Dedicated to Compassion

By Graham Garrison

April 9, 2019

Whether it’s using the human-animal bond to provide joy to those in need, or helping veterinary practices navigate a more complex marketplace, one PSIvet Area Manager has tied compassion to every part of her career.

Image of therapy dog Tanner

Jeanne Gossett Crowley has seen many sides of the care spectrum. 

In veterinary medicine, it’s led her from managing a veterinary practice, to assisting independent veterinarians as a PSIvet Area Manager for North Mississippi, West Tennessee and Arkansas. 

However, that’s getting ahead of the story. Crowley actually got her start on the human medical side, starting her first job in 1978 for the Mississippi Hospital Association. In 1986, she returned to the University of Southern Mississippi to complete her BS in Marketing Management, then decided to get her MBA in Business Administration. Upon graduation, she landed a job with the Louisiana Hospital Association, introducing group purchasing to hospital administrators in that state.  

Community bonds

All of those experiences would come in handy years later, only in the veterinary medicine field. Crowley married and moved to Atlanta in 1991. She worked as a manager for Banfield in Alpharetta, Georgia for five years. While working and living in Atlanta, she read a newspaper article about an organization called Canine Companions for Independence (CCI), a non-profit organization that enhances the lives of people with disabilities by providing highly trained assistance dogs at no charge to the recipient. Since its founding in 1975, CCI has provided over 5,000 assistance dogs to people with disabilities. CCI has six regional training centers and serves people throughout the United States.

“There was a community of veterinarians that supported CCI puppy raisers in Atlanta,” she says. “They were a compassionate group dedicated to the human-animal bond and I knew I would like to work in that profession.”

According to its website, CCI trains four types of service dogs:

  • • CCI service dogs assist adults with physical disabilities by performing daily tasks.
  • • Hearing dogs alert their partners, who are deaf and hard of hearing, to important sounds.
  • • Facility dogs work with clients with special needs in a visitation, education, criminal justice or health care setting.
  • • Skilled companions enhance independence for children and adults with physical, cognitive and developmental disabilities.

Crowley applied to be a volunteer puppy raiser for one of the canine companions. “It was one of the most rewarding things I’ve done and led to my passion for veterinary medicine,” she says. 

Canine Companions breeds Labrador Retrievers, Golden Retrievers, and a cross of the two to be assistance dogs, according to the organization. Volunteers care for the breeder dogs and nurture newborn puppies for eight weeks. Volunteer puppy raisers provide basic obedience training, socialization and care. With CCI, puppy raisers keep their dogs for 1-1.5 years. “We socialized them and trained them to go into restaurants and lay quietly under the table,” Crowley says. If their job allowed, handlers could take them to work. “We trained them to go into grocery stores and not sniff anything on shelves, etc. We had structured classes with a seasoned trainer weekly.”

Crowley says it broke her heart to turn her puppy Denton in for advanced training when the time came, because she had formed such a deep bond. “I told CCI after I turned my puppy in that I would and could do many things for them, but I just didn’t think I could raise another puppy and give him up.” So, she helped with fundraisers, and would keep puppies for puppy raisers when they went out of town. 

Unique experience

In 2003, a job opportunity opened up with PSIvet in Florida, where Crowley could combine her experience in both the veterinary and group purchasing arenas. In 2008, she moved to Mississippi while continuing to work for PSIvet. She had her golden retriever Tanner certified in 2009 by a local therapy organization called Love on a Leash. Through the organization, she took Tanner into hospice homes, and even a safe shelter for women. Jeanne had to go through police clearance and do a little more orientation and training to go into the shelter.

Image of therapy dog Tanner's ID

“I would take my dog in and let the children pet him, talk to him, love on him,” she says. “We were very restricted in how we interacted with these children because they really witnessed some pretty bad abuse. We just let the kids love on the dogs.”

Jeanne saw firsthand how therapy dogs can make a big difference in many little ways. “It’s amazing when a person in a hospice bed sees a therapy dog walk in their room; they light up and reach out for them. Children in safe shelters who have witnessed terrible abuse will lay down with dogs and talk to them. The difference is obvious with their smiles and warm greeting.”

Unfortunately, her golden retriever passed away in 2012, but Crowley says she looks forward to working again with a canine companion in therapy situations when the time is right.

Today, she is Senior Area Manager/Field Trainer and resides in Mississippi covering multiple states. With her role at PSIvet, Jeanne has been able to draw from her previous experience with hospitals and tie that into the work she does in veterinary medicine.

“When I opened up Mississippi for PSIvet, our doctors were unfamiliar with the concept of group purchasing,” she says. “When I described what our Mississippi hospitals had done years earlier, and the impact on their bottom line, it suddenly made sense. In other words, it made my job easier!”

Crowley is passionate about helping veterinarians, “not all of whom get business training in vet school,” she says. “I love to try to help them improve their bottom line, however they choose to do that in various ways. I love working with and helping them. Many vets are so compassionate and have such big hearts that they forget their practice is a business.”