Stephanie Onken

Stephanie Onken

July 10, 2017

About Sarah Sieben

sara siebenName: Sarah Sieben

How long have you been with VHA? Since March 2008

Tell us about yourself: I attended UW-River Falls before transferring to Argosy University, where I earned my AAS in Veterinary Technology. I became a CVT and worked in a clinic for about four years before coming to VHA. I live on a hobby farm with my husband, Evan; 2 steers; 10 chickens; mini-dachshund, Oliver; and cat, Summit. Outside of work, I like to travel, ski, workout, and ride our Harley.

What's one interesting fact about you that very few know? I shoot trap every summer and I am in a league with my dad and brother.

If you could have one superpower, what would it be and why? Fly!

What's one thing you like about working at VHA? My co-workers!

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stephanie duncanName: Stephanie Onken

How long have you been with VHA? Since August 2015

Tell us about yourself: I graduated from the University of Minnesota, Crookston in 2010 with degrees in Communication and Business Management with minors in Marketing. Before VHA, I was the Marketing Coordinator for a well-known business author, TV host, and global speaker. I share my home with two daughters, one cat (Peanut) and one pit bull mix (Bison). I enjoy thrift shopping, cooking, spending time outdoors, and trying new wine.

What's one interesting fact about you that very few know? My siblings and I are adopted, and I came home on my adopted mother's birthday, and my sister came home on my birthday!

If you could have one superpower, what would it be and why? Teleportation. It would be great to go places quickly without fighting traffic or spending hours on the road.

What's one thing you like about working at VHA? I love the people. The VHA team is fantastic, and our members are diverse, fun, and dedicated to their patients, teams, and industry!

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July 10, 2017

About Erin Potts

erin potts 2017Name: Erin Potts

How long have you been with VHA? Since April 2015

Tell us about yourself: I carry a degree in Business Administration with a minor in Public Relations, and I come with several years of bookkeeping experience. I had planned for a career following my work during college in Sports Information, working on player bios, press releases, and stats.  As it often happens, even the best-laid plans can change. That change brought me to Minnesota 12 years ago to begin my diverse career path. Over that decade, I’ve worked for an Office Supply Company, an Event and Tour Company, a Hardware Manufacturers Representative Company, and a chain of Assisted Living Facilities. I’ve worn many hats in my past positions and bring experience in Marketing, Customer Service, Human Resources, Warehouse Management, and Event Planning. The single aspect of all my jobs that has remained constant, and that I greatly enjoy, is Business and Financial Management.

I have been married for 11 years to my college sweetheart Michael. We have two bright and beautiful children that keep us running and laughing constantly. Our family rounded out with two loving fur babies as well, our cats Lady Kay and Lucas Mathew. Even though I am a born and raised Wisconsinite, we have made our home here in Minnesota over the past 12 years, but do not fear I'm still a Buckey fan and luckily my kids are too!

What's one interesting fact about you that very few know? My brother and I are exactly four years apart in age with birthdays on the 12th and 14th, his children are exactly three years apart with birthdays a day apart, and my children are exactly three years apart with birthdays a day apart as well.

If you could have one superpower, what would it be and why? To move at the speed of light so I could still do everything I want to do even when I don't have enough time.

What's one thing you like about working at VHA? I love meeting and working with all the great people I have come to know here at VHA both our staff and our awesome members!

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July 10, 2017

About Melissa Munce

melissa munce circleName: Melissa Munce

How long have you been with VHA? Since June 2012

Tell us about yourself: I served business through audit, tax, and business consulting as a CPA for seven years.  I have been a controller for various businesses for 15 years.  I am married with two college-aged children and two small dogs.

What's one interesting fact about you that very few know? I play the piano.

If you could have one superpower, what would it be and why? Transportation. I hate commuting.

What's one thing you like about working at VHA? Without fail - every single employee is 110% dedicated to helping the veterinary community.

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July 10, 2017

About Jeff Benson

jeff benson headshot vha circleName: Jeff Benson

How long have you been with VHA? Since August 2011

Tell us about yourself: I am engaged to Cheryl Moline, and I have two daughters (Ashley and Alexandra) and one son (Nick). I also have two dogs (Kona and Amaya). I graduated from Concordia College in Moorhead, MN (my hometown). Prior to VHA, I worked in human healthcare, first as a nursing home administrator and then running a long term care pharmacy. 

What's one interesting fact about you that very few know? I always wanted to own a Dairy Queen because I love ice cream! 

If you could have one superpower, what would it be and why? Flight - so I could see my daughter in Singapore whenever I wanted to. 

What's one thing you like about working at VHA? The people! The VHA staff and the member clinics staff are amazing to be around!

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About the VHA Board of Directors

The VHA Board of Directors consists of elected practice owners chosen by VHA members. They are responsible for overseeing the direction and performance of VHA. The VHA Board of Directors acts in the best interest of all members.

On Tuesday, May 30th, 2017 Governor Dayton vetoed the bill that would have preempted local ordinances in Minneapolis and Saint Paul requiring paid sick and safe leave to employees (Senate File 3).

Your practice is affected by these ordinances if:
  1. You have at least one employee working within the limits of the city of Minneapolis. This includes mobile, housecall or specialty practices providing services only occasionally within the Minneapolis city limits.
  2. Your practice is physically located within the limits of the city of Saint Paul and has at least one employee.
The details of both the Minneapolis and St. Paul ordinances are outlined below, but there are really only two things you must do:
  1. Review your existing policies and make sure they comply with the minimums required.
  2. Post the informational poster (once available) and update your employee handbook.

For practices with at least one employee working within the limits of the City of Minneapolis:

Effective Date: July 1st, 2017

Employers Affected:

  • Employers with six [6] or more employees are required to provide paid sick leave.
  • Employers with fewer than six [6] employees are required to provide unpaid sick leave.
  • Employers are not required to pay out accrued sick leave upon termination, but must restore any unused balance to employees rehired within 90 days of termination.
Employees Affected:
  • All employees working at least 80 hours in one calendar year on a Full-Time, Part-Time or Temporary basis.
Accrual Requirements:
  • Minimum of one [1] hour of sick time is earned for every thirty [30] hours worked.
  • You must allow any unused time to roll over to the successive year.
  • You may cap accrual at a maximum of forty-eight [48] hours per calendar year and eighty [80] hours over multiple years.
  • Accrual must begin immediately upon start of work, but you may deny or restrict use for the first 90 days of employment.
  • Time must be paid at the employee’s standard hourly rate or an equivalent rate for salaried employees.
  • Any accrued but unused sick leave must carry over for the employee in the event of a practice sale.
Employee Access to Time:          
  • Employees have broad discretion in using their sick and safe time.
  • They may use it for personal mental and physical illness, injury, conditions, diagnostic or preventative care.
  • They may use it for family members’ mental and physical illness, injury, conditions, diagnostic or preventative care.
  • They may use it to provide or receive assistance because of sexual assault, domestic abuse or stalking.
  • They may use it to care for a family member whose school or care facility has been closed due to weather or other unanticipated closing.
  • They may use it in increments consistent with industry and employer standards, but such increments should not be more than four hours.
Employer Rights:             
  • You have the right to request documentation of an illness or absence that lasts longer than three [3] days.
  • You have the right to require up to seven [7] days advance notice when the use of this time is expected (planned procedure, known school closing, et al).
Exceptions:       
  • New businesses may provide unpaid sick leave during the first year, regardless of number of employees.
  • Employers with paid leave policies that meets or exceeds the benefits laid out in the ordinance are not required to provide additional sick time.
Employer Duties:            
  • You must display a poster from the Minneapolis Dept. of Civil Rights in a conspicuous place in English and any other language that 5% or more of your employees speak.
  • Your employee handbook must be updated to include a notice of employee rights under this ordinance.
  • You must maintain records for each employee showing accrued and used sick leave and retain them for a minimum of three [3] years beyond the current calendar year.
  • You must make these reports available for inspection by Minneapolis Dept. of Civil Rights employees.
  • Upon employee request, you must provide information stating the employee’s amount of available sick leave as well as used sick leave.
Enforcement:
  • Employees are protected from employer retaliation under the Ordinance.
  • Minneapolis Dept. of Civil Rights will investigate potential violations upon receiving a complaint or having reason to believe a violation has occurred. They will serve notice of investigation, request a statement of position and may request records.
  • Upon violation, the Department may order reinstatement, back pay, credit or payment of sick time and administrative fines.
  • A first offence between July 1st, 2017 and June 30th, 2018 will not incur a financial penalty other than repayment of any leave determined to be owed to the worker.
  • Successive offences or offences occurring after June 30th, 2018 may result in fines and penalties including but not limited to:
    • Reinstatement and back pay
    • Payment of any sick and safe time unlawfully withheld, plus an addition payment to the employee equal to the dollar value of the amount withheld multiplied by two [2] or $250.00, whichever is greater.
    • A one thousand five hundred dollar ($1,500.00) administrative penalty paid to the employee for each violation.
    • Administrative fines paid to the city of up to fifty dollars ($50.00) for each day a violation has continued after written notice of violation.
  • Employers that wish to appeal a determination must do so in writing within the first twenty-one [21] days after service of the determination.

For practices physically located in Saint Paul and with at least one [1] employee:

Effective Date:

  • July 1st, 2017 for employers with twenty-four [24] or more employees
  • July 1st, 2018 for employers with fewer than twenty-four [24] employees
Employers Affected:      
  • All employers physically located in the city of Saint Paul, regardless of number of employees.
Employees Affected:    
  • All employees working at least 80 hours in one calendar year on a Full-Time, Part-Time or Temporary basis.
Accrual Requirements:
  • Minimum of one [1] hour of sick time is earned for every thirty [30] hours worked.
  • You must allow any unused time to roll over to the successive year.
  • You may cap accrual at a maximum of forty-eight [48] hours per calendar year and eighty [80] hours over multiple years.
  • Accrual must begin immediately upon start of work, but you may deny or restrict use during the first 90 days of employment.
  • Time must be paid at the employee’s standard hourly rate or an equivalent rate for salaried employees.
  • Any accrued but unused sick leave must carry over for the employee in the event of a practice sale.
Employee Access to Time:          
  • Employees have wide discretion in using their sick and safe time.
  • They may use it for personal mental and physical illness, injury, conditions, diagnostic or preventative care.
  • They may use it for family members’ mental and physical illness, injury, conditions, diagnostic or preventative care.
  • They may use it to provide or receive assistance because of sexual assault, domestic abuse or stalking.
  • They may use it to care for a family member whose school or care facility has been closed due to weather or other unanticipated closing.
  • They may use it in increments consistent with industry and employer standards, but such increments should not be more than four hours.
Employer Rights:             
  • You have the right to request documentation of an illness or absence that lasts longer than three [3] days.
  • You have the right to require up to seven [7] days advance notice when the use of this time is expected (planned procedure, known school closing, et al).
Exceptions:       
  • New businesses may provide unpaid sick leave over the first six months after hiring their first employee, regardless of number of employees.
  • Employers with paid leave policies that meets or exceeds the benefits laid out in the ordinance are not required to provide additional sick time.
Employer Duties:            
  • You must give notice to employees that:
    • They are entitled to sick and safe leave, including amounts and terms
    • That employer retaliation is prohibited
    • That employees may file a complaint
  • You may display a poster from the Saint Paul Dept. of Human Rights and Equal Economic Opportunity.
  • Your employee handbook must be updated to include a notice of employee rights under this ordinance.
  • You must maintain records for each employee showing accrued and used sick leave and retain them for a minimum of three [3] years beyond the current calendar year.
  • You must make these reports available for inspection by Saint Paul Dept. of Human Rights and Equal Economic Opportunity employees.
  • Upon employee request, you must provide information stating the employee’s amount of available sick leave as well as used sick leave.
Enforcement:
  • Employees are protected from employer retaliation under the Ordinance.
  • Saint Paul Dept. of Human Rights and Equal Economic Opportunity will investigate potential violations upon receiving a complaint or having reason to believe a violation has occurred. They will serve notice of investigation, request a statement of position and may request records.
  • Upon violation, the Department may order reinstatement, back pay, credit or payment of sick time and administrative fines.
  • Violations may result in fines and penalties including but not limited to:
    • Reinstatement and back pay
    • Payment of any sick and safe time unlawfully withheld, plus an addition payment to the employee equal to the dollar value of the amount withheld multiplied by two [2] or $250.00, whichever is greater.
    • All of the above and an administrative fine of up to one thousand dollars ($1,000.00) paid to the city.
    • All of the above and an administrative fine equal to ten [10] percent of the total amount of unpaid wages or one thousand dollars ($1,000.00), whichever is greater, paid to the city.
    • An administrative fine of up to one thousand dollars ($1,000.00) paid to the Employee for each violation.
    • An administrative fine of up to one thousand dollars ($1,000.00) paid to the City for each violation.
  • Employers that wish to appeal a determination must do so in writing within the first twenty-one [21] days after service of the determination.

If you are a practice affected by these new ordinances, you may be looking for help. Contact VHA Business Services today! We will work onsite at your practice and:

  • Assist you in updating your existing time off policy to meet compliance
  • Draft an updated amendment for your employee handbook
  • Provide you with required tracking and reporting materials1
  • Notify all employees of their new rights
  • Manage all regulated postings
  • Train you and/or your manager[s] on complying with the new ordinance

1 - If you are a current VHA Business Services Payroll client, be aware that a tracking report of all accrued, used and remaining Sick and Safe Time for all employees will be included with your payroll reports beginning July 1st, 2017.


These ordinances create many new obligations for employers, not limited to those mentioned here. This information below is not intended to represent legal advice. If you have specific questions regarding the new Sick and Safe Leave ordinance[s], you are advised to discuss them with your attorney. Information here presented is subject to change without notice.

Leaving a dog in a hot car is dangerous and often deadly.

United Animal Nations (UAN) is imploring pet owners to avoid leaving their dogs in hot cars this summer – a practice that can lead to serious illness and even death. “Often people leave their dogs in the car while they shop or run errands, but doing so when the weather is warm can literally be a death sentence for your pet,” said UAN President and CEO Nicole Forsyth.

May 25, 2017

VHA Brief Survey

VHA values your feedback! Please take our brief survey and as a thank you, you will be entered to win one of 3 $100 gift card and lunch packages for your clinic, compliments of VHA!

Survey closes Thursday, August 31, and winners will be announced Thursday, September 7.


It's every pet owner's worst nightmare - there's an emergency happening and suddenly, in the midst of it all, they've been separated from their pet.

May is home to National Animal Disaster Preparedness Day. It's important for pet owners to have a plan in place for the whole family, including pets, in the case of an emergency or disaster. From storing food and water properly to pet first aid supplies, it's better to have a plan in place and never need it rather than scramble to find what you need as it's happening.

VHA has put together a downloadable checklist of things your clients can utilize to help them be prepared. It includes:

  • Food & Water: Have enough food and water for three to five days. Keep your food in an airtight container and rotate every three months to ensure freshness. If you feed canned food, include a manual can opener. Don’t forget bowls!
  • Medication and Medical Records: Keep your pets updated medication and medical records in a waterproof container. Also include photographs of you and your pet to prove ownership.
  • Pet First-Aid Kit: In addition to a standard first-aid kit, you should also include a nylon leash, self-cling bandages, pet carrier, muzzle, and a pillowcase to confine your cat if needed.
  • Have a Plan: Research pet-friendly hotels or kennels where your pet will stay in case of an evacuation, or exchange information with neighbors, friends, or family and set up a plan in the event that they need to evacuate your pets for you (or you for them).
  • Microchip: Ensure your pet is microchipped and that the registration is up-to-date. It’s the easiest and quickest way to be reunited with your pet in case of separation due to any emergency or disaster.

Help your clients become prepared today by downloading and distributing this complimentary checklist today!

Click to download a helpful Pet Preparedness Checklist, compliments of VHA!

Be Prepared Client Handout

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