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'The Incredible Dr. Pol' captures record-setting ratings in fourth season

Jan Pol, DVM, continues to practice "old-school" veterinary medicine on reality show many veterinary professionals find subpar.
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Sep 18, 2013
By dvm360.com staff

It’s been a month since the fourth season of “The Incredible Dr. Pol” premiered Aug. 17 on Nat Geo WILD and according to Nielsen Media ratings, the show continues to be the cable channel’s No. 1 series. The Sept. 14 episode hit a P25-54 0.4 rating—apparently the highest rating in Nat Geo WILD’s history.

The website TV by the Numbers says the Saturday night episode more than doubled the network’s Saturday night average delivery with an average of 776,000 viewers over age 2 including 270,000 viewers in the key 25 to 54 age demographic. Viewers tuned in to watch Dr. Jan Pol, DVM, and his non-veterinarian son, Charles, deal with an emergency calving call with a heifer out in the pasture that had gone into labor. Later in the episode, associate veterinarian Brenda Grettenberger, DVM, treated piglets with pneumonia.

Never shown on the reality series was Pol’s 2012 probation involving a pregnant 8-year-old German shorthair patient in 2010. The Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs Bureau of Health Professions Board of Veterinary Medicine found that Pol had failed to accurately read a canine ultrasound, appropriately treat the patient and to maintain and ensure that his staff kept adequate documentation of telephone calls, treatment records and recommendations to record an appropriate case history. He was required to complete continued education regarding small animal reproduction and ultrasound techniques and interpretation. Grettenberger was also placed on probation for the same incident. At the time of Pol’s suspension three of the four veterinarians at Pol Veterinary Services in Weidman, Mich., were on probation including Eric Gaw, DVM, (disciplined for a separate incident) who does not appear on the reality show. All have since met the requirements of the state’s disciplinary actions.

Pol told dvm360 last year that he plans to continue doing the show for the foreseeable future. “You see how many people love the show and learn from it, especially the children,” Pol said.

However, many veterinary health professionals and animal welfare groups dislike that Pol is seen as the televised face of veterinary medicine. They have been outspoken on blogs and other outlets about his approach to veterinary practice, termed “old-school” by the Nat Geo WILD network. “We have veterinarians that claim that what they see is substandard, but they don’t see anything to speak of,” Pol said in an Oct. 2012 interview with dvm360. Pol said as long as his patients are pleased with his work and that of his associates, he doesn’t worry about his critics. “I don’t say anything,” he said. “I let them blow off.”

The season finale is at 10 p.m. ET/PT Sept. 21.