Vice President of Media Strategy, NAVC
Patricia Wuest was the Vice President of Media Strategy at the NAVC until retiring in 2022.Read Articles Written by Patricia Wuest
Greenhaven veterinary nurse Katalina Stuckey, CVT, began her Fear Free certification in 2018 and the clinic became a Fear Free certified practice in 2019. “We see ourselves as the animal’s advocate and only want the best for them,” Stuckey says. “Our mission is to enhance to lives of people and animals and provide progressive care.”
Case in point: Tessie, a canine patient at Greenhaven before it was Fear Free. “She was fear conditioned to the vet’s office,” Stuckey says. “Needles are her trigger and she doesn’t like to be touched.”
Once the Greenhaven team started its Fear Free certification process, Tessie benefited from techniques they had been shown. “We learned Tessie would accept a basket muzzle with squeeze cheese or peanut butter in it and we could safely and without restraint sedate her,” says Stuckey. “Tessie gets the best progressive care this way, including urinalysis, bloodwork, vaccinations — and her nails trimmed, another thing she is not fond of.”
But best of all for Stuckey is that Tessie began to allow the veterinary nurse to touch her and feed her treats without biting. “As a technician, this makes my heart happy,” Stuckey says. “It’s such a win — not only does she get the best veterinary care now, the owners are also happy.”
What Is Fear Free?
Founded by Dr. Marty Becker and developed by hundreds of experts in behavior, medicine, and handling, Fear Free offers online and in-person education to veterinary professionals, the pet professional community, animal shelter staff and volunteers, and pet owners. Fear Free provides both professionals and pet lovers alike with the knowledge and tools to look after a pet’s physical and emotional wellbeing.
Since 2016, Fear Free has provided online and in-person education to more than 85,000 veterinary and pet professionals. Both individuals and veterinary practices can become Fear Free Certified.
Greenhaven Animal Clinic, along with its sister locations, Best Friends Animal Hospital in Lincoln, Illinois, and Prairiehaven Animal Hospital, in Sherman, Illinois, are all certified Fear Free practices that have benefited from learning techniques that keep pets and staff safer and happier.
“We have seen better medical care long term for our patients,” says Stuckey. “Less stress for the pets, owners, and staff. No more scratches and bites! No holding and animal down for anything. Owner compliance is better. We see the once ‘aggressive’ — and now we know they are fearful — patient that we saw once every couple years, to every 6 or 12 months now.”
Data Backs Up the Claims
But that’s not the only advantage. According to a two-year-long study outlined in a special report entitled “The Continual Business Growth of Fear Free Certified Practices,” these practices continue to show growth across major industry KPIs after implementing Fear Free techniques.
To identify participants for this study, VetSuccess, a data and analytics company specializing in the delivery of data-driven practice management solutions, matched existing clients to the list of Fear Free Certified Practices. In addition, Fear Free reached out to all other Certified Practices to encourage participation. From these two lists, 25 veterinary practices in the United States and Canada participated in the study.
In addition to 10% growth in number of patients per practice, Fear Free Certified Practices saw a 16% increase in revenue per practice and 8% increase in total invoice value after two years.
Compared to the benchmark practices who don’t utilize Fear Free techniques, Fear Free Certified Practices outperform in every category, including lab, vaccine, and exam revenue.
“Because of the benefits to patients, clients, and veterinary team members, Fear Free lets practices do well by doing good,” said Dr. Marty Becker in a press release. “By providing for animals’ emotional and physical welfare, practices can thrive and not just survive.”
“As a technician I can focus on getting samples or X-rays correctly and efficiently,” says Stuckey. “Surgical patients are more calm. Puppies and kittens are handled and seen more — and they love coming.”
The process for a practice to get Fear Free certification is similar to American Animal Hospital Association accreditation.
“I absolutely recommend every practice go the Fear Free route,” says Stuckey. “Why wouldn’t you want the best for your patient? Happy staff, happy owners, happy pets — all because we wanted to be better for our patients. I have so many wins now!”
To learn more about the study and read the report, visit fearfreepets.com/practice-certification.