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vet handling techniques

September 19, 2011

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Healing Hands Require More Than Medicine

By Sherrie Yuschak RVT, VTS (Behavior)

Does the veterinary technician handling your fearful or rambunctious pet know how to effectively give necessary medical treatment with as little stress to your pet as possible? He/she would if they are a participating member of the Society of Veterinary Behavior Technicians (SVBT). For 10 years, this veterinary technician organization has offered education regarding scientifically-sound, positive behavioral management a top priority.

The founding technicians have even fought for and succeeded at creating a specialty in behavior medicine that technicians can earn to document their behavior commitment. (This title is designated by the initials VTS [Behavior]) SVBT was partly created out of necessity as veterinary technician programs (and vet schools for that matter) provide very little education regarding animal behavior. 

Most students only learn basic handling techniques designed to “get the medical job done” and rudimentary behavior information (such as cats who urinate outside of the litter box may have a bladder ailment or be stressed about something). This design flaw leaves the medical team ill equipped to handle Fearful Fluffy or Rambunctious Rufus in a manner that doesn’t make her more afraid, anxious or even aggressive.

veterinary behavior studiesA veterinary technician/veterinarian must take it upon themselves to seek out additional behavior education and sorting through the sea of information; this can seem daunting.  Some veterinary members choose only current, modern information while others attach to any gimmick or lay advice. 

Since there is no standard of care for behavioral treatment in veterinary medicine (short of preventing abuse) it’s in your best interest to inquire what your veterinarian AND veterinary technicians’ behavioral education level is. Your furry family will thank you for the proactive advocacy and you will have a deeper appreciation of the veterinary hospital -- knowing the staff effectively addresses ALL of your pets’ health care needs with compassion and excellence!

For more information regarding the Society of Veterinary Technicians, direct your veterinary hospital to

ABOUT SHERRIE: Animals are my passion! My inspiration for behavior medicine was ignited long ago by my four dog rescue family. They taught me so many life lessons beyond the scope of books including unconditional love, compassion, and above all patience! For 14 years I was a small animal Registered Veterinary Technician in Ohio following my graduation from Morehead State University with an Associate of Applied Sciences degree. This past July I attained a huge career goal by earning my Specialty status as a Behavior Technician, a process which takes five years of preparation.

I am currently the President Elect of the Society of Veterinary Behavior Technicians where I also serve on several committees. Within the past year I have moved to two different states and currently reside in North Carolina with my husband, a retired greyhound, a cat and two rats. They are all helping me work toward a lifelong dream of owning a small farm where I can enjoy the company of goats, chickens, horses, a garden and the other splendors of nature.

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