Dr. Kelly Ballantyne is an instructor of veterinary clinical medicine. She practices in Chicago at Veterinary Behavior at Illinois.
Tell us about your background, hobbies, and where you’re from.
I grew up in Glenview, a suburb north of Chicago. I attended the University of Illinois for both undergrad and veterinary school, then moved up to Chicago following graduation. My favorite hobbies include traveling, cycling, and photography. I have to admit I have several others…can having hobbies be a hobby?
What do you enjoy most about being a veterinary behaviorist?
I really enjoy helping people to understand their pets better. I find that once a client has an accurate understanding of their pet’s motivations and we can develop a treatment plan based on this understanding, the pet’s quality of life improves and the human-animal bond is strengthened.
What is the most challenging part of your job?
One of the most challenging parts of my job is debunking the dominance myth and encouraging clients to move away from punishment-based training methods. There is so much misinformation surrounding animal behavior, and I am often the first person sharing the behavioral science perspective.
What in your education or life drew you to this profession?
I honestly wasn’t strongly interested in behavioral medicine while in veterinary school. However, shortly after graduation I realized that I spent a significant amount of time discussing animal behavior with clients. In my efforts to be as well informed as possible, I started reading and researching behavioral medicine and quickly fell in love with the field.
Are there resources for vets or their clients that they can use as a starting point for behavior-related issues?
The American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior is an excellent resource for veterinarians. Members can discuss behavior cases with other veterinarians, veterinary behaviorists, and applied animal behavior scientists. They have also created several position statements on a range of animal behavior related topics, including dominance and punishment, that are freely available on their website.