Four things I learned at the Wild West Veterinary Conference

Last week I attended the Wild West Veterinary Conference for most of the week.  This conference is held here in Reno every year, and I’ve heard it talked about by friends and clients in the veterinary field for years, but have never been able to attend until now.

Aside from learning more about the veterinary field and networking with other animal professionals, I learned a few things which changed the way I look at the veterinary profession.

  1.  I am really, really glad that we get to choose our own clients.  Trainers truly have a choice in who they work with.  If you’re not likely to comply with our instructions, or take poor care of your animal, or are abusive toward animals or us, or we feel we can’t work with you in any other way, we don’t have to. (And here at Fur and Feather Works, we won’t.  Although, that’s rarely a problem because our clients are awesome!) 🙂  Veterinarians don’t have this luxury.  They have to work with any human who has a sick or injured animal and they have no way of screening or interviewing their human clients beforehand.  This makes their job much harder than ours, in terms of compliance with instructions and human interaction.  The next time you’re tempted to be rude to your veterinary professional, please don’t.  And please follow their instructions.  They’re doing the best they can with the resources they have.
  2. The Fear Free initiative is on its way.  This is so incredibly important and so long overdue.  If we can train a giraffe to voluntarily give a blood sample, why are we still pinning down, muzzling, and terrifying dogs and cats, our “best friends?”  I will be only too happy to have my training business reduced because animals no longer need to be taught not to be terrified at the veterinarian.  If you’re a veterinary professional, click here to learn more. If you’re a conscientious pet owner, choose a veterinarian who is trying to follow these guidelines.
  3. People do unbelievably stupid things when it comes to pet care.  Good lord.  Research your species, people.   Ask your vet when it doubt.
  4. Veterinarians are curious about animal behavior problems and modification, and judging by the looks on their faces and their questions, find it as daunting as the average behavior consultant finds cancer treatments or reading a blood chem panel.  There was a very good turnout at the behavior seminars, and everyone was working together and thinking toward lessening animals’ emotional pain as well as the physical.  It was wonderful to see veterinarians choosing to spend their limited conference time learning to help animals who need help to heal mentally, as well as physically.  If you’re a pet owner, try to choose a veterinarian who does this kind of continuing education, instead of one who still does things the way they initially learned to do them in the ’60’s.  The same goes for your trainer.  Veterinarians and trainers need to work closely together sometimes, and this is most effective when everyone is on the same page and is properly educated.

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