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Pets First Veterinary Center

San Antonio, TX

About Pets First

Pets First Veterinary Center is a full-service small animal hospital located in San Antonio, Texas, whose skilled team members and strong culture allow them to provide exceptional veterinary care to their diverse community. At Pets First, delivering high-quality care has always been the cornerstone of their practice. That’s why they’ve been accredited by the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) for over a decade. Upholding this accreditation over the years is all thanks to the dedication of the team behind it. Pets First has team members who have been with the practice for upwards of twenty years, allowing them to build trust with their community due to the longevity of their quality of veterinary care. Because of all this, the community has voted the practice as a Nextdoor ‘Neighborhood Fave’ for the fifth time in 2023.

Group photo of veterinary staff in maroon scrubs, smiling inside a clinic.

In 2012, Pets First Veterinary Center was one of the first practices to join the Blue River PetCare community and has since enjoyed growing alongside Blue River and its practices. Medical Director Maria Gonzales, DVM, was with Pets First before the acquisition and notes, “We’ve really enjoyed being a member of the Blue River family and we’ve enjoyed watching it grow. Blue River really has taken a lot of the overhead burden and has really allowed us to focus on the day-to-day.” By taking over the administrative back-end, Pets First’s story continues to be one of focused patient care, strong team culture, and community connection.

Blue River Support

By partnering with Blue River, Pets First Veterinary Center receives support tailored exclusively for their practice, empowering them to focus on what they do best – caring for pets and

maintaining a strong culture. Here are a few of the BRP departments the Pets First team has collaborated with to enhance their animal hospital.


With the support of Blue River’s marketing department, Pets First has amplified its presence to reach more clients within the community through its new website, utilization of social media, and revitalized logo.


Blue River’s Operations team has provided dedicated support to Pets First over the past twelve years. Additionally, their Medical Director and Practice Manager took BRP’s Practice Leadership Workshop to advance their careers and empower the two leaders to apply the knowledge they gained within their hospital to continue thriving.

Talent Acquisition

Sourcing veterinarians isn’t easy. With the help of Blue River’s Talent Acquisition team, recruiters were able to source candidates that fit Pets First tight-knit culture. This led to them hiring their perfect match, ensuring their team is fully staffed to continue providing exceptional care.

Hospital Growth

Through the collaboration with Blue River, Pets First not only upheld its long-standing tradition of excellence but also positioned itself for a future where it can continue to thrive, innovate, and expand its impact on the lives of pets and their owners.

Two veterinarians examining a small black dog in a clinic.

Fostering Team Culture

Because Blue River supports the back-office work for Pets First in areas such as accounting, payroll, HR, and more, they’ve been able to focus on what’s happening within the practice – like fostering a strong team culture. Dr. Gonzales explains, “Our culture has remained the same, maybe even improved, but Blue River really has taken a lot of the overhead burden that has really allowed us to focus on the day-to-day.”

The team’s culture shines beyond the walls of the hospital. Pets First frequently have team outings outside of work to uphold their family-like feel. Whether they are celebrating holidays, sharing meals, or throwing strikes at the bowling alley, you can always find the Pets First team having a great time together. Building this connection among their team has led to long employee tenure and working together to provide exceptional care to their patients.

Collage of group photos from various social and professional gatherings.

Recruiting & Retaining Employees

Like many veterinary hospitals, recruiting doctors can be challenging due to the need for more veterinarians. Luckily, Pets First had the support of BRP’s Talent Acquisition team to help them fully staff the practice so they can provide the best care for their patients. Dr. Gonzales says, “One of our biggest challenges as a practice, just like throughout the industry, has been staffing over the last few years from kennel staff all the way through to doctors. Blue River has been incredibly supportive in the recruiting process and finding those talents and those people that we need, and then in the meantime, helping us build flexibility into our schedule so that we can work with the team that we have and not burn us out and help us continue to remain successful as we’re looking to fill those positions. And we’ve been able to do that with Blue River’s help.”

Prioritizing employee benefits and well-being is equally as important as completing the hiring process. By joining Blue River, Pets First has been able to offer employees benefits that they weren’t previously able to. “One of the positive changes we’ve seen since joining Blue River was the increase in our benefits. Healthcare has definitely broadened and improved. We also have a 401k that we weren’t able to access before, differences in the way we’re able to use and spend our PTO. Just lots of ways to help us focus on ourselves when we need to have really been a benefit of joining Blue River,” mentions Dr. Gonzales. By fostering a strong culture and offering comprehensive benefits to its employees, Pets First can provide fulfilling careers for its team. This has led to longevity, with some team members celebrating their anniversaries of fifteen years or more.

New Online Presence & Revitalized Brand

Although Pets First Veterinary Center had established a loyal clientele within their community, they wanted to ensure their branding matched the essence of what they offer to clients they have yet to reach. Their first step was revitalizing their existing logo. The team felt that the previous logo, which served as a testament to their hospital, needed to be modernized to attract new clients. Practice Manager, Jennifer Hernandez, connected with BRP’s Marketing team to bring their vision to reality. Through some minor adjustments, they now have a logo they love and that feels unique to the team they’ve established.

Next came their online presence, and Hernandez partnered with Blue River’s marketing team to help the practice get the modern website they needed. Hernandez says, “When I first came in, we didn’t have a presence online, so I partnered with the Marketing department and we had the best time just creating and revamping. Blue River did so well laying out the foundation for us and then letting us flourish with it. We now have an amazing, revamped website because of it.”

Pets First Veterinary Center logo transformation animation.

With their revitalized logo and brand-new website, Pets First has also taken to social media to expand their outreach further. They utilize various social channels to showcase their team, and patient care, and foster their connection with current and new clients. In 2022, they launched a TikTok account, @petsfirstvc, to get in front of the next generation of pet owners. The account has amassed over 2,300 followers and more than 716,000 views. Amplifying its online presence and brand allows Pets First to reach potential new clients and continue providing exceptional care to even more patients in the San Antonio community.

Being Part of the BRP Community

Not only does Pets First thrive on team culture within their hospital – they also enjoy being an active member of the BRP community. One way they stay active within the BRP community is by participating in our in-house Clinical Development Programs. Dr. Gonzales and Jennifer Hernandez attended the Practice Leadership Workshop in March 2023 and connected with fellow hospital leaders on best practices and how they navigate leadership within their clinics. Hernandez states, “There were several things that exceeded my expectations for the program. Number one, the camaraderie. Everybody that was in that room had something to say. Usually when you go to conferences, everyone’s really quiet, but it’s almost like being part of a really big family. It was really breathtaking to see everybody come together, it was really nice.”

Additionally, Pets First joins the BRP community by supporting greater causes in the veterinary industry – like Not One More Vet’s annual fundraiser, Race Around the World. See how their team participated in the 2022 Race Around the World and encouraged others to get out and be active with them to show support in the veterinary community.

It’s evident that Pets First enjoys camaraderie. Whether it’s within their practice or among other Blue River PetCare hospitals, their team loves connecting with their peers. Dr. Gonzales says, “My favorite part of being a part of Blue River PetCare is the camaraderie that we have with clinics all over the country. We become friends with other medical directors and practice managers, and it’s great to be just a phone call away from someone who has advice or can share experiences and just socialize sometimes. It’s great to have that community around the country.”

Published 4/1/2024

Focus on Culture

What makes our practice successful is the team atmosphere and culture we have. Blue River has allowed us to focus on our culture, keep the camaraderie alive, and help us motivate our employees to continue to stay with us. Because of that, we have that team and family feeling that we enjoy. It really is a family at Pets First.

Maria Gonzales, DVMMedical Director, Pets First Veterinary Center

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