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Semen on ice

Article

The world's weirdest ice-skating extravaganza? No. It's canine reproductive work, a profit center for Dr. Patrick Grogan at VCA Woodland East Animal Hospital in Tulsa, Okla.

The world's weirdest ice-skating extravaganza? No. It's canine reproductive work, a profit center for Dr. Patrick Grogan at VCA Woodland East Animal Hospital in Tulsa, Okla. He's been freezing semen for dog breeders since 1987, when his predecessor, Veterinary Economics Practice Management Editor Dr. Ross Clark, bought a deli-style refrigerator and had Dr. Grogan trained in the technique.

But getting dogs excited around bitches in heat and throwing the proceeds in a chilly test tube isn't big bucks. The profit comes when the high-end breeders who want semen frozen come in for healthcare services. "Also, the breeders are supplying pets to high-end clients," Dr. Grogan says. "And they refer those clients to us."

Dr. Grogan says doctors tend to shy away from working with breeders because of disreputable practices or potential personality conflicts. "Because they bring in high volume, breeders may demand fee concessions and challenge the doctor's understanding of their dogs," he says. But that doesn't bother him or his staff members. And, he says, they work with topnotch breeders.

Reproductive services count for just 2 percent of VCA Woodland East's gross revenue, but Dr. Grogan is thrilled with it as a niche program to bring in referrals. Some breeders come in just for reproductive work, but others show real loyalty, he says. "We have breeders who drive hours and hours past hundreds of other veterinarians to get their medical care here," he says.

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