Roo + Fear Free: Joining forces to provide relief to pets and veterinary professionals

Dr. Jennifer Merlo & Ross Zimmerman
June 6, 2024

We’re very excited to be joining forces with Fear Free to give veterinary professionals even more control to practice how they want!

It really is a purrfect fit — Fear Free is dedicated to making vet visits less stressful for pets, providing real relief to patients, while our mission at Roo has always been to provide real relief to the people who care for pets. By giving vets and techs a way to take control of their careers and helping hospitals stay productive while giving time off, we hope to reduce both burnout and anxiety industry-wide. Similarly, Fear Free offers online education to veterinary and pet professionals, helping them alleviate fear, anxiety, and stress in animals, thereby ensuring they receive the care they need.

Fear Free Certification Discounts & New Features for Roo Users

As part of this team-up, all Roo members will get discounts on Fear Free membership registration and renewals! Log in to your Roo account for more details.

Professionals and hospitals practicing Fear Free medicine can now easily connect through Roo! Roo Vets, Techs, and Hospitals can now display Fear Free Certifications on their profiles and filter their search results by Fear Free accreditation to make Fear Free matching a snap! This means certified vets and techs will be able to quickly find shifts at Fear Free Certified Veterinary Practices if that’s your preference, and hospitals will be able to easily find vets and techs who are trained to provide care that meets their hospital’s standards.

Roo App Fear Free Certification Badges in profiles
“Fear Free really has helped us advance patient care with an emphasis on compassion and empathy. When we didn't have other options, a muzzle was often the first and only real choice for handling scared animals. We had a ‘get it on, get this over with’ mentality at times. With Fear Free, we now have an entire tool chest of options for managing and caring for fearful patients in the office. They’ve done a lot of good for the industry.”

- Dr. Andrew Findlaytor, Roo Director of Veterinary Strategy

How to work relief as a Fear Free Certified Veterinarian or Technician

We sat down with Dr. Jennifer Merlo, Fear Free’s Director of Veterinary Affairs to get her take on how Roo Vets and Techs can best navigate the intersection of Fear Free and relief work.  

In your words, why is Fear Free important? 

Fear Free is changing pet care worldwide and in doing so, we are positively impacting those who interact with animals by strengthening the human-animal bond. As Fear Free continues to bring an animal's welfare and emotional wellbeing to the forefront of discussions, we will continue to see animal handling evolve as well as the education we are providing to those who work with animals in all settings. Our goal is to continue to promote positive animal handling and consideration for the overall wellbeing of every animal on the planet. 

What are the advantages to being Fear Free Certified as a relief veterinarian who provides healthcare at a variety of hospitals? 

Relief veterinarians have a unique opportunity to bring new, innovative ideas to every practice they work in. They are a strong workforce of Fear Free ambassadors who can educate pet owners, veterinary care staff, and veterinary colleagues on Fear Free techniques where they would otherwise not be exposed. By introducing even small portions of Fear Free into the clinic's workflows, these doctors can help change the experience for pets and help advocate for more veterinary professionals to seek certification. 

Relief veterinarians can often be the turning point for clinics to research Fear Free. When I was working as a relief veterinarian, many veterinary care professionals would incorporate the Fear Free techniques I taught them into their everyday workflows and treatment of their own pets at home thereby increasing the overall awareness of Fear Free within the animal care ecosystem. 

What are your recommendations for relief vet techs or assistants who typically work under a variety of DVMs and/or Lead Techs? 

The expectation for medical care and focus is often set by the veterinarian in charge — whether that is a relief veterinarian or the associate veterinarian/practice owner on duty for any given shift. That being said, I have worked in many practices in which the veterinary technicians and/or assistants are strong advocates for patient care, especially when it involves handling. 

Fear Free Certified Veterinarians can help those paraprofessionals who are not certified by providing them confidence to advocate for their patients and provide guidance on how to communicate their desire for incorporating Fear Free into the practice going forward. 

What can a Fear Free Certified Relief Professional do in a non-Fear Free Clinic to still live up to their Fear Free standards? 

I encourage all Fear Free Certified Professionals to create a Fear Free kit that travels with them from clinic to clinic. This usually includes items like non-slip mats, lots of treats, licky mats, toys, and pheromones. Professionals can also download and print out patient report cards, emotional medical records, and the FAS scale to bring with them to use at practices. 

Fear Free Certified Professionals can also educate clients by referring them to Fear Free Happy Homes to read about additional resources for their pets and help them advocate for their pets with their veterinarians.

What are some of the challenges they should anticipate in this situation?  

Often, the common challenge is doing something different than what the clinic is used to and/or what the staff or pet owners have come to expect. It's important to remind staff and pet owners that "different" isn't necessarily bad and that Fear Free aims to advocate for the pet's emotional wellbeing. 

As a relief veterinarian, it is important to consider that your client is the practice you are working at, so maintaining a balance between advocating for Fear Free while respecting their workflows is important. In those instances, trying to incorporate a small change such as pheromones or treats may be a win, rather than pushing for a drastic change in workflow. 

Take time as Fear Free Relief Veterinarians to explain 'why' you want to incorporate Fear Free techniques into your patient care that day and show those around you the difference it can make. Often, seeing is believing for those who have not been exposed previously and/or those who may think it will not work.

How to work with relief professionals as a Fear Free Certified Practice

What are the advantages of being Fear Free Certified as an animal hospital? 

Fear Free works best when all team members are implementing it throughout the practice — by pursuing Fear Free Veterinary Practice Certification, all team members are working together under a set of Standard Operating Protocols that put the pet's emotional wellbeing at the forefront of decision-making.  

How can a Fear Free Certified Practice get the most out of a non-certified healthcare professional?

Fear Free Certified Veterinary Practices (FFCVPs) want to ensure that all staff, even relief staff, adhere to the Fear Free principles in place. FFCVPs should have clear SOPs outlining how procedures are to be done within their practice and utilize their Fear Free Champions to help non-certified professionals learn more about Fear Free and how to incorporate it into their workflows as well. 

FFCVPs also have the advantage of unlimited memberships for all veterinary care team members, which means any relief staff they utilize can receive a membership to Fear Free to complete their veterinary certification.

By partnering with Roo, practices can be ensured that the relief staff they are utilizing are Fear Free Certified and therefore align with their protocols.  

Can happier animals positively impact the mental health of veterinary professionals? 

ABSOLUTELY! As a veterinary professional who was very burnt out prior to discovering Fear Free, incorporating Fear Free into my career brought back the passion I had felt as a new graduate. Happier animals and happier pet parents made work fun again and led to a renewed spirit of joy when I came to work. It truly was, and still is, life changing.

Dr Jennifer Merlo Fear Free Director of Veterinary Affairs
Dr. Jennifer Merlo, Fear Free Director of Veterinary Affairs

If you’re already Fear Free Certified, log in to update your profile today to let other Roo users know! And if you’re not certified yet or have a renewal coming up this year, be sure to check our app for discount codes to save on your membership or renewal! Once again, this is just one of the many ways Roo puts you first.

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