When veterinarian Marla Litchenberger was turned down by several banks for financing to open her animal clinic, she turned to Live Oak Bank, a North Carolina lender with a portfolio dominated by loans to veterinarians -- about 92% of its loans go to the animal practitioners. Specialized lenders such as Live Oak can be more attuned to a business' revenue model and cash-flow needs, but they can be riskier and more likely to draw the eye of regulators.

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