20 Years of Veterinary Service
Dr. Chip Cannon, DVM, founded CityVet 20 years ago with the idea of helping veterinarians find a place to “hang their own shingle.” Reflected in the company’s core values, CityVet thrives in an environment built on family and support of both their clients and their employees, including the relatively rare concept of practice ownership.
In today’s economy, CityVet’s model of business stands out with practice ownership rising above the industry’s stale corporate culture and consolidation trends. Dr. Cannon’s goal is to give vets much-needed room to do what they do best: take care of pets and their people.
It All Started With a Burning Building
“The easiest way to explain how we came to be is just giving a little bit of history,” Dr. Cannon said. “When I got out of school, I knew that success for me as a practitioner would have to be where I focused on taking care of people and their pets. I couldn’t [just] do what all of us want to do as veterinarians, which is taking great care of pets – I knew the key to it was also taking great care of people, too.”
After working for a vet who was unwilling to sell his practice, Dr. Cannon aimed his sights on the Flower Mound area to launch his own operation. He met with and studied under developers to learn the building process in exchange for finding the site of his new practice.
Dr. Cannon soon had to halt development after a fellow vet joined a practice across the street from the potential site. A day later, the developmental plans fell through on his plot because of zoning concerns.
Despite the setbacks, Dr. Cannon maintained hope that his dream would one day be fulfilled. Leaning on his faith and trusting that the right moment to finally put his plan into action would arrive, Cannon turned to working as a mobile vet.
As it turned out, the right moment was even closer than he anticipated.
While waiting for new opportunities to arise, Dr. Cannon regularly attended a Bible study located off Oak Lawn and Lemmon Avenues in the urban sprawl of Dallas. Each time he commuted in for the study, he marveled at the lack of veterinarians in the downtown area. “My wife’s working at UT Southwestern around the corner too, and she realizes there’s a whole lot of people down in this urban area of Dallas,” explained Dr. Cannon. “I said, ‘That’s funny you mention that, because I’ve been going to this Bible study and the traffic is incredible, but every time I’m stuck in traffic I see people walking dogs.'”
The final push to Cannon’s dream took place when he witnessed his proverbial burning bush. On the way into Oak Lawn, traffic diverted due to an arson fire. The building had previously been occupied by a family of fortune tellers that were firebombed out by a rivalling group. But in the midst of the carnage, Dr. Cannon saw opportunity – at last, he knew it was time for his hard work and fortitude to pay off.
Contacting the landlord across the street, Cannon got the lease and made the move into the renovated building, which is now the site of the CityVet Oak Lawn Ruffit location. Finally – after a failed practice development, months of searching and networking, and more months of working as a mobile vet – Dr. Cannon had fulfilled his dream of practice ownership.
Today, Cannon attributes much of his success to his faith, his determination, and his unwillingness to give up on his vision. “I had no plans to come to downtown Dallas, but I’m so glad I did.”
Bigger Than a Vet Practice
“We were in an area that was – at that time – devoid of Petsmart or Banfield or a boarding facility,” Dr. Cannon said. “They didn’t know how to come to the city because it’s hard to park, hard to be smaller. We had figured that out.”
What started out as a vet practice began to grow into a boarding facility, and then a pet supply store. Dr. Cannon’s goal was to tailor retail offerings based the supplies that vets used on their own pets. For the Oak Lawn area, he pushed the idea that vets should be the primary resource for animal information – more so than Dr. Google or pet supply store clerks.
Dr. Cannon wanted to arm owners with the information to make good decisions for their pets without judgement or bias. At the same time, he aimed to enable vets to fulfill their goals in veterinary medicine while aiding them with business management support.
“You take care of the person, and you’re going to help them take the best care of their pet,” Dr. Cannon said. “We had people at the level of poverty and we were able to help them. Then you had the people on the other side of the street living in mansions on Turtle Creek, and we met their needs, too.”
20 Years Later, CityVet’s Future is Bright
CityVet has grown a little since its founding in 1999, now with a staff of more than 300 team members who have served more than 50,000 clients and their pets over the past 20 years. It’s performed 16,000 neuter and spay operations, given 75,000 vaccines, and has even survived a hurricane.
“We’ve become a client-centric business model with a DVM ownership equity model that’s focused on being in urban areas where the need is high,” Dr. Cannon said. “It has become an identity that not only I’m thankful for and proud of, but that every veterinarian that has joined our team can relate to.”
From its humble beginnings to today’s family of 14 clinics and four boarding facilities, CityVet has Dr. Cannon as excited as ever for the days ahead.