjani said.

Bond Vet opened its first clinic in mid-2019, in the Cobble Hill neighborhood of Brooklyn. It now has 11 clinics in New York, and plans to grow to 25 locations by the end of this year. The first openings outside of the New York metro area will be in the Boston metro area and in Bethesda, MD.

Since 2019, Bond Vet clinics have treated more 100,000 pet patients. Dogs make up 70% of the clinic visitors, and cats 30%.

Bond Vet describes its clinics as being able to take care of illnesses and problems that go beyond routine exams, but don’t require an emergency pet hospital – problems like bite wounds, limping, loss of appetite, overgrown nails, or a pet who swallowed a toy, or ate something they shouldn’t have.

Chewy, PetSmart, Petco also in the race

Bond Vet faces competition in the pet health space from the three biggest dogs in the pet retail pack – Chewy, PetSmart, and Petco – all of which have said they are targeting vet services and prescriptions as a prime growth driver.

A concierge vet startup, Small Door Veterinary,which uses a membership model, raised $20 million last year to fund expansion, with a goal of 24 additional clinics by 2025. It currently has three locations in the New York metro area.

A mobile, petcare-that-comes-to-you startup, The Vets, recently secured $40 million in funding to expand veterinarian recruitment. The Vets currently is operating in Miami, Tampa, Dallas, Austin, Houston, Portland, Seattle, Las Vegas, Denver, and New York City, and plans to add 15 more cities by the end of this year. It was founded in 2021 as part of lead investor Target Global’s venture building program.

Vet burnout a problem

Demand for vets is skyrocketing. The Bureau of Labor Statistics forecasts that employment of vets will grow 17% between 2020 and 2030, outpacing other professions. Turnover, burnout, and psychological distress among vets are leading to more retirements and career changes, according the the American Veterinary Medical Association.

Bond has addressed that, Punjani said, by building a business that provides the best working environment for vets and nurses.

That has resulted in “extremely high retention for our veterinarians and nurses and an ability to remove all sorts of things from their administrative burden. and empower them with the tools to do their best work,” Punjani said.

One of Bond Vet’s co-founders is Dr. Zay Satchu, is an advocate for creating healthy working environments for vets.

The clinics, which range in size from 2,000 to 4,000 square feet, are designed to be spaces that are relaxing for pets and owners, and that also allow for efficient work flows.

Punjani said Bond Vet differentiates itself from the vet services offered by big retailers and by startups with its focus on illness response. At a big box retailer, he said, a pet would not be able to be treated for many of the illnesses that can be treated at Bond.

In addition, the technology Bond Vet has created to allow vets and customers to manage appointments, and treatments, would be difficult for a competitor to replicate, he said. That tech provides note-taking assistance, enables communication between doctors and pet owners, and powers the 24-hour helpline staffed by nurses.

Bond Vet also offers a lower cost alternative for ill pets, he said. Pet owners can save approximately 50% of the cost of a trip to an emergency pet hospital by using a Bond Vet clinic, Punjani said.

For the near future, Punjani said, Bond Vet is focused on expanding in the Northeast, “but ultimately we think that our value proposition to pets, pet parents, and veterinarians and nurses will be welcomed across the country,” he said.

Bond has a headstart in the race to capture pet healthcare spending by millennials, but it will have to outrun the other pet players chasing those dollars.