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The Scoop on Frozen Semen

by Pilar Kuhn

Modern technology has allowed many of us to keep certain stud dogs available for breeding long after the dogs have lived their lives with the ability to freeze and thaw semen.  Whether the facility stores collections as straws or pellets, one thing is consistent – the inconsistency with clinic policies on ownership, usage and transfer of ownership.  Before you have your dog collected and stored, you should understand every aspect of how the vet or facility will treat your dog’s valuable frozen goods.

One facility may demand that a “Transfer of Ownership” document have all co-owners signatures so that only one person owns the semen outright.  Another facility might determine that the person who brought the dog in and paid for the collection owns the semen, even if that person isn’t an owner or co-owner.  And yet another facility may declare the primary owner is the owner of the semen regardless of any other co-owners at the time.

I called the AKC to inquire about their position on frozen semen disputes. Although the AKC maintains a record of all owners, they do not decide who owns frozen semen nor do they ultimately decide who can use it. The AKC cannot override the policies of the individual reproductive clinics. In fact, they informed me that they do not get involved in co-ownership disputes and would encourage more breeders to not co-own dogs especially because of the variation in policies from reproductive clinics around the country. The AKC’s advice? Understand the policies of the facility that will hold on to and protect your best interests for your breeding assets before you have a dog collected and stored.

Since co-ownerships are rampant within our sport, what happens when a co-owned dog is collected and stored and the co-owner paying storage fees for many, many years one day decides to stop paying for the storage? Or what happens when that co-owner passes away and frozen semen is left in limbo? I heard a disturbing story regarding such circumstances. The dog passed away and the co-owner responsible for paying the storage fee also passed away many years later.  Once the co-owner passed away, the facility storing the semen held on to it, did not destroy it, and did not have to inform the other co-owner that the semen was still at their facility.  In some bizarre happenstance, a person involved with the deceased dog’s breed knew which clinic stored the frozen semen and contacted the facility about using it on a bitch. The vet approved the use of the semen, collected a stud fee, signed the registration paperwork for the litter, and the other co-owner was never “in the know” about the breeding until a catalog revealed an entry of a puppy sired by the deceased dog.  After investigating the matter, she discovered that this particular facility determines on their own what to do with frozen semen when co-owners have a dispute, the bill isn’t paid over a period of time, and no name exists in “Transfer Upon Owners Death”.  Had the still-living co-owner known this in advance, she would have taken further steps many, many years ago to protect her stakes in this dog’s breeding career post-mortem.

Some bits of advice from repro vets around the country:

1)    Always think about the “what-ifs”. Disputes happen. Deaths happen. Plan ahead.

2)    Collect your dog when he is younger. If they do not fully health test, you can destroy the semen, but once the dog is gone, he’s gone.

3)    Collect and store more than you think you would ever want.

4)    It is in your dog’s best interest to be collected at least twice a year for male reproductive health.

No matter where you ultimately decide to store your dog’s frozen semen, you should think beyond your dog’s life and your own. Creating a will to account for these assets as part of your personal estate is extremely important. We spend so much time, effort, and money over the years to build successful breeding programs with influential dogs, consider frozen collections as family heirlooms and protect them.

Short URL: http://caninechronicle.com/?p=17891

Posted by on Mar 16 2013. Filed under Current Articles, Featured, Health & Training, Uncategorized. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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