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County’s very devoted vet

At 74, Bogan hopes to pass his legacy to a new generation

By Chuck Hunt - Editor | Aug 22, 2021

Dr. Robert Bogan, Faribault County’s sole veterinarian, stands in front of his clinic, the Makotah Veterinary Center in Blue Earth, above. Bogan, who is now 74 years old, has hopes of retiring soon. However, he does not want to leave the county without a veterinarian. As a result, he has decided to give away his clinic to a promising young veterinarian who agrees to set up their practice in Blue Earth upon Bogan’s retirement.

People retire at different ages. Some retire at 62, some at 65. Others retire younger than that, and some keep on working until they are much older – for a variety of reasons.

Dr. Robert (Bob) Bogan, the veterinarian at Makotah Veterinary Center in Blue Earth, is 74 and still serving the community.

“I am ready to retire, although I do like what I do,” he says. “And I don’t want to leave the community without veterinarian services.”

Dr. Bogan is the only veterinarian in the county.

“I guess I don’t want people to have to haul their dogs and cats to wherever to get to a veterinarian,” he says. “It would be inconvenient. And livestock can’t really be easily hauled. So I want to see a local veterinary service be available here, in the county.”

Bogan has tried to sell his veterinary clinic since 2017, advertising it in the American Veterinary Association Journal, on websites, at veterinary colleges and in the local area.

“I got maybe one call a year,” he says. “And not really any applications, or anyone to come and see it.”

The issues are that it is now a one-veterinarian operation and really needs at least two, and it is located in a small town in a rural area, he explains.

“They don’t want to do after hours work, no all-night on-call for emergencies,” Bogan says. “They want 9 to 5 and no weekends. Even if they just do dogs and cats, they do not want to work nights and weekends.”

So now, Dr. Bogan has decided to give his practice away, for free, just so it can continue and the Faribault County area would still have a veterinarian close by.

“I have been working with the Blue Earth EDA (economic development authority) and Amy Schafer (the EDA specialist),” Bogan says. “I am very appreciative of what Amy has done, and Mary Kennedy (previous EDA specialist) did also, to get where it is at now.”

The EDA helped get the dean of veterinary medicine from Iowa State University to come to Blue Earth with two students to tour Dr. Bogan’s practice.

“They both decided to not consider a practice like this for their careers,” Bogan said. “But it was a start.”

Dr. Bogan admits one reason they were not interested was that his office does not have “all the bells and whistles.”

“For instance our X-ray machine is one we got from the hospital,” he says. “We don’t take enough X-rays to warrant a $35,000 investment in a new digital one.”

However, finally there has been some new interest in the free deal Bogan is offering.

It was Schafer from the EDA, Bogan explains, who was acquainted with Boyd Huppert of KARE-11 TV in the Twin Cities and convinced him to come to Blue Earth to do a feature on Dr. Bogan for Huppert’s ‘Land of 10,000 Stories’ segment on the TV station.

“Amy had to twist my arm – really hard ­- to convince me to let Boyd Huppert do a story on us,” Bogan says with a smile. “I am not the kind of person who likes to be in the spotlight.”

But between Huppert becoming ill, and Dr. Bogan’s busy schedule, it was a year before the story was filmed and was on television.

“They did a nice job,” Bogan says. “They were very considerate of my schedule and it was a pleasant day when they were here.”

It did the trick, too, with Dr. Bogan reporting that about nine resumes have been received from interested current and future veterinarians.

“Some are graduated and others are second, third and fourth year students,” Bogan says. “Now we are trying to set up a Saturday in September when they can come here, see the practice and we can meet with them.”

There has been one other interested person recently. Veterinary student Leyton Becker spent the summer interning at the Makotah Veterinary Clinic.

“Leyton is from Northrup, and his dad is a big pig farmer,” Bogan says. “Leyton was here for two months and he is an outstanding person. But he does have three more years of school left.”

Dr. Bogan says it would be great if he could find one or two people interested in the clinic in the next year or so. And then, Becker could also join the practice three years from now, if he still is interested. If there were three vets, they could share the work load, Bogan adds.

When Dr. Bogan first came to Blue Earth in 1974, he became the third veterinarian on staff at Makotah Veterinary Service.

Bogan was born and raised in State Center, Iowa, and graduated from West Marshall High School in State Center.

“I went to Iowa State University, in Ames, just 30 miles from home,” he recalls. “I did two years pre-vet there, then four years of veterinary school and graduated in May of 1971.”

Iowa State is where he met his wife, Kay, who was a student there and was majoring in elementary education.

“Kay graduated on Feb. 27, 1971, and we were married the next day, Feb. 28, 1971,” Bogan says with a smile. “We lived in student housing until I graduated in May of 1971.”

The couple moved to Osage, Iowa, where Dr. Bogan became the third veterinarian in a clinic there.

“Kay, who is Lutheran, took a job teaching in the Catholic school there,” Bogan says, with a chuckle. “We were there two years.”

But one of the other vets had a son who had just graduated and become a veterinarian and was going to join the practice, so Bogan had to look for a new place.

“I wanted to go to another three person practice, preferably near Ames,” Bogan says. “But that didn’t happen. Instead we came to Blue Earth, in June of 1973. We bought a house for $16,500, and we still live in that house. Of course, we added on to it, and made many changes since then.”

Dr. Bogan joined Dr. John Landman and Dr. Florian Ledermann at the clinic in Blue Earth.

Dr. Ledermann left in 1980 when his wife developed MS and the couple moved to their hometown of Alexandria. Dr. Bernie Malone came here in January of 1982.

Dr. Landmann left in 1984 and semi-retired and served on the State Board of Animal Health for 10 years, helping eradicate pseudo-rabies.

There have been one or two young vets who have joined the staff for a year or two.

“We have also had some vet techs here over the years,” Bogan says. “Cheryl Owens was in the first graduating class at the college in Waseca, and they (the college staff) came and begged us to take one of their graduating techs. We weren’t sure what we were going to do with a vet tech, but we hired one.”

That was in 1974 and Owens is still working at Makotah Veterinary Service to this day.

“She does lots of things, and is very talented,” Bogan says. “So it turned out to be a good deal for us.”

There are two other vet techs working at the clinic currently, and both are Blue Earth Area High School grads. Brianna Ziegler has been there five years and Adree Gustafson has been there four years.

Bogan says he is blessed to have a great staff to work with, and has always liked what he does, and is happy he came to Blue Earth 48 years ago. But it is getting to be time to retire, he adds. Kay taught Early Childhood/Family Education at BEA for 21 years. She still goes to daycares and gives lessons to little kids, Bogan says.

“If we retire, we would definitely spend more time with our kids and grandkids,” Bogan says. “We only see them once in a while now, and only for a little time.”

The Bogans’ son, Matt, is an ER doctor in Woodbury. His wife, Becky, is a nurse. The couple has two sons, Jonah, 10, and Jacob, 8. Daughter Michelle Brown is a physical therapist in Clive, Iowa, near Des Moines. Her husband, Andy, works in carpentry. They have one son, Caleb, who is 8.

To visit either family, the Bogans leave at 6 a.m. and head either north or south for two and a half hours, visit until 3 p.m. or so, and then head home.

Dr. Bogan calls those occasional one day trips “taking a vacation,” adding it would be nice to have a little more time for it.

Hopefully that will happen, especially if a couple of veterinarians come to Blue Earth and enjoy living and working here as much as Dr. Bogan has.