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A Hospital with Heart
2020 Annual Report

2020 was truly one for the books. Our community rallied during some of the toughest times we may ever face — and we can’t thank you enough. 

During the COVID-19 pandemic, families are increasingly facing challenges like loss of income, housing or food insecurity, or a health crisis. Add an unexpected trip to the veterinarian, and it can often mean a heartbreaking decision between surrendering their furry family member or forgoing their own food, rent, or medications. No one should have to make a decision like that. 

Thanks to our donors who invested in ensuring every pet can receive the care they need, Mission Animal Hospital was able to serve more families and their pets than ever before. In March 2020, we opened our Mission Program subsidized pricing to all those affected by the economic realities of the COVID-19. 

The below report to our community details Mission Animal Hospital’s impact during this unprecedented year.


With much gratitude, 

Dr. Susan Miller
Executive Director



In 2020 Mission Animal Hospital donors helped cover over
$1.1 million in care for pets in low-income families. 

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Wellness Care: Wellness care, offered seven days a week to be more accessible for pet-owners needing care, includes annual check-ups and vaccinations.

  • In 2020, we cared for 7,412 pets for various wellness visits.

  • 60% of those were part of Mission Program

Urgent Care: Open seven days a week, Mission’s Urgent Care program is an essential service working with sick and injured pets that require immediate care. Urgent Care is an alternative to expensive emergency hospitals and we see many cases referred from emergency clinics when the client has limited financial resources.

  • In 2020, we cared for 7,581 pets through urgent care services  

  • 80% of Urgent Care visits were for pets who are part of Mission Program

General Surgery: Our general surgery team provides dental cleanings, spay/neuter services, emergent life-saving procedures such as gastro-intestinal obstructions, and other common procedures.

  • In 2020, we cared for 2,192 patients through general surgery. This includes:  

    • 419 Dental cleanings and extractions

    • 395 Spays/433 Neuters

    • 126 Blocked Cats (urinary obstruction)

Advanced Surgery Practice: Led by our boarded surgeon, this team provides complex orthopedic and soft tissue procedures in-house at reduced rates that are often not accessible to a low-income pet owner. Clients can utilize flexible payment plans if the cost is prohibitive to receiving care.

  • In 2020, we cared for 282 patients through advanced surgery procedures

High-Quality, High-Volume Spay/Neuter: Mission offers this service to over 198 rescue/shelter partners, creating a low-cost option to facilitate adoptions and keep our homeless pet population low.

  • In 2020, we provided this service to 594 pets

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The global pandemic brought unprecedented changes to Mission Animal Hospital at the beginning of 2020. As the virus reached Minnesota, it was clear that our entire community was gravely impacted. We saw thousands within our community laid off, others began working and schooling from home. Many businesses closed their doors during the stay at home orders. Through it all, Mission was deemed an essential service and vowed to expand our Mission Program pricing to anyone who was experiencing wage-impacts from COVID-19. 

In order to keep our clients and our staff safe, we reimagined how we do our work. At the start of the pandemic, we  scheduled our staff in pods, and implemented 100% curbside service where all conversations with a pet owner took place over the phone. Still today, face-to-face client interaction is limited to retrieving and returning the pet. We redesigned our lobby, putting in place plexiglass shields and plastic barriers, while also limiting the number of people in the lobby. 

Throughout the pandemic, demand for reduced cost veterinary care increased to a demand not seen before. This year, record adoptions, and more people home with their pets means an increased need for veterinary services, coupled with the economic realities that many families are facing mean that more families than ever need accessible, affordable, veterinary care that Mission provides.  In fact, a Fall 2020 Marketplace-Edison poll showed that nearly half of American’s can’t afford a $250 emergency. When an unexpected veterinary cost happens, it can mean life or death decisions for some families. With the investment of our donors, this year Mission Animal Hospital is able to say “yes” to more families and keep pets in their homes. 

It delights me to know that there is a place to go for people who can’t afford the care needed for their pets.

— Rachel Jerstad, Mission client and donor



Giving back is part of the Jerstad family tradition. Growing up, Rachel Jerstad’s dad Mark was a doctor of theology and a Lutheran minister who taught his three children the importance of generosity and philanthropy. Before he passed away 24 years ago, he set up the Jerstad Family Foundation as a way to keep his family connected and teach generosity from generation to generation. 


Today, Rachel, along with her daughter Sarah and son Joe, are proud to carry on that tradition by giving back to Mission Animal Hospital. Each year, they select nonprofit organizations that make a substantial difference in the community. They understand the impact that Mission Animal Hospital has on entire families. A cat-loving family (and pet parents to kitties Shilo, Astra, Katniss, and Sagis who has since passed on), Rachel, Sarah, and Joe deeply understand the enrichment that pets add to our lives, and the emotional support they can provide. “At Mission, they not only take care of the pet, but also the pet parent.” 


“We are clients of Mission Animal Hospital, and we bring all of our cats there. We pay full price, as we should,” said Rachel Jerstad, a Mission Animal Hospital donor and client. “It delights me to know that there is a place to go for people who can’t afford the care needed for their pets.”

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Squirrel with Mission vet tech Amber following her life-saving surgery to remove his lower jaw.



Squirrel's dad Randell is a U.S. veteran who moved to the Twin Cities from Mississippi to be closer to his children. He lost his wife recently, and Squirrel, a chihuahua, was his best companion. Several years ago, Randell and his wife took in Squirrel and her siblings Panda and Gizmo as infant foster dogs who lost their mom. “We weren’t going to keep them, but we bottle fed them and fell for them.” Panda and Gizmo were adopted by his daughters, and Randell and his wife kept Squirrel, who was so very special to them. 

Unfortunately, just days after moving to Minnesota, little Squirrel was in an accident that left her jaw badly fractured. Randell was devastated. He couldn't afford the care that Squirrel needed. So he turned to Mission Animal Hospital. 

Squirrel was in bad shape when she arrived, but Mission’s veterinary team moved quickly, and saved her life by removing her lower jaw. Now, she is doing great, and enjoying her best life. 

Randell said of the care that Mission gave to Squirrel: “I would like to thank them very much, it meant the world to me.”



Presented below are Mission Animal Hospital's 2019 financials. The organization's 2020 financials will undergo an independent audit and will be available later this year. 



Taylor Bennett

David Boyce

Jocelyn Hale

PJ Halverson

Todd Lifson

Jennifer Melin Miller

Susan Miller, DVM

Lesley Newhouse

Tom Paulson

Kate Pexa

Anne Pappe, PA

Dr. Rajiv Shah

Beth Rausch, DVM

William Sternberg

David Stillman


Susan Miller, DVM, Executive Director

Kelsey Bertamus, DVM, Hospital Director

Christine Durand, Development Director

Kellie Lager, Human Resources Director

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