Jennifer Jellison | Women in Business

When Jennifer Jellison was 4, she watched a dog get hit by a car on Cleveland Avenue.

For Paws Blue Cross Animal Hospital

When Jennifer Jellison was 4, she watched a dog get hit by a car on Cleveland Avenue.

The car that hit the dog didn’t stop, and neither did the next car. But her dad did.

Jellison remembers standing on the street and starting to cry. And her dad said something she never has forgotten: “If you’re gonna cry, get back in the car. If you’re gonna make a difference, then get out here and help.”

That’s the day Jellison decided she would become a veterinarian.

Jellison owns For Paws Blue Cross Animal Hospital in North Canton—the white building with blue shutters at the corner of Easthill and Main streets. Her veterinary career started in Columbus and has involved repeated appearances on national television as an
animal safety expert.

For Paws Blue Cross Animal Hospital offers appointments along with urgent and emergency care. Jellison also runs the For Paws Project, which rescues animals with illness or wounds who are slated for euthanasia from shelters, treats them at no cost and adopts them to homes. So far, she’s saved more than 1,200 pets, including Cranberry, a beagle with broken bones in two legs, whose recovery story was reported across the country.

Jellison came back home to Stark County after her children finished high school and purchased the animal hospital. But taking over a business from a well-known veterinarian—and being a woman—was hard. Clients had built trust with the male doctor and were worried about Jellison doing things differently because of her gender. And Jellison had trouble imagining herself as a business owner.

“You’re kind of fighting this Norman Rockwell thing,” she said.

She’s got it figured out now, and the trend has shifted in veterinary medicine, with the American Veterinary Medical Association reporting women make up 55 percent of the private and public veterinary market.

Jellison’s suggestions for other women who are contemplating opening their own businesses? Don’t be afraid, break the process down into manageable steps and find a cheerleader who will support you.

On the day Jellison and her father scooped up the dog on Cleveland Avenue and put it in the back of their car, they stopped at a local vet’s office for help. There was a bell to be rung in case of emergencies. Jellison rang the bell and rang the bell, but no one came.

“I just always try to answer the door,” Jellison said.