For four years, Dr. Cherri Trusheim worked at the veterinary equivalent of Harborview Medical Center’s emergency room, providing critical care for animals that were in very bad shape. The experience left her feeling sorry not just for her patients but for their owners.
“The specialty care clinic I worked at is expensive. I’ve seen some people take out a second mortgage on their house… It just didn’t feel good anymore,” said Trusheim. “Just because you can’t afford chemo for your dog doesn’t mean you don’t love your dog.”
Disenchanted and emotionally exhausted, the 13-year veteran of veterinary medicine decided to strike out on her own and “do it my way.”
Trusheim has opened Urban Animal near Broadway and Madison, a clinic she hopes will serve as a new, more affordable model for veterinary care.
“We want to provide pet owners with options, regardless of funds,” Trusheim explained in the waiting area when we visited recently. “We will treat what’s wrong and nothing more. We’re not going to try to push someone to do something they don’t want.”
“You have to feel good about yourself at the end of the day,” added Taya Maes, who is the clinic’s office manager and Trusheim’s wife. The two met eight years ago while working at another veterinary clinic in Seattle.
Urban Animal, by the way, is a CHS advertiser.
Unlike most doctors’ offices — for pets or people — Urban Animal is open nearly every day (closed Wednesday) and does not require an appointment. The basic exam fee is $45. Trusheim says UA’s prices for tests such as blood panels are cheaper than comparable clinics.
“I think you have to have a personal conversation. For example, not every pet needs an MRI,” said Trusheim, who offered another scenario: If an owner can’t afford a major surgery to treat a terminal condition, we would be frank with the owner and explore ways to keep the pet comfortable and keep the quality of life. It’s about looking at the whole picture and not being rigid about it.
Urban Animal’s compassionate brand extends to the clinic’s soothing interior. Inside the four exam rooms, old family pet photos – purchased at estate sales – adorn the walls. Vintage medical cabinets and chairs, recycled wood and warm orange paint round out the rest of the décor.
“We don’t want this to be a scary place,” said Trusheim. “We want it to feel comfortable, but not cheesy.”
This is Trusheim’s first business venture. She admits it is more than a little intimidating to have to figure everything out. But she is confident it will work out.
“If you believe in what you’re doing, the money will follow,” she said. “It’s about doing it the way that makes sense to me.”
You can learn more at urbananimalnw.com.
More Capitol Hill pet-focused businesses:
- Mud Bay has moved onto Broadway and can also be found on E Thomas (CHS advertiser)
- The Feed Bag and boutique Happy Endings also cater to Capitol Hill pets and their friends
- Downtown Doggy Lounge and Rex (CHS advertiser) offer grooming and goods
- The Capitol Hill Animal Clinic on 15th Ave E and 12th Ave’s Broadway Veterinary Clinic are also there to lend a paw
- City Cat Mobile Vet (web site) and Cosmic Home and Pet (web site) are two of many mobile pet-related providers in the neighborhood. Holler in comments if you’d like to add your Hill business to the roster.