This week’s newsletter contains several announcements that are straightforward alone but indicate some significant shifts when taken together. Mars Petcare (owner of VCA and Banfield) announced a significant study that would generate physiological metadata from 20,000 pets. This data could provide strong synergy to the Mars investments in genetics made in recent years. Another Mars subsidiary, Antech, has announced an expanded relationship with cancer test maker PetDx to make the OncoK9 test available to all Antech customers, broadening the reach of this testing technology. Finally, PetSmart has announced a program that will enable independent veterinarians to open a franchised practice in PetSmart locations. Until now, the Mars subsidiary Banfield operates most vet clinics in PetSmart retail locations.
We’ve all watched our industry embrace investments in genetics in a very long-term process with very few obvious near-term benefits. It’s too soon to tell, but the Mars Petcare Biobank could mark the beginning of the next phase where genetics begins to be more closely integrated into normal veterinary practice. In addition, PetSmart’s announcement that they will be opening a program to encourage and develop more independent ownership of in-store clinics provides yet another pathway for veterinarians to find a blend of “old style” clinic ownership with the benefits of the corporate business model that has swept the industry in recent years.
We, like you, will eagerly monitor the changes in landscape as they occur, and we’ll try to help us all make sense of the opportunities.