By Martie Thompson

Dr. Jacob Vencil, owner and medical director of Palencia Pet Clinic, said he always knew he wanted to be a veterinarian. He grew up in Jacksonville Beach and earned his undergraduate degree in animal science at the University of Florida before continuing on as a Gator at the University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine. While there, he met his wife, Jennifer, who is also a veterinarian. The family, which includes three children under the age of four as well as two dogs (Maggie and Stitch) and a cat (Reesie) lives in northern St. Johns County. 

Q: How did you come to live in northern St. Johns County?
A: Since my family is in Jacksonville Beach and my wife’s family is in Ocala, and we decided not to move to either place after vet school but rather split the difference, we landed in St. Augustine/northern St. Johns County. We really enjoy being a part of this community. It takes me a long time to get out of Publix, because I always see people I know, but I love that.

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Q: What made you decide to become a veterinarian?
A: That’s a classic question I’ve been asked and I wish I had a good answer, like a single event that made my decision, but I don’t. My parents tell me that since I was three or four years old, I always said I wanted to become a vet. I don’t remember not wanting to be one. And then, when I was about 15 years old, I worked in a friend’s dad’s veterinary clinic. I fed and walked the dogs in the kennel and it solidified in my mind that I could see myself actually becoming a veterinarian.

Q: How did you become the owner of the Palencia Pet Clinic?
A: I started my career at a 24-hour emergency clinic, where I worked for three years. It was a wonderful experience and I learned a lot. But soon Jennifer and I were ready to start our regular life, which included having a family. It worked out well that in 2016, Dr. Veling of Palencia Pet Clinic was ready to slow down and I was ready to rise to the challenge of running a practice. Dr. Veling is still on staff. We’ve been blessed to grow with the community, which has responded well to our mission of care. We believe in communicating with each pet parent to give the best and most personalized care for their pet. We’ve developed relationships and we always try to educate the owners.

Q: What general advice would you give pet owners?

A: I guess this goes back to our practice’s philosophy. It’s always good to ask questions and be involved with your pet’s care. Find a trusted source who knows your pet and your general philosophy. Online information is well intentioned, but not always accurate, so it’s important to find a veterinarian that you can connect with.

Q: How have you adapted your practice’s care in light of COVID 19?

A: We have changed a few of our policies. We now provide curbside service. The pet owner calls in for an appointment, then the nurse meets them in their car outside and brings the pet inside to see the doctor for treatment, before returning the pet to the car. Consultation and education with the pet owner is then done over the phone. Pet owners have been appreciative of us providing this service.

Q: What are your hobbies?

A: I try to stay active and I like to be outdoors. When time permits, I love to go out on a boat and go fishing in the Intracoastal Waterway.

Photo courtesy Jacob Vencil

Jacob Vencil and family

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