Dr. Lee Denney of Cushing, Okla., was named the 2017 Oklahoma Veterinarian of the Year by the Oklahoma Veterinary Medical Association.
“I’m very honored,” said Denney. “I feel unworthy but also I’m very grateful. It was a very humbling experience to be in that room with my colleagues.”
Denney, a lifetime resident of Cushing, earned her DVM degree from Oklahoma State University in 1978.
When asked why she chose OSU, she remarked, “Oh, you just have to say why not? Being an instate resident and having a vet school with an excellent reputation was a great combination and that’s why I picked it.
“I always knew I wanted to do something in the medical field,” she continued. “Loved biology and the variety of species, the variety in your daily routine was very appealing. And then add in the medical aspect, veterinary medicine seemed like the likely choice.”
Immediately upon graduation, she went into private practice.
“At the time, I was married to a veterinarian and we opened a mixed practice in Cushing and had that practice for 35 years.”
In addition to veterinary medicine, Dr. Denney has another professional interest that impacts animal owners in a different way. She served in the Oklahoma legislature for 12 years, the maximum amount of time allowed.
“I got interested in politics probably 10 to 12 years before I was elected and realized what an impact it does have on our state,” said Denney. “I think a lot of us just go through life voting all the time, making sure we vote but not really paying attention to what those that we put in office actually do. And with money being tight these days and regulations changing, I thought it was important to spend my time in public service.
“I think it’s very important for veterinarians to be engaged. At the time I was in the legislature, we had three veterinarians. We were an active voice, not only for veterinary medicine, but also for production agriculture. And I think it was very important; colleagues looked to us.”
Today Dr. Denney serves as an instructor and department head for the Veterinary Technology Department at the Oklahoma State University-Oklahoma City campus.
“I hope I’m remembered as someone who is open minded and willing to learn and willing to change. And approachable on all areas whether it’s in veterinary medicine, teaching students here at OSU-OKC or even in the legislature. Someone who values other people’s opinions and is willing to work with those people. Maybe not always agreeing with opinions but willing to have a civil discourse and move through problems that we have in today’s society.”
Denney has many areas of accomplishments—her family, her veterinary practice, and her time in the legislature.
“Raising kids to be productive adults is always a great accomplishment,” she said. “Also in the field of veterinary medicine, even protecting the Practice Act and things like that in the legislature have been great. If you drill it down even further, when someone brings you their dog or their cat and it’s their lifelong companion and they feel like the outcome is going to probably be euthanasia but you find out that it’s not and just the joy on their face is wonderful. To return that animal to their family is really a great accomplishment.”
When asked what advice she would offer someone who is considering becoming a veterinarian, Dr. Denney had this to say:
“Do it. It’s a wonderful profession. It’s like anything; there is good and bad. You know at 2 a.m. when you’re at the clinic delivering puppies, you kind of think why did I do this? But when those puppies are all going yip, yip, yip and sucking on their mom and you get to go home and go back to bed, it’s rewarding. And the variety of it (veterinary medicine) and the people you meet. It’s been a great profession. Not only on the small animal side but veterinarians are extremely necessary to protect our food supply and protect us from a lot of foreign animal diseases that we’re starting to see creep back into society. So do it. It’s very rewarding. There’s so many different avenues you can take and you will be very lucky to be a veterinarian.”
Other Oklahoma State veterinary graduates recognized during the Oklahoma Veterinary Medical Association’s Annual Convention were:
- Dr. Christopher Kelley (’97), Companion Animal Practitioner of the Year
- Dr. Byron Schick (’87), Distinguished Service Award
- Dr. Jarod Kennedy (’06), Food Animal Practitioner of the Year