Driven to make a difference

Dr. Jennifer Hennessey and Hero

Dr. Jennifer Hennessey is an unapologetic workaholic.

Need proof? In addition to owning and operating two veterinary clinics in the Houston area, Dr. Hennessey is on call 24/7 for the Harris County Animal Cruelty Taskforce, which she helped found. She is working toward a master’s certificate in veterinary forensic science from the University of Florida. She also is an Iditarod veterinarian, a professional bodybuilder and fitness model, a Mrs. Texas Legacy title holder and the current Mrs. Alaska, a veterinary journalist, a wife, and a mother of two.

“Sometimes it’s hard to even remember what all I do because I wear so many hats,” Dr. Hennessey said. “I have to stop and actually count on my fingers what I need to do on a given day, but that’s something I’m very proud of.”

A 2005 graduate of the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, Dr. Hennessey is proud of being the only college graduate and doctor in her family as well as owner of an animal emergency practice and a pet rehabilitation clinic.

“I feel passionate that I found my true purpose in life and that the profession of veterinary medicine decided for me that I would become a vet,” and an emergency room veterinarian at that, Dr. Hennessey said.

The summer before enrolling as an undergraduate at the University of Texas-Dallas, Dr. Hennessey took a job at a small animal clinic. She wasn’t sure whether a career in veterinary medicine was for her. Then a staff veterinarian recommended she apply to a veterinary emergency clinic.

That piece of advice changed her life.

“My first shift clinched it for me as it fit my inner desires to be of help to animals in need of urgent medical support, but also delivered an unexpected gift of being the person that a worried and emotional family met to help comfort and support them in their crisis with their pet,” Dr. Hennessey explained.

Despite the stress and chaos, Dr. Hennessey knew she was where she was supposed to be. “I discovered what I needed to do in life and fell in love with a profession filled with serving others, both two and four legged, and one where every effort counts in the formula to saving a life,” she said.

Dr. Hennessey keeps a demanding schedule outside the veterinary clinic. She is a professional bodybuilder and fitness model who represented Alaska in the 2020 Mrs. Unites States of America Pageant, a competition for married women. In 2019, she started helping look after the sled dogs participating in the annual Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race in Alaska.

How does Dr. Hennessey manage it? Partly by sleeping six hours every three days. “It’s more mental than anything,” she explained, “but I also have a sports nutritionist and an elite athlete physician’s assistant who helps with intermittent vitamin drips and those types of things so that I can try to reboot in a different way than sleep.”

Dr. Hennessey feels strongly about educating children about responsible animal care. Every month she hosts clinics for stuffed animals during which clinic staff members care for injured teddy bears, teach kids about pet health, and introduce children to veterinary medicine.

“In the end, none of it is about me,” she said. “It’s about making a difference and improving lives of animals and people. That’s what I want the legacy of my practice to be.”

— to www.avma.org

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