Blue Mountain Animal Clinic welcomes third veterinarian

Medicine has advanced by leaps and bounds in the past century.

Not just human medicine but veterinarian medicine, too.

Dr. Sharon Jensen, owner of Blue Mountain Animal Clinic on Old Olympic Highway in Agnew, takes comfort in the fact that she is a small piece of the animal welfare jigsaw puzzle.

Jensen bought the veterinary medicine clinic from Dr. Jack Thornton in April 2007. Before that she worked at Greywolf Veterinary Clinic but quit when the business was bought by a corporate company based out of Chicago, Jensen said.

Thornton, who started the business in the 1970s, continues to work part time four days a week, teaching Jensen the ropes and inspiring her to keep the clinic what it’s always been — a community resource that puts animals and their owners first.

Learning the basics of running a veterinary practice from her predecessor, Jensen has utilized her own education and experience to update the office, switching from an old-fashioned five-by-seven

notecard filing system to computers and buying a new, state-of-the-art blood scanning device that produces blood work results in less than 15 minutes.

With her team, Jensen diagnoses and treats pets that for many people are part of the family. She is a strong advocate of “compassionate quality care for the life of your pet,” the clinic’s motto, and has a special interest in geriatrics, dentistry, advanced pain medicine, animal behavior and general internal medicine.

Working in conjunction with fellow veterinarians Dr. Melissa Smith of Country Care Vet Service in Sequim and Dr. Carmen Czachor of Family Veterinary Clinic in Port Angeles, Jensen answers after-hour emergency calls throughout the county. The three women meet every couple of weeks to discuss cases.

Jensen graduated from Reed College in 1980 and Washington State University with honors in 1984. “Reed taught me to be a scholar and vet school taught me how to be a doctor,” she said.

After completing her schooling, Jensen practiced in Idaho doing clinical research on humans. Then, she took a few years off to travel the world by sailboat before settling down and putting her degree to use.

“The clinical studies was a really good experience and taught me how to work with people,” she said, “which is important. My relationship is not just with the pet, it’s with the entire family. This is a compassion-based practice.”

Molly Dickson, office manager for more than 15 years, reiterates Jensen’s belief. “We don’t talk at people, we talk with them and keep them in the driver’s seat when it comes to the care of their animals,” she said.

Upon buying the clinic, Jensen immediately installed new flooring, re-did the ceiling, purchased a walk-on scale and added a second exam room. But more change is imminent, she said. “We are going to expand, the question is simply when can we afford it.”

Larger surgery rooms, another office, a bathroom with a shower for employees and a lunch room all will be part of an expansion on the east side of the building.

“The expansion will take place within the next 24 months,” Jensen predicted.

In the nearer future, new signage will greet passersby once the Old Olympic Highway widening project is completed, hopefully sometime this summer, Jensen said. The signs are being designed and built by metal artist and dog-lover Dana Hyde, owner of Metal & Mud.

Putting pet health first

Blue Mountain Animal Clinic, 2972 Old Olympic Highway, is open 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Friday. Expanded hours will be introduced in 2009. New clients are welcome. A communitywide lost and found animal directory is available upon request, as well as an online pet library with up-to-date veterinary health information. For more information, go online to or call 457-3842.

Welcome to the family

Dr. Jolean Morrison, a 2007 Wisconsin School of Veterinary Medicine graduate who practiced most recently in Snohomish County, joined the Blue Mountain Animal Clinic staff June 9.

“I became excited about working for Dr. Sharon Jensen at Blue Mountain (Animal Clinic) the first time I talked to her,” Morrison said via e-mail. “As a relatively new veterinarian, the most important factor in any clinic is mentoring. Sharon is a woman who is both wise and compassionate. You walk into her clinic and she is smiling warmly, her staff is happy and there is truly a sense of family.”

Morrison knew she wanted to become a vet when she was a sixth-grader. “My best friend at the time was my kitty, a grey bundle of fur named Dusty,” she shared. “I knew something was wrong with him but my dad wanted to wait it out and see if he would get better on his own.”

When she came home from school that day, Dusty was nowhere to be found even though he usually would greet her at the door. “Finally, I found him in the closet, half in and half out of an open box, stiff with pain,” Morrison remembered. “I picked him up and he began to seizure. The despair I was in was overwhelming. My best friend was dying before my eyes and I could do nothing to help him.”

A friend arrived to drive Morrison and Dusty to the veterinarian.

“As I handed her my sick cat, she felt his tummy and knew instantly what was wrong. I was amazed,” Morrison said. “I now know he had a stone in his urethra blocking the passage of urine. Cats can die from this within 24 hours (but) Dusty made it home and I am forever grateful to the doctor who saved his life.”

Morrison’s areas of interest in veterinarian science include animal behavior, internal medicine, cardiology, ultrasound, ophthalmology and holistic medicine.

Like her boss, veterinarian and clinic owner Sharon Jensen, Morrison is an advocate of advanced pain management techniques to preserve function and comfort in elderly pets.

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