Kerri Fivecoat-Campbell

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Posted on July 13, 2005
Page: 3

 


Controlling the animal kingdom, with strong hand and warm heart

Jack Jones brings kindness - and common sense - to a tough job

KERRI FIVECOAT-CAMPBELL

Jack Jones' office is an eclectic mix.

Hanging on one wall, his military commendations and photos, along with a framed collection of Kansas City, Kan., police badges he's collected in his 42-year career with the department. On the other side of his office is a collection of Native American art and animal statues.

The contrasting mix of the room shows a strict enforcer who is compassionate toward others - two qualities needed to be a successful animal-control director.

"The most important part of my job is ensuring we have safe neighborhoods for people and for companion animals," said Jones. "The most satisfying part of my job is when someone comes in and adopts an animal and I see them a year later and they tell me how that animal became a part of their family, I know that they just didn't get an animal, but a companion."

Jones, 72, lives in Edwardsville, and is a native of Oklahoma. Raised by his grandparents on their horse farm, he feels his formative years helped establish his passion for animals. He also had an interest in guns, so he decided to join the military police when he enlisted in the Air Force.

Jones served in Korea, Japan, French Morocco, England and France during his 13-year military stint, and then, at the urging of a friend, settled in the Kansas City area. He joined the Police Department and served as a civilian police adviser in Vietnam. When he returned, he rose in the ranks from patrolman to captain by the time he retired in 1983.

"In 1986, they asked me to come back when the Police Department was getting ready to take over animal control," Jones said. "I've now served under every police chief we've had since 1960." He also worked for animal welfare for the state for two years.

Jones manages 14 people in animal control when the department is fully staffed, and he is responsible for enforcing animal-control codes, picking up stray and wild animals and their ultimate adoption or disposal.

"The part I dislike about my job is having to destroy animals due to the lack of responsibility shown by citizen owners who don't provide proper care for their animals," said Jones.

Jones feels the solution to the problem of unwanted animals in the city begins with educating the public about the animal overpopulation problem. He regularly talks with neighborhood groups and goes out into the community.

"When someone tells me they want their animals to breed so their children can see the miracle of birth, I tell them to come into the shelter on a Tuesday or Thursday so they can see the tragedy of death," Jones said.

Jones has implemented educational programs and translated most of the literature at animal control into Spanish. He also was part of a mayor's task force that helped push a new law requiring pet owners to have their animals spayed or neutered. The animal-control department has recently brought the euthanasia rate down from about 70 percent to 50 percent. Jones said he would like to see that number go lower and he expects it to continue to drop, as more people are educated.

Police Chief Ron Miller, who has known Jones for more than 30 years, said Jones' military and police training, mixed with his values, has been a good fit for animal control.

"He was a police commanding officer when I was a young patrolman," said Miller. "He's very knowledgeable in a variety of areas and is a man of integrity. He's dedicated to law enforcement and public service and he's a person who I listen to. I'm glad to have him working for us."

Jones said when he is not working, he likes to go out by himself and fish. "I like the quiet," he said. Jones has competed in and won several bass tournaments, but said sometimes he likes to fish for crappie and catfish.

His favorite hole is Lake Overholster outside of Oklahoma City. Jones also still likes to collect guns and one of his most prized is a John Wayne Coach shotgun.

But Jones feels his greatest accomplishment has been the opportunity to work as a police officer.

"Being able to serve on the Police Department for 23 years and assisting many people is an accomplishment," Jones said. "Just being able to help people."

Jones describes himself as an "old dog catcher," and said his ultimate goal would be to be able to eliminate the need for an animal-control department. But he knows that's impossible and he doesn't have any immediate plans to retire again soon. "When you retire and sit around on your porch, you get old," Jones said. "I'm old, but I don't feel old and you're only as old as you feel."

Jones lives with his wife, Carolyn. They've been married for 33 years. He has two grown children.

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