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Credit For Kitties

"Hey," you mutter, "who bought $500 worth of catnip?"

With pets quickly joining the ranks of civilized society, why not give them a little spending power? That was the reasoning behind "credit cards" for pets, offered by Jay Bloom, 33, chairman and CEO of Pet Assure Inc., a pet health-care organization. Along with wife and Pet Assure president Carolyn Farkas, 34, Bloom introduced the Action for Animals Master-Card, which, in addition to its credit-card functions, offers savings with a network of veterinary providers and dealers, and 25 percent savings on veterinary care in the plan. "We're kind of like an HMO for pets," says Bloom.

Bloom has championed the cause of pets before. A former financial officer at Chase Manhattan Bank, he began the Dover, New Jersey-based Pet Assure in 1996, after his dog underwent $3,000 hip surgery, and his then insurance company denied the bill. It called the ailment a "hereditary and genetic condition," and when Bloom looked at the policy's fine print, he found the majority of pet problems weren't covered. "They had pre-existing condition clauses and age limitations," he says. "Pet insurance at the time was woefully inadequate." He also uncovered a huge market: According to the American Pet Products Manufacturers Association, pet owners spend $23 billion per year on their animals.

Four years later, Bloom says his latest effort-the MasterCard-has garnered a tremendous response. Some insurance companies are now building Pet Assure cards into their network provider bases.

Are there more pet-related ideas to come? Most likely. With Pet Assure operating in 46 states with more than 2,000 providers, Bloom points out, "We're the sole national [veterinarian] network. The success of the company comes from our ability to leverage this core asset."


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This article was originally published in the November 2000 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Credit For Kitties.

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