At Somerset Veterinary Group in Bridgewater, N.J., it’s not uncommon for staff to welcome groups of children onto the premises, in addition to clients and pets. That’s because Jennifer Cece Feeney, DVM (’94) routinely gives tours of the facility to local Boy and Girl Scout troops, 4-H groups and homeschooled children.
“They get the whole behind-the-scenes tour, with surgery and X-Rays, and they can even look through the microscope,” said Dr. Feeney. “It’s really fun showing them around and answering their questions.”
That’s just one reason why Dr. Feeney was recently honored with the Good Neighbor Award, which recognizes veterinarians who give back to their community. The award is given by Henry Schein Inc., the world’s largest provider of healthcare products and services to office-based dental, animal health and medical practitioners.
When she’s not caring for animals and overseeing operations as chief of staff at Somerset Veterinary Group, Dr. Feeney volunteers once a week at the Somerset Regional Animal Shelter. In addition to donating her veterinary expertise, she helps connect scouting groups with the shelter for other volunteer opportunities. What’s more, Somerset Veterinary Group offers free exams to any pet adopted from the shelter.
“If you are a truly an animal lover, this is most rewarding and fulfilling career you could have,” Dr. Feeney said. “You’ll be happy to come to work every day.”
The Gypsy Moth Doctor
Dr. Feeney has always been “crazy about animals.” Growing up, she’d roam her backyard to find hurt or ailing wildlife—including gypsy moths, spiders and caterpillars—and nurse them back to health. When even that failed to fully satisfy her helping instincts, she would play vet with her stuffed animals, putting bandages on their legs and making teddy-sized crutches out of wood.
Yet during college at Seton Hall University in South Orange, N.J., she explored other interests and wound up majoring in English. By senior year, she was back on the veterinary path, but found herself in catch-up mode. “I had to go back and take my prerequisites in freshman biology and chemistry,” she said. “When I applied to veterinary schools, Ross was the most receptive to my situation, and I was excited by the accelerated program.”
After earning her DVM, Dr. Feeney worked at an emergency clinic in Staten Island. From there, she moved around a couple times before settling in Bridgewater in 2007. Three years later, she started working at Somerset—right around the corner from her house. She’s been there ever since, and in 2015 earned a promotion to chief of staff.
“It’s a beautiful hospital, great staff, amazing vets,” said Dr. Feeney. “It’s an awesome job.”
That goes for when she’s off the clock, too. She’s happy to talk animals all day.
“When you meet people and you tell them you’re a vet, they’ll start telling you everything that’s ever happened to their pet,” Dr. Feeney said. “Friends will Facebook message you their pet questions 24/7. But I love being able to help. I try to make my little world a better place.”