Another Black woman has fulfilled her childhood dream. Atlanta Black Star is reporting that Dr. Venaya Jones just became the first Black woman to open a veterinary hospital in Cleveland, Ohio.
Jones has always loved animals since she was a little child. She credits a career day visit to her school with cementing her career aspirations. “I knew I wanted to fix animals, but I had no idea what it was called or that it was even a profession. Career day just put a name to the profession that I had already been dreaming about,” Jones told ABS.
The 44 year old originally ran a veterinary house call company called “The Other Family Doctor” before opening her new clinic. She struggled in the beginning to find business loans for her business and support despite being located in what Jones describes as a “veterinary desert,” one of the reasons she chose the area in the first place.
“I feel like it’s a great opportunity here in Cleveland, especially there being no other vet hospitals here,” Jones told media outlets. “There are tons of people with pets, we’re in the health tech corridor. I mean, this is where quality medicine is discovered and done, and I want to be a part of that.”
Veterinary medicine has long been considered one of the “whitest professions in America” with 97.3 percent of veterinarians in the field being white. Slowly, efforts are being made to try to change that harsh truth. Tuskegee University was awarded a $7.1 million grant in 2015 to assist its veterinary program in “its ability to recruit, train, and retain racially and ethnically underrepresented veterinary medical students” as well as “continue to educate culturally competent veterinarians and public health professionals.” Prior to that, the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges (AAVMC) launched a minority outreach program in 2005 to try to award more scholarships to minority students. Nonetheless, the makeup of the field has not changed much in the last couple of years.
Dr. Jones’ Cleveland Veterinary Clinic offers a suite of services including surgeries, hospice care, and dermatological care. Jones said she is “hoping to uplift the community both physically and emotionally, health wise by taking care of their pets, but … also bringing a sense of pride and a sense of accomplishment. I want to be able to show other [young minorities] that they can do it, anything that they dream of, because here is a Black woman that’s come into this community and made it happen.”
Congratulations! We’ll make sure to refer all the fur babies in Cleveland to you!
Photo Courtesy of Dr. Venaya Jones/Atlanta Black Star