“This isn’t a scary place. These aren’t scary people. They’re just trying to help you, Buddy, try to stay still. Why are you putting that on him? Why are there four people restraining my 40-pound dog? He’s just scared”!
I think we can all relate to an experience that looks fairly similar to this example. But wouldn’t it be a dream come true if your pet hopped into their carrier or the car, enjoyed the sights and the smells, jumped out and dashed for our door and the only noise they made were sounds of pure anticipation? Well, we’re here folks; The future is nigh! And that future is called Fear Free.
Fear Free is a program that provides education to the pet professional community and pet owners alike to take the “Pet Out of Petrified”. Literally an organization that revolves around the emotional well-being of your pet … I’ll repeat myself for the people in the back … REVOLVES AROUND THE EMOTIONAL WELL-BEING OF YOUR PET!!!!! Speaking as a fur mom of both a very picky kitty and a very large lab Newfie mix, I feel both protective of my pets and those who have to deal with my anxious “puppy”.
When I started working in the veterinary field at Trenton Pet Hospital, I saw the words “Fear Free” a lot. Dr. Jinni spoke so highly of this program and was already implementing its methods before I joined the TPH family. This was what I knew a veterinary hospital to look like. But I didn’t understand something fully … Not every clinic does this.
Let me just put a little disclaimer in here really quick: Veterinary practices who don’t practice the textbook Fear Free methods are not evil or bad!! In fact, most practices have their own version of “Fear Free” that works for them … and this reality is enough to make me smile from ear to ear! But the patented Fear Free program is what I am talking about here.
When you step through our doors, this is what you’ll see:
Mid hanging chandeliers cascading from 20-foot ceilings lit to only enhance the natural lighting in our lobby. The coloured walls spill with bright, eye-catching colours that were chosen specifically for the purpose of projecting a certain mood. Just passed the door you see our Fear Free Welcome Station. This is a series of 3 treat dispenses hung just above our weight scale with several selections of tasty treats to choose from. Above that, you have our Adaptil bandanas. Adaptil is a natural pheromone for dogs (Feliway is the kitty brand) that emits a scent that humans can’t detect that naturally calms dogs. You can use this Adaptil to spray on yourself, spray on a bandana to put on your pooch, or both! As you enter the treatment room, you will see Adaptil diffusers set into the wall and enough space to let your pet explore comfortably. You will also notice that there is classical music in the air and a pile of Tupperware holding mountains of different treats. When the technician enters the room, they address you and will only say hi to your pet if they are approached or if there is a minimal sign of fear, anxiety or stress (FAS). We score your pet from 0-5 on the FAS scale and put it into their file for the doctor to review PRIOR to walking into that room. We encourage with treats, light touches, calm sounds and never ever force your pet to do something that puts their anxiety through the roof.
This is beyond customer and client care … this is passion, compassion, and love at it’s finest.
After being apart of the Fear Free community for the past six months, I can confidently say that this should be the norm. Our slogan is “Devoted to Pets and Their People” and following Fear Free methods is a prime example of how we practice this not just in our clinic, but also in our day to day lives.