Putting Our
Associates First

The secret to providing the highest quality medical care, continuing our legacy and supporting our vision? It starts with championing our highly valued Associates! During the challenges presented in 2020, we expanded our focus on mental health, financial benefits and well-being for thousands of our Associates via a range of new programs focused on making lives better every day. And we took the opportunity to listen and learn from our Associates in one-on-one meetings and group discussions.

Many of our teams have been touched by the unique emotional challenges of the veterinary profession. We’re here to help—to find ways to make well-being a priority and to provide new and expanded resources that make sure we keep caring for one another.

Johanna Baldwin
Director, Associate Health & Well-Being

World Veterinary Day

World Veterinary Day, April 25, 2020. Just a few weeks into the start of the pandemic, when our hospitals were working so very hard to keep people and pets safe, we created a short video highlighting our heroes to thank them for caring and carrying on.

Faces of Caring

So many clients wrote to us to highlight the outstanding and selfless acts by our hospital teams. We created the internal Faces of Caring campaign to celebrate the VCA Associates who went above and beyond to make people and their pets feel safe and well taken care of during trying and emotional times.

We’re in It
Together, Always

In 2020, we expanded our mental health and support pilot program, helping over 7,500 Associates access advanced mental health resources and therapy—all at no cost to them. The Cigna Life Assistance Plan offered similar support to Associates and their family members. We made the meditation app Headspace available to all of our Associates, hosted topical webinars with experts, held virtual healing circles, trained our leaders in suicide prevention, increased our regional HR outreach, and offered our Associates extra benefits.

If the events of last year reinforced anything, it’s that we’re all truly in this together.

Total Rewards

We believe in rewarding our Associates for their hard work—which starts with competitive compensation and benefits as part of their Total Rewards. We also supported families living through bereavement and welcoming new births, as well as celebrating gender identity and strengthening parent-child connections.

IN 2020/2021


Increased our 401(k) contributions

and accelerated vesting from 5 years to only 2 years


Celebrating healthy gender identity

Gender affirmation surgery is a covered benefit under both Kaiser and Anthem plans


Increased coverage of company-paid life insurance

now a full year of wages


Strengthening the parent-child connection

Four weeks of paid parental leave for every child born or adopted after January 1, 2021


Paid bereavement leave

for Associates suffering losses of immediate family members


Reducing Associates’ health care expenses

Lower biweekly payroll deductions (6–10%) for all 2021 Kaiser and Anthem medical plans


Supporting the birth of new families

Infertility benefits through our new partner Progyny


Support for our associates through difficult times

Short-term disability for all benefits-eligible Associates not covered by state disability programs

In most cases, this means that Associates will receive 60% of their pay for up to 6 months if they are unable to work as a result of a qualifying disability.

Equity, Inclusion & Diversity

The events of 2020 strengthened our resolve to make sure that our employees from diverse backgrounds are represented, championed and supported.

VCA has further stepped up and pledged its commitment to Inclusion and Diversity by introducing formal and sustainable initiatives.

In 2020, important leadership councils and groups, including the VCA EI&D Advisory Group, introduced Unconscious Bias Training workshops and strengthened, formed and sponsored partnerships with diversity-promoting industry groups including Pride, National Association for Black Veterinarians and many more.

We also shared the stories of many of our staff from diverse backgrounds—showcasing their profiles and achievements.

We recognize that this is an ongoing commitment and there is always more work to be done. However, we’re proud of the steps we’ve taken in 2020 to make VCA a more diverse and inclusive workplace for all.


Timbrala Marshall

DVM, Director of Veterinary Inclusion & Diversity Programs,
VCA Animal Hospitals

We feel a responsibility to build a more inclusive veterinary profession—better reflecting the diversity of the communities we serve.

In the year ahead, I’m energized by the opportunities we have to continue building a more inclusive veterinary profession through the strong partnerships we have built with organizations like the Multicultural Veterinary Medical Association, Pride VMC, the National Association for Black Veterinarians, and Latinx Veterinary Medical Association.

Equally as important is the work we continue to do with universities across the U.S. to help underrepresented students enter the veterinary profession.

Among the lessons to be learned in 2020, there is a fundamental need to promote Inclusion & Diversity in a meaningful and sustained way. We need to make progress now to ensure change for the next 30 years so that those who follow us—my children and your children—will have a proud story to tell.

Todd Lavender
DVM, President,
VCA Animal Hospitals and Petcare Services

VCA, Better Together

In 2020, we joined the Better Together Fund, a public charity with Mars Veterinary Health, by Associates for Associates, that offers financial support in response to natural disasters, domestic violence, and COVID-19. Proof that in times of crisis, the love and commitment our team has for one another truly shines through, which serves as the ultimate reminder that we truly are better together.

100% of funds go to Associates in need

Tax-free grants of

Thank you from the bottom of my heart for what you have done for me and my family. It means more to me than you know! My pups say thank you too!”

Associate who received a Better Together Fund grant in the wake of flooding in Louisiana.

Veterinary Technicians,
We Appreciate You!

At VCA, technicians are at the core of each of our hospitals. We are proud of their commitment to the team and the way they ensure that each pet receives the best care possible.

And we heard our teams’ requests for more learning and growth opportunities. That’s why we’ve put more new initiatives in place and continue to actively support existing ones. These include the VCA Technician and Assistant Career Development Program, Penn Fos​ter Veterinary Technician Associate Degree program scholarships, more competency‑based development programs for new leadership hires, and NAVTA memberships!

Supporting Our Technician Teams

Our veterinary technicians and supervisors underpin our most important function—serving our patients and clients. They work hard and we are grateful for all that they do; we made sure to match this gratitude in actionable ways that would further improve their work lives!

We’ve created the Regional Technician Director (RTD) positions to further support our technician supervisors. This not only fills a leadership gap, it allows for better sharing between technicians and assistants for improved patient care—through team and career development, mentorship, learning opportunities and more!

Women in STEM: Represent!

It’s no secret that women have long been underrepresented in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) workforces—but VCA and Mars are actively working to change that. There’s no better place to start than by championing the women who are truly integral to making VCA the leader in pet care and innovation. Meet a few of our STEM superstars and learn about what motivates them.

Anne Kimmerlein, DVM, MPVM, DACVPM

Board Certified Epidemiologist

Every day we serve thousands of patients and collect data that gives us better insights in how we can advance the practice of veterinary medicine and improve pet health. I’m in charge of that effort and it’s my dream job! Bringing data to life, I assist veterinarians, residents and interns with their clinical research, advise hospitals on infectious and zoonotic disease prevention and control, and work with my industry-leading colleagues in the Mars Veterinary Health patient safety and quality groups.

Carolyn Spivock, RVT

Director, Technician & Assistant Development

Veterinary technicians and assistants are a valued and essential part of our teams, and my goal is to create positive change for them. I focus on supporting and empowering them through training in advanced patient care skills, developing educational resources, introducing professional opportunities, encouraging leadership development and enhancing their career paths. Together we explore the experiences of our patients, clients and teams to validate and improve everyone’s journey.

Christine Crick, RVT, VTS (Anesthesia/Analgesia) (ECC)

Director of Specialty Technicians, VCA Medical Operations

As a new member of the Medical Operations team, my focus is on advanced clinical nursing and leadership development in our specialty and emergency hospitals. My goal is to craft a long‑term, clinically satisfying succession for veterinary technicians and assistants that looks to the future and addresses the unique needs in our specialty and emergency hospitals.

Meet the 2020 VCA NEXT Champions

The VCA NEXT competition engages our brightest and most talented minds. Associates submit ideas in a range of categories, such as, “What can VCA do to have a greater social impact?” Submissions are judged on three criteria: Impact, Scalability and Originality. Finalists develop their ideas with mentors and present to VCA founders and an executive panel. Check out the impressive winners and their great ideas!

+1,800 ideas

+185 Associates
in final round

in prizes


First-Place Tie • $10,000

Heather Burwell

Heather, Hospital Manager at VCA Midwest Veterinary Referral & Emergency Center, devised an emergency employee assistance fund—financed by fellow Associates and matched by VCA!

First-Place Tie • $10,000

Haley Sellers

Haley, Veterinary Assistant at VCA Loomis Basin Veterinary Clinic, recommended a new charting system, allowing Associates to see a patient’s full and current medical history in advance of an appointment.

Second Place • $5,000

Kurt Wakem

Kurt, Hospital Manager at Matthews Animal Hospital, suggested that patients waiting long hours in VCA emergency hospital waiting rooms for non‑emergency situations be diverted to the nearest VCA hospital using WOOFware technology.

Third Place • $2,500

Dr. Amanda McCasland

Dr. McCasland, Veterinarian at VCA Woodland Central Animal Hospital, proposed that an audio or video translation service for non-English speakers to use during appointments be added to the VCA app.

Leadership and

Read More