A WORK OF LOVE: Jones retiring after 35 years of joy as veterinarian

Published 3:00 am Sunday, June 17, 2018

Veterinary medicine is all that Dr. Jack Jones has ever wanted to do.

Growing up in a small rural community, that was not an unusual thing. Kids grew up around farm animals and many had experiences with the daily care of the animals.

Young Jones was involved in the care of his dad’s cows and also the other side of the cattle business. His dad owned and operated Jones Slaughter House in Ariton so he knew the cattle business, inside and out.

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On Wednesday, June 20, 2018, Jones will loosely put the lid on his 35-year career in veterinary medicine. On June 21, he will work the stockyards, as usual, and on June 22, he will leave for Honduras to volunteer his veterinary skills much as he has done on vacation for that past 13 years.

Jones opened his veterinary practice in Brundidge in 1983. He has never looked back.

“Nothing ever crossed my mind except being a veterinarian,” Jones said. “I’ve been blessed to do what I love. It is said if you were fortunate to find a job you love, you’d never have to work a day in your life. I’ve never ‘worked’ a day in my life.”

From the beginning, Jones realized that his chosen profession would require a 24-7 commitment.

“After I finished at Auburn, I worked with Drs. Faust and Tamplin in Ozark and received excellent on-the-job training,” Jones said. “I learned being a veterinarian was not a 9 to 5 job.”

Jones also knew he wanted to have his own practice. So, in 1983, he took the plunge.

“I wanted to go out on my own,” he said. “But Jimmy Carter was president and interest was at 20 percent. I was 31 years old with a wife and three kids. Going out on my own required a big investment with big payments to make. That was a huge responsibility and a big chance to take. But Brenda and I took the chance and things have worked out because Brundidge has been mighty good to us.”

The late Albert Hastey was the first person to walk through the door of Jones Animal Clinic to welcome the young doctor.

“During those first years, I made a lot of farm calls,” Jones said. “Large animals were a big part of my work load, so I was out of the office a lot. When I got to the office, I had a day’s work to do. I didn’t have any short days.”

Jones loved his job so he never bolted.

“I never even thought about it,” he said, with a smile. “Having Brenda work with me made all the difference. We love what we do and we have been very happy doing what we do and doing it together.”

Brenda Jones understood the demands placed on a veterinarian. So when her husband worked from “can to can’t” six days a week and went into the office twice on Sundays, she was all right with that.

Over the years, Jones’ “patients” and their owners became like family.

“Working in a small town, you get to know everybody,” Jones said. “Knowing their pets is like knowing their kids and you get to know their kids, too.”

The couple was there for the good times and the not-so-good times with their “families.”

“The hardest part of being a veterinarian is having to put an animal down,” Jones said. “I’m often asked, ‘Is it time?’ and I’ll always tell the person, ‘You’ll know.’ When the time comes, I’ll try to assure them that letting go is the kindest thing they can do and they should do it with no guilt.”

Brenda Jones said putting an animal down is a crying time. “And I cry with them and Jack does in his way. Experiences like that bring you especially close to your ‘families.’”

Dr. Jack Jones knows about the difficulty of letting go, so, when he had the opportunity to sell his practice, he had a tough decision to make.

“I knew I might not get that opportunity again,” Jones said. “I had been working 24-7 for 30 years. It was time.”

But what made the time right was that Jones was asked to stay around during the transition.

He agreed to stay on and work six days a week for five years.

“The only difference in my work schedule was I got Sunday off,” he said with a smile. “That made my decision much easier.”

Knowing he will probably be asked to fill in every now in then will make taking that first step into retirement easier.

“Brenda and I are looking forward to having this time,” Jones said. “First, I’m going to Honduras. Then, we’ll get started on our bucket list and go until the finances run out.”

At the top of the bucket list is a trip to Alaska and then travels out West.

“I’ve lived pretty much in the same place where I was born so I want to see what all’s out there while I’m still able to,” Jones said. “We thank all of those who have supported us over the years. We have been blessed to serve such wonderful people and in such a wonderful community. We can’t say ‘thank you’ enough.”