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Startup hospitals serve furry friends

By OUYANG SHIJIA | China Daily | Updated: 2021-10-13 09:47
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A woman (second from left) helps her pet dog undergo a health check during a pet expo in Wuhan, Hubei province. [Photo/Xinhua]

Beijing entrepreneurs bank on the business as medical services for domestic animals are hard to find

Li Xue was busy searching for an ideal pet hospital for her dog nine years ago.

"Back in 2012, my dog suffered from chronic joint disease and I was taking it to seek medical treatment," Li said. "However, the experience was unpleasant. My pet was not cured. And I found the clinical environment unsatisfactory.

"More importantly, several pet clinics offered differing accounts on disease diagnosis and treatment plans."

Li finally found the right fit: starting her own pet hospital startup. In December 2013, Li's Loving Care International Pet Medical Center was officially launched in Beijing.

For Li, pets are members of the family. So when her furry family member needs medical care, Li is more than willing to do whatever it takes to help her pet dog. She believes a high-quality premium pet clinic is in urgent need for the growing number of pet "parents" in the city.

As expected, Li's Loving Care International Pet Medical Center soon made a name in the market, and her business has been a runaway success.

It took only three months for Beijing-based Loving Care to earn more than 10,000 yuan ($1,547) a month. In just nine months, Li led the team to a break-even point. And in less than two years, Loving Care's annual turnover exceeded 10 million yuan.

With a key focus on offering high-quality specialty pet care services, Loving Care now owns nearly 50 specialty clinics and hospitals in five large cities including Beijing, Shanghai, Hangzhou in Zhejiang province and Chongqing. Loving Care clinics and hospitals welcomed about 230,000 visits in 2020.

Despite the impact of COVID-19, Loving Care witnessed a year-on-year increase in revenue of over 50 percent last year, Li said.

Most of Loving Care's customers are members of younger generations, born in the mid-1980s and 1990s. They're seeking out cats and dogs for comfort and companionship.

"Young people buy pets as cuddly companions and regard pets as family members," Li said. "Once their pets get sick, they are more than willing to spend money to make their pets healthy again."

"Compared to more elderly groups, younger pet owners are more likely to weed out misinformation from the internet. And finding the right online pet health information will also influence pet owners' understanding of their pets' health, while increasing their ability to talk with vets and make proper decisions related to their pets' health."

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