This month we get to meet Dr. Jenn who is helping set a new course for animal care at SAS. Back in December, we introduced her colleague Dr. Sarah and this veterinarian duo is bringing the Shelter Clinic and Spay and Neuter Clinic together to best serve the animals in the care of SAS and the greater Seattle community.

Jennifer C. Bennett, DVM, MS, Medical Director/Senior Veterinarian

How long you’ve been with SAS and role:
I started the end of October 2017, just now into my 4th month here!

What was your path that got you to animal welfare work?
I started out in private practice for the first 5 years after veterinary school in an area near my hometown in northern California. This area is very rural and suffered from one of the highest shelter kill rates in the state. My local county animal shelter was looking into forming a veterinary service team and a spay/neuter clinic and I was asked to come in and get things off the ground because of my ties to the local community and experience with animals of all species, which was important in a rural area. I started at Lake County Animal Care & Control in 2013 and spent two years there helping to build the surgery and medicine program as their Medical Director, and we were very proud to have dropped our euthanasia rates down by more than 50% and it continued to drop. We also started a free TNR program for community cats and an ASPCA and other local grants allowed us to have ongoing very low cost pitbull spay/neuter surgeries. In the spring of 2015 I relocated to the Seattle area with my family for my husband’s work and immediately began to seek out the local shelter and spay/neuter groups to become involved with. I spent over a year as the Lead Veterinarian at Purrfect Pals in Arlington, and became a regular surgeon at NOAH in Stanwood and full-time relief Veterinarian for the City of Everett in 2017. As a relief (fill-in) shelter veterinarian, I was forture to also be able to provide surgery and medicine services to Emerald City Pet Rescue, PAWS, Wenatchee Valley Humane Society and the Feral Cat Spay/Neuter Project, while getting to know so many of the folks in our field that make shelter and rescue possible in the PNW. For me, shelter medicine is so rewarding because it allows me to provide immediate care and assistance to animals in need and put my skills to use on a level that often requires fast and practical thinking with creative use of resources. I also love surgery and this is a large part of a shelter veterinarian’s job as well.

How did you get to SAS?
I spent last year as a full-time relief veterinarian, taking time to learn about the local organizations and opportunities. When I heard about the opening at SAS last fall, I was excited about the opportunity for some new directions here, merging the shelter medicine program with the spay/neuter clinic program and bringing together a new veterinary team to serve the animals. I was excited when Ann brought me on board and we’ve been working closely together on this goal every since.

What is a typical day like?
I rotate my days on the surgery service with days on the medicine service. In surgery, we usually start at 7:#0am checking in animals, doing pre-op exams and getting them prepped for surgery. Then I am typically in surgery from 9am until 2 or 3pm, whenever our schedule is completed and everyone wakes up. I work on surgery reports and aftercare instructions, usually have a few management meetings and projects to work on into the evening. On the medicine service, we usually start at 10am, start by answering foster and shelter emails, refill medications and food requests, look over and interpret lab results, update Pet Point notes and plans. We hold shelter wide health rounds at noon, where we go through all animals in the shelter and make notes of any healthcare needs with the Animal Care team. Tehn from about 1-5pm we perform exams, see shelter animals, perform treatments and procedures as needed, see foster animal appointments when scheduled, and answer lots of questions! End of the day is usually more emails, notes into Pet Point, ordering stock for the clinic, and many other administrative tasks. It’s not unusual for me to leave late into the night.

What is the most rewarding part of your job?
Finding ways to make our services more accessible, more efficient, and more effective for all parties involved. And lately, adding new equipment to our repitoire!

As you are relatively new to SAS, what are you looking forward to most?
Getting to the point where our spay/neuter clinic joins the ranks of “high volume” in terms of surgery capacity and where we have a fully functioning in-hosue set of diagnostic equipment, which we are actively working on setting up and installing, with creative use of space.

Who are your pets at home?
I have one older horse, a 27 year old fjord gelding named Spanker who is now retired from parades and 4-H demonstration days, an alpaca named Teddy, two Border Collies (Califa and Panda) and an Akbash named Scout. I also have two cats, Sampson and Edgar, who are both from rescue groups. We used to raise and breed Cheviot sheep until this past fall, so our dogs are all working ranch dogs. We are currently downsizing our furry family in order to focus on all the activities our human family brings. My husband, Leo, and I have two children: Liam is 6 years old and Lorelei is 15 months. We have a 5 acre ranch in Monroe.

What are favorite activities outside of SAS?
Vacations to visit family, especially to southern Chile where my husband is from. We also love road trips and seeing nature. I am a life-long horseback rider and enjoy trail trials and team penning work. We also spend a lot of time at our local YMCA being active together as a family.

In closing…
I’m really excited to step into this new and challenging role here at SAS. I know there are a few uphill climbs ahead and I want to ask for and continue to thank you all for your patience as we go through some staff changes and growing pains in how we do things. We are working hard to streamline our veterinary services for the benefit of our shelter animals.