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Women-owned business Vetted embraces preventive pet health care 

The experience of taking home a new pet can be anxiety inducing for new pet parents as they navigate vet appointments, pet health and wellness and preparing for emergencies. So, pet parents Maya Shaposhnik Cadena and Ashley Brooks created Vetted, a pet parent support system that provides affordable resources, education and advice to help members be more confident caring for their pets.   

What started through an entrepreneurship class at The University of Chicago Booth School of Business blossomed into a mutual love for preventative health. Cadena and Brooks were the only women in their entrepreneurship class and bonded over pet health and what they can do to keep their pets from excessive vet visits.  

“The love story for Vetted is that the idea and the whole space started in preventative health for pets,” Cadena said. “This idea of, ‘Why do we always have to wait for emergencies? Why do we have to always wait for accidents? Are we in a place today where we can prevent a lot of those things from occurring?’”  

Cadena’s interest for pet care came from her sister who served in the canine unit in the military and had an “inseparable relationship” with her dog Fedor. He passed quickly due to cancer, but Cadena believes it could have been avoided if preventative blood work was done early on.   

“I wanted to find a co-founder that was as obsessed with pets and their role that they play in our life and keeping them with us as long as possible,” Cadena said.  

Brooks adopted her four-year-old cat Neko to discover she had health issues such as chronic diarrhea, vomiting and was severely underweight. Neko was just five pounds and Ashley could see her ribs. Brooks sensed a huge responsibility and wanted to improve Neko’s health by taking her to vets, feeding her probiotic supplements and running tests.  

“I didn’t even have the opportunity to take care of her preventative health when I first got her,” Brooks said. “That’s what most pet parents get to experience is they have an opportunity before something gets bad to actually take care of their pets’ preventative health, so my perspective was that ‘Wow, I really wish someone had taken care of her preventative health in the four years before I got her.”  

Despite their love for pets, Cadena and Brooks noticed problematic behaviors and lack of affordability within the preventative pet space that needed to be addressed. The co-founders noticed a lack of education on how to properly care for pets using a preventative method.   

Being in the pet space, Cadena said preventative health is crucial for all breeds, but there are some breeds like French Bulldogs where one can see quick deterioration when avoiding preventative care.   

The co-founders created the Vetted mobile app designed to remind members of upcoming vet appointments, access 24/7 advice from a trusted vet professional and receive education and advice on pet parenting and covering emergency care exam fees. Vetted was created from a pet parent’s standpoint but is backed by a team of vets that focus on five main preventative pillars to ensure a pet’s health and wellness. The pillars include dental care, skin, grooming, digestive care and mental health.   

“Sometimes we don’t realize how much we can impact our pets’ lives from home through these different preventative tactics,” Cadena said. “We created [pillars] from a pet parents’ standpoint, but 100% led by a team of veterinarians that said there’s actually five specific pillars that you can focus on at home and you could prevent a lot of these ER cases and unnecessary vet visits.”  

Ashley Brooks and Maya Shaposhnik Cadena created Vetted, a pet parent support system that provides affordable resources, education and advice to help members be more confident caring for their pets. |Declaro

One of the limitations the co-founders noticed in the pet realm is the excessive use of the term “pet owners.” Brooks compared the term “ownership” to owning a car, where the owner changes the oil and washes the car, but neither of those are covered by car insurance.   

The way we feel about it is that the term ownership is kind of the problem with the entire industry because it’s from that feeling of ownership, that term ownership is what impacts the way that we care for our pets,” Brooks said. “Only accidents are covered by car insurance. In the same way with pet insurance, you see them only covering accidents and illnesses, but nothing that would prevent those accidents and illnesses.”  

Like the co-founders, pet parents have questions they need answers to without feeling judgment or guilt of being a bad pet parent.   

“Our mission is to empower pet parents to give the highest standard of care to their pets,” Cadena said. “We believe that if the pet parent knows, then they will do what’s best for their pet.”  

Vetted recently partnered with local business Pups Pet Club to offer complete preventative care from A to Z. On Nov. 1, Vetted launched a modern preventive health clinic within the Pups Pet Club in River North to ensure healthy routine wellness visits.  

“It’s a very educational and enlightening experience, and the doctor will do blood work, vaccines, exams, microchipping allergy management and then we’ll teach you what you need to do at home in between the vet visit,” Cadena said. “We’re the vet clinic that doesn’t want you to keep coming back for things that could be prevented.”  

Danya Proud, director of marketing for Pups Pet Club, said that the Vetted team’s passion for helping pet parents on their journey is taking the industry by storm.   

“I think in today’s world where many people’s pets, myself included that’s all our kids, we do anything and everything to really give them the best possible life they can live,” Proud said. “Vetted is clearly ahead of the game here, and really taking this industry by storm as far as trying to make this a priority for parents all across the nation.”  

Proud said it’s important to not only support locally owned businesses, but women-led businesses.   

“When you have a business that was founded in the city of Chicago, it’s so important and critical to the success of all parts that we give back and partner with communities, friends and families,” Proud said. “When you’re partnering with people with such passion like Maya, Ashley, Brandi [Jackson], Katie [Chua] and the rest of the team, that’s infectious.”  

The vetted founders are currently planning on opening one of their modern pet clinics in New York and expanding their Chicago operations.  

“I think [we’re] really building a community, which we’re really passionate about. A community of supportive pet parents that are there for each other through the good times and the bad, and then have these incredible veterinary professional teams that are in it with them for the long haul,” Cadena said.  

To learn more about the Vetted membership and accessing educational resources, you can visit the Vetted website and app.   

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