Part 1 of 2-part story
By TIFFANY RONEY
Abilene veterinarian Kent Law plays a role in a greyhound industry practice that, in conjunction with veterinarians and breeders across the nation, has changed the industry standard worldwide.
A new way to breed
Thirty years ago, it was popular for greyhound owners to breed their dogs naturally or inseminate with fresh semen and rarely use frozen semen. Now, frozen surgical insemination, or FS, is the most popular way to breed greyhounds.
“It offers an alternative to natural breedings, and also, they have access to more stud dogs because they’re shipped in here from all over the United States, so they don’t have to travel,” Deon Parsons, co-owner of Symbioun, Inc., Law’s office, said.
Though FS makes it possible for studs, or male dogs, to stay in their hometowns, some dog owners send their female dogs across state lines to clinics like Symbioun for semen implants.
“It certainly has affected the daily activities of the breeders because it gives them greater access to the dogs they want,” Gary Guccione, executive director of National Greyhound Association, said. “Stud dogs that were always in high demand were often hard to get to because they would be already booked up, so you had to settle for a lesser dog. Now, they can almost always get the dog of their choice.”
On Monday morning, Law used FS to implant semen from a stud in Australia to a female from Iowa on his operating table in Abilene. Law said he has received dogs from Canada and every state in the U.S. except Hawaii. He has implanted semen from Australia, Ireland, Germany and France.
“He does an excellent job on the breeding – we breed our females and we always get puppies,” Ana Nava, helper of Wayne R. Ward Inc. Kennel, said.
Nava brought greyhound Gale WW Spanish to Law for him to collect serum for a progesterone test. After drawing progesterone from Spanish’s neck, Law sent the serum to Salina Regional Health Center for an inspection. In the afternoon, Law and his team would receive the results and FS find out whether or not Spanish was ready to breed a new litter.
“That way, they know they exact time when they need to be bred,” Nava said. “It’s pretty neat, actually.”
FS not only spans countries and continents, but also decades. Marc Parsons, assistant business manager at Symbioun, said their team has used semen that is 30 years old. Thanks to the freezing power of liquid nitrogen, sperm from racing champions that have long since passed is available for breeding any day.
Law cited convenience and accessibility as the primary reasons for FS becoming the way 90 percent of breedings are accomplished. In addition to allowing dogs
halfway across the world from each other to produce a litter without having to ship either dog anywhere, FS allows owners to breed the same stud several times in one day.
One semen collection from one dog may result in 10 breedings. Some of the studs Law breeds have more than 100 vials of semen stored at Law’s office. This stock comes in handy when several females are ready to breed with the same stud on the same day. With natural breeding, that process would be impossible, but with FS, Law can make it happen.
Additionally, Law said natural breeding carries risk of injury from fighting, biting and torn vagina, so FS helps to mitigate those risks. Also, FS affords a higher pregnancy rate than natural breeding. Historically, natural means offered an average conception rate of 60 percent, whereas FS breedings result in conception 95 percent
of the time.
Fresh insemination, on the other hand, requires impeccable timing. Law said it is best to implant fresh semen within a few minutes of its extraction. If the dogs are not in the same location, some breeders add an extender or preservative to the semen, chill the vial and Fed-Ex it overnight. Law said the results with fresh chilled semen are not nearly as effective, though, as with FS.
Local greyhound racer Vince Berland’s dog, Flying Penske, is the No. 1 sire in the country, according to National Greyhound Association. Law said he has used FS to breed Flying Penske hundreds of times.
Howard Browning, trainer of Heartland Farm, brings in the same dog – Pat C Clement, a former racer – for a semen draw every Monday morning. Pat raced until age 5 and then began life as a stud dog. He is now 9 years old.
Clement’s owner, Pat Collins, keeps some of Clement’s semen for his own dogs and sells the rest.
“He was a solid grade-A,” Browning said. “(His pups) are just starting to hit the track now. He’s got some nice runners on the ground.”
See Monday’s edition of the Reflector-Chronicle for part two of this two-part story.