By Tabitha Kucera
During my seven years as an RVT, I have worked at small-animal practices and farm sanctuaries and volunteered with various rescue groups. In the past few years, I started to realize how many animals are euthanized because behavioral issues are misdiagnosed and body language is misread. This realization sparked my interest in animal behavior and training. I first heard about Fear Free at NAVC in 2015 and was beyond excited to become certified. I became a technician to help animals, and with Fear Free I saw that I could help them both physically and emotionally.
After obtaining my Fear Free certification, I became a better technician and even more of an asset to my hospital. Fear Free has given me the knowledge needed to note signs of fear, anxiety and stress. This allows me to better understand my patients, which in turn allows for a more comfortable and calm patient. When patients are less fearful and stressed, they are easier to handle, we can obtain more accurate readings of vital signs, they recover more quickly, and they are generally happier to be in our care. We are all in this field because we love animals, so it takes a toll on us to see them fearful and stressed. Fear Free helps to limit that fear, anxiety and stress, resulting in more rewarding careers for us as caregivers.
Being a Fear Free-certified tech has also given me the opportunity to educate people about their animal’s emotional state and alert them to abnormal and normal behaviors. With this knowledge, owners are more likely to recognize and seek help in alleviating their pet’s anxieties and fears.
It is important to renew your Fear Free membership as a technician so you can continue your certification. With the arrival of Fear Free practices, it is a great time to be a veterinary technician. Being certified keeps you ahead of the curve. You will be listed in the Fear Free directory where clients and other veterinary professionals can find you. You will continue to have access to the helpful toolbox and resources, including the Fear Free online community. This community is a wonderful place to share ideas, get feedback, and talk with like-minded Fear Free-certified professionals. Lastly, with renewal you can obtain your level 2 Fear Free certification, which provides continuing education related to Fear Free topics. Fear Free has helped me to become a better technician by helping me to understand and appropriately acknowledge the emotional state of my patients, educate owners to give their pets a better life, and given me a support structure to help put these practices into my daily routine.