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Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Who Knows Best?

A reader made this comment on another topic, and I thought it was worth addressing.

Except my vet doesn't think that I am smart enough nor know my pet well enough to hold it for him!!!Buddy, I know MY dog. And yes, he might snap. I'm no pushover, if you know what's best for you, you'd best let me doing the holdin'!

Not to be rude, but this is absolutely the wrong attitude to have.  Most veterinarians won't let owners hold their pets because of safety, not because we don't think an owner is smart enough.  In fact, I will generally refuse to see an aggressive pet if the owner won't let us restrain.

There are certain ways to properly hold a pet, and certain ways not do.  This is important for the safety of the pet as well as the safety of anyone around them.  If a person isn't restraining properly both that pet and anyone nearby could be injured, potentially even severely.  Veterinarians and their staff undergo training to use proper restraint techniques and have extensive experience.  When one of my staff isn't doing proper restraint, I'll work on correcting them, and all of my experienced staff are extremely good at safely keeping pets from harming anyone.  I'm sorry for any hurt feelings, but very few pet owners have this kind of training. 

Now this isn't true of all pet owners.  I do have some that I will allow to do part of the restraint.  However those are the exception rather than the rule, and if the pet is really trying to bite or scratch I'm going to trust my staff far more than I'm going to trust a client.  And if it means losing that client because they won't let us do the restraint, I'll wave bye to them as they leave.

Besides safety, there is a major liability issue for the vet.  People have sued and won because they were injured by their own pets during a veterinary visit.  And don't say "well, I wouldn't sue if that happened."  I have read reports from the AVMA liability insurance where a client would refuse to let the veterinary staff hold their pet and insist on doing it themselves even knowing the risk.  The pet then injured the client (despite warnings from the vet) and the client turned around and sued the vet because the vet should have known better and not let them do it.  I've seen examples of this numbers of times, so it wasn't an isolated incidence.  I'm not willing to risk my license and my livelihood to prevent someone's hurt feelings.

So if you come into my office and your pet might bite, be prepared to let us hold it. 


  1. I've used the same vet clinic for 30+ years and have seen lots of changes in clinic practice. I used to restrain my pets for the drs, but that was before the hiring of veterinary techs and assistants. I have no problem letting the techs do their jobs. Thank you for your blog, I really emjoy reading about your work and learning how to be a 'good' client.

  2. You really are great at explaining things. I guess thats why you want to teach?
    I agree. Thankfully I dont have a dog thats aggressive towards humans but the vet would know much better than I how to restrain a dog.
    pet co is being sued by a woman that adopted a cat. The cat bit her after a few weeks at home and now she says petco should have known it was a feral cat.
    So I am sure there are people out there that would sue the pants off you and anyone else they can think of.

  3. I agree. If I get bit and can't work, then I've got a problem. Not worth it.

  4. Just saw your post...

    I appreciate your points, I truly do.

    Like K., after some thirty-odd years, I was accustomed to restraining my own pets and when I had to watch and new, inexperienced, untrained, scared assistant hold down my dog (that I happened to know, love and understand), it just didn't seem to make sense.

    By the way, I love your blog too. Keep up the good work.


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