75-year-old veterinarian loved his rural community so much that he didn’t retire without a replacement
Dr. Robert Bogan is the only veterinarian at Faribault County, Minnesota. He had been trying to attract his replacement for five years, and after offering to give away his practice, he finally found a successor.
Bogan, 75, describes it as a weight lifted off his shoulders. As the county’s only vet for 49 years, he didn’t want to retire without finding his replacement.
However, doing so proved to be more challenging than he thought because most students didn’t want to have any on-call shifts, deal with large animals, or run their own business.
After five years of looking for someone to take his place, Bogan decided to give away his practice—building and all—to make the offer more enticing.
“I’ve never ever heard of somebody doing what Dr. Bogan is doing,” said Blue Earth City Administrator Mary Kennedy. “People don’t give their businesses away.”
Kare 11 featured a story last summer about Bogan’s offer, and it spread far and wide on Facebook.
10 young vets and vet students expressed their interest in the following days. Eight of them traveled to Blue Earth to meet Bogan and tour the town, and five of those submitted formal applications.
From the roster of applicants, Bogan selected Dr. Zach Adams, who graduated from the vet school at Iowa State University in 2021.
“It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” the new veterinarian said. “I came here and realized it was a good fit.”
Adams was in North Carolina serving his veterinary residency when he saw the story of Bogan’s offer posted on his vet school’s Facebook page.
“I was like, that sounds like something I could do,” he thought.
Adams grew up on a hobby farm near Preston, Iowa, a town with about 900 residents.
“It’s very similar to where I grew up, so it feels kind of like home,” he said of Blue Earth.
Adams is also a “die-hard Vikings fan” who has always wanted to live in Minnesota, which also “kind of helped push the way” for him to take over the practice.
The doctor had hoped to run his own mixed animal veterinary practice at some point in his career, but he didn’t expect it to come this soon.
In January, Adams started working with Bogan with an ownership transition planned over the next year or so.
Bill Rosenau, a Faribault County farmer and banker, thinks that Adams is “going to fit in very well in Blue Earth.”
“Dr. Bogan is doing this out of the goodness of his heart,” Adams said. “He loves this community. He loves this industry. He wants to find the perfect match to fit into this community. He wants me to be that guy, and I don’t see why not.”
Small rural communities across the country often suffer from a lack of vets. As a county economic development authority member, Rosenau was among those working to find a new veterinarian for Blue Earth.
Like many farmers in the county, he had feared Bogan would eventually retire without a replacement.
“To get somebody to come out and do onsite work would have been almost impossible because they would have been over an hour away,” he said.
Since the veterinarian moved to Blue Earth, residents have been taking steps to make sure Adams feels the love, including a welcome from a pizza delivery person during his first week there.
“I think most people know what house he bought, are excited to see him, are excited to meet him,” said Kennedy.
Bogan’s offer to give away his practice included his Blue Earth clinic building, equipment, furniture, his 11-year-old Ford pickup, and even Annie, the office cat. The feline is written into the contract that Adams signed.
Leyton Becker, a second-year University of Minnesota vet student who interned with Bogan last summer, had initially expressed interest in assuming the practice. However, he eventually decided he was too early in his schooling to commit.
Becker met Adams during his visit to Blue Earth and said he’s open to the possibility of working with him in the future.
“He’s a great guy and I could totally see myself working with him,” Becker said.
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