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Fear Free: Inspiring and Educating


Fear Free has a newly announced mission statement:

“Prevent and alleviate fear, anxiety and stress in pets by inspiring and educating the people who care for them.”

Fear-Free-logoIt’s really a trend, veterinary professionals are becoming Fear Free certified every day. It’s the right thing to do for themselves, and both their human and animal clients.

Here’s the thing – some pets are terrified at the vet clinic. And here’s what happens: fear, anxiety and stress beget further fear, anxiety and stress…it’s contagious and it grows. So, if the pet is anxious, the veterinary staff are anxious, and then the pet owner becomes more anxious which the pet picks up on and becomes even more anxious, and on and on – it all snowballs.

Understand, it doesn’t need to be this way. happy-cat

Veterinary behaviorist Dr. Debra Horwitz – one of many leading veterinarians communicating Fear Free principals across America told me, “I’ve not met a veterinarian who doesn’t want to help pets and make them feel better, not make them fearful.” Horwitz, also a contributing editor of “Decoding Your Dog” (with Dr. John Ciribassi and myself) authored by members of the American College of Veterinary Behaviorists adds “I know it doesn’t need to be this way.”

That is what the Fear Free movement is all about. Veterinary professions learn what they can do to alleviate fear, anxiety and stress – this covers everything from using pheromone products Feliway (for cats) and Adaptil (for dogs) to lessen stress; to non-skid surfaces in exam rooms; to ultra vaccines with less volume (they’re faster and with less volume and hurt less) to teaching veterinarians and veterinary nurses about less invasive handling techniques….and the list goes on.

Dr. Marty Becker

Dr. Marty Becker

“We had over 800 veterinary professionals register and 110 complete the certification course in the first month alone,” said Fear Free founder Dr. Marty Becker. “Seeing this become a reality for the profession I love is the pinnacle of my nearly 37 years as a veterinarian.”

The very first veterinarian to complete the certification was Dr. Kathryn Primm of Applebrook Animal Hospital in Ooltewah, TN, who finished the 8-module course and successfully passed the certification exam at 4:15 AM the day certification launched.

Dr. Natalie Marks

Dr. Natalie Marks

Does it matter? Fear Free veterinarian Dr. Natalie Marks of Blum Animal Hospital in Chicago cheerfully says, “Oh yes it has matters!”

“Everyone wins,” adds Becker. “Veterinarians and the entire staff win, and what we do is safer for ourselves; the pets clearly win, and so does the entire profession.”

More Fear Free on my site.

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Steve Dale is a certified animal behavior specialist who has been a trusted voice in the world of pet health for over 20 years. You have likely heard him on the radio, read him in print and online, and seen him speaking at events all over the world. His contributions to advancing pet wellness have earned him many an award and recognition around the globe.

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