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Allerca looks for 7500 veterinarians
Allerca, the company that genetically engineered an allergy-free cat says it will need veterinary help in certifying its animals, but it comes with a price tag: Veterinarians will be courted to examine a new variety of the British short hair beginning at North American Veterinary Conference in Orlando next month.

Allerca Inc. recently reported it has silenced the gene that produces the encoded allergenic protein Fel d1. Its allergen-free feline will be ready for homes in 2007.

The price point for owners is nothing to sneeze at—$3,500 each. But the cost doesn`t appear to be detouring cat fanciers; Allerca has been receiving more than 500 down payments per day since it unveiled its product in late October. Prospective owners are required a $250 deposit to secure a place in line for what Allerca is calling a lifestyle pet.


The British short hair is Allerca`s first in a series of planned lifestyle pets. The animals will be delivered with pet insurance that can be used only at the company`s registered veterinary clinics.

`We`ll produce about 200,000 cats a year by 2010, but we will never be able to produce as many cats as there is demand,` says Simon Brodie, president of Allerca.

The company will need about 7,500 practitioners nationwide to OK the cats after they have been shipped from Allerca. The veterinarian then will hand off the animal to the buyer, as well as establish a continuing-care regimen.

`The veterinarians would be paid by us to give the animal a final certificate of good health. More importantly, it`s a benefit for us and veterinarians because 95 percent of our customers have never been to a veterinarian; they`ve never had to because they`ve never had a cat.

So it`s important for us to provide our customer with all the support that we can,` Brodie says. `From a business perspective for the veterinarians, they are taking on relatively affluent customers, being that our cats are $3,500, and these customers generally will follow our letter of the law.`

Access to Allerca`s customers won`t be free. The company will be asking practitioners to pay an annual administration fee to be part of its program.

The fee is expected to be less than $1,000 per year to cover training, promotions, support and referrals, but Brodie says the payout likely will be recouped fairly quickly through fees and services for the animals.

Allerca`s cats will be delivered with all appropriate vaccinations; they will be spayed or neutered, and each animal will come with pet insurance, which is applicable only with one of the company`s registered veterinarians.


Source: David Frabotta (2004): Allerca unveils allergen-free feline. In: DVM Newsmagazine Dec 1, 2004; www.dvmnewsmagazine.com/dvm/


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SMALL ANIMAL PRACTICE

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