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Move Over James Herriot
Dr. Jan Pol’s the vet for the reality TV generation
Dr. Jan Pol with a patient.

In recent years, we’ve been hearing about a shortage of large animal veterinarians. As of last fall, nearly 1,300 counties did not have a single doctor for farm animals, according to the American Veterinary Medical Association, and the problem was expected to get worse.

I’m thinking the unlikely television star of National Geographic Wild’s “The Incredible Dr. Pol,” might help to reverse the trend. Think of him as a sort of Dutchman-in-America-James-Herriot for the reality TV generation.

A 69-year-old small and large animal vet in private practice in Central Michigan, Dr. Jan Pol brings an engagingly cantankerous manner to his work. He can be brusque and even a little biting, especially when he teases his city-slicker son Charles, but you never doubt that he’s a truly compassionate, committed vet.

Whether he’s untwisting a cow’s stomach or yanking quills out of a hound dog’s muzzle (there are so many quills you have to wonder if the porcupine had any left), Dr. Pol gets the job done with a minimum of drama, which somehow makes for really good TV.

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Lisa Wogan lives in Seattle and is the author of, most recently, Dog Park Wisdom.

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Photo: National Geographic Wild.

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