New veterinarian at Best Friends Animal Sanctuary

For our newest veterinarian, it’s a pity Best Friends doesn’t have a turtle department. The turtle was, after all, the animal who made Dr. Jennifer Green — or "Dr. Jen" as she’s known around the clinic — want to become a veterinarian in the first place. She took care of several when she was a kid growing up in Jacksonville, Florida.

"There was a lot of development around our house, and so the turtles ended up on our property, like they were refugees," she says.

New veterinarian at Best Friends

Mind you, that wasn’t all that long ago. Dr. Jen is 27 years old. This is her first job out of veterinary school. She graduated last year from Oklahoma State.

Her youthfulness, manifest in her good-natured humor and brimming enthusiasm, was what made her a great candidate and ultimately a great pick for the job as Best Friends veterinarian.

During the interview process, Dr. Jen was included in a number of cases at the clinic.

"She was very receptive to the [case-specific] things we taught her during her interview," says lead Best Friends vet Dr. Mike Dix. "But, at the same time, we were impressed that she had so many great ideas of her own. For a new grad, those attributes were very attractive to us."

Coming to work for Best Friends has been a fantastic professional opportunity, she says. It’s not often that young vets just starting out get the opportunity to work with such an array of animals as Best Friends has.

"I always wanted to work with a mix of animals," she says. "But I never dreamed I’d get hired to do that right out of school."

Another benefit comes in the experience she’ll receive working alongside a group of very talented veterinarians at the Best Friends clinic: Dr. Mike, Dr. Patti Iampietro and Dr. Tara Timpson.

"When you graduate from vet school, you hope to have one great vet to work under and mentor you," she says. "I have three."

Embracing Best Friends' mission

Though Dr. Jen is a relative newcomer to animal welfare, she has wholeheartedly embraced the Best Friends mission of achieving a time of No More Homeless Pets, especially its spay/neuter component. For several days after getting the job and before moving to Utah, she volunteered at First Coast No More Homeless Pets in Jacksonville. There, she did as many spay/neuters as she could, making sure she was proficient as possible at conducting the procedures before her first day on the job as a vet at Best Friends.

"She has worked out great," Dr. Mike says. "She has brought some new enthusiasm and has really picked up on things quite quickly. She has been a wonderful addition to the veterinary staff."

Having started her job in October, Dr. Jen is, however, still waiting for that opportunity to treat a turtle. In the meantime, the vet techs at the clinic have been ribbing her about her original impetus for wanting to become a vet.

One day Dr. Jen told one of the vet techs that when she was younger she thought that the perfect veterinary practice would include "kittens, 16-weeks-old, or younger and turtles." The vet tech finished the sentence by adding "and unicorns." The same vet tech appeared days later with a framed painting of a unicorn, which Dr. Jen displays with a good measure of humor in her office.

Photos by Gary Kalpakoff

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