Dr. Jody Jones had a big interest in medicine but couldn’t imagine herself touching people for an exam. “I thought back as a kid what I enjoyed and being around animals always made me happy,” said Dr. Jones, who is originally from Sargent, Nebraska. She attended UNL, earning her bachelor’s degree in animal science, then graduated from Kansas State where she received her doctorate in veterinary medicine. Dr. Jones began her career as a veterinarian in 2002 at a mixed animal practice in Iowa before moving back to Nebraska in 2005, where she has developed a special interest in animal behavior. In her free time, she enjoys spending time with her husband and their two cats, as well as attending Husker football and volleyball games.
ALLISON: What was your veterinary education like?
DR. JONES: On average, it takes 8 years to become a veterinarian. A lot of classes that didn’t seem to be important for medicine include chemistry, biology and math for undergraduate classes. Veterinary school includes very detailed classes required to encompass the whole animal. For example, anatomy, physiology, parasitology and virology. I had to study a lot more than I did in undergrad but completely worth it.
ALLISON: What does a typical day at your job look like?
DR. JONES: The usual day in a small animal practice includes surgery in the mornings and appointments in the afternoon. They can be anything from vaccinations to illnesses and anytime an emergency may come in.
ALLISON: What is the riskiest part of your job?
DR. JONES: The riskiest part of the job is being bitten by dogs and cats.
ALLISON: What keeps you going in the tough times?
DR. JONES: Like other jobs, when it gets tough, it is important to have friends and family to talk to.
ALLISON: Describe a happy moment on your job.
DR. JONES: It is always fun when puppies and kitties come in.
ALLISON: Do you have your own pets? Tell me about them.
DR. JONES: I have one dog named Zeus that I adopted at 8 years old. He had a fantastic previous owner but she couldn’t keep her. Amigo was a kitten that fell out of a pickup at my husband’s work in the middle of the winter. KonKon had gotten sick and the previous owner was great but couldn’t afford the expensive surgery he needed. Zeus’s and KonKon’s previous owners come visit them.
ALLISON: What excites you about puppy/kitten kindergarten?
DR. JONES: The first few months of a puppy’s and kitten’s life is extremely important. They develop emotionally during this period that affects the rest of their life. Interactions with other animals, people and environment at that time helps them be happy and confident.
ALLISON: Why are you interested in helping cats with behavior issues?
DR. JONES: Thousands of cats are euthanized at humane societies every year because they can’t find homes for them. Often the cats that end up at the humane society have behavioral issues like urinating outside the litterbox and attacking people. I think if we teach owners to interact with them in a loving and understanding way we can prevent a lot of euthanasia.
ALLISON: Why do you believe in positive reinforcement training?
DR. JONES: There is a lot of research that has proven positive reinforcement training is an effective way to talk to our pets. They not only learn what we want them to do and how to ask us for things, but positive reinforcement teaches them how to handle situations in which they may become uncomfortable. The old training styles that include punishment increases anxiety problems later in life. These animals only know what the owner wants at that time, but they doen’t know what to do in different situations.
ALLISON: What one medical or technical advancement in the future do you most want?
DR. JONES: I hope there is a way to video an animal and the computer reads the animals body language then tell us in English what they are saying! My job would be so much easier.
EDITOR’S NOTE: I am proud to announce that Dr. Jones-Skibinski and I will be offering kitten kindergarten in Lincoln, Nebraska, through Allison Helps Cats. Tickets are available here: Kitten Kindergarten