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Fear Free: 3 Veterinarians Share Success Stories

Kim Campbell Thornton

Pandemic pups, neuter patients, staff, and owners benefit from Fear Free techniques. Here’s how three veterinarians found success with them.

Adopted Dog Adapts Quickly

Leia was adopted through our local humane society at the beginning of the pandemic. She was very nervous for her first visit, and it didn’t help that we were performing all services curbside and wearing masks. To make things more interesting for Leia, she was also heartworm-positive. During her first few visits and treatments, we implemented many Fear Free practices such as pre-visit pharmaceuticals, utilizing the emotional medical record, and use of Adaptil and treats. For the first heartworm treatment we did have to sedate Leia due to her increased FAS score, but by her second and third injections, we were able to complete them both without sedation. Leia’s owners and our staff worked really hard to make this possible, and Leia returned for her microfilaria test with very low FAS and allowed us to draw blood on her without any FAS.

Allison Ruicker, DVM, Fear Free Certified Professional Level 3, VCA Woodland Central Animal Hospital, Tulsa, Oklahoma


Techniques for the Win

We had a patient presented for neutering after being choked down with a catch pole at another clinic and exhibiting FAS level of 5/5. The procedure was postponed and the patient acclimated to the environment and staff. PVPs were suggested yet not utilized due to drastic improvement in FAS at discharge. When presented at a later date for neutering, the patient had supposedly had his Trazadone dose. There were no complications at all and the patient had an FAS level of 0/5. The owner informed the staff that he found the PVP dose on the floor after he returned from dropping his dog off for surgery. In other words, what we saw on the day of surgery was purely a result of utilizing the Fear Free techniques.

William Hugh Washington, DVM, Elite Fear Free Certified Professional, Standifer Animal Clinic, Homewood, Alabama

Fear Free Aids in Teamwork, Communication

Fear Free has allowed my entire staff to grow and work better as a team. Eighty percent of my team has been certified, including veterinarians, LVTs, groomers, kennel workers, and CSRs. We have made emotional records that allow us to track our patients from each location in the hospital. We all feel that the animals are much calmer and allow care to be performed with more ease. It has allowed our team to tell clients, “No, we will not just hold your pet down for that procedure.” Everyone is now better educated to inform the owner that there is a better way for the pet and for us. The majority of the owners have appreciated the extra time and care shown to their pets.

Tammy Lons, DVM, Elite Fear Free Certified Professional, Tekonsha Animal Hospital, Tekonsha, Michigan

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This article was reviewed/edited by board-certified veterinary behaviorist Dr. Kenneth Martin and/or veterinary technician specialist in behavior Debbie Martin, LVT.

Kim Campbell Thornton is content manager for Fear Free Pets and is an Elite Fear Free Certified Professional. She has been writing about dogs, cats, wildlife, and marine life since 1985.

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