Methods and Materials
Promoting the Human-animal Bond in Veterinary Practice
Thomas E. Catanzaro, DVM, MHA, FACHE, Diplomate American College of Healthcare Executives

Figure 2

Baseline concepts were developed from a 62-family survey. Survey questions were developed from the subjective responses to that family survey, and then the questions were expanded on the basis of professional health care experience of the military veterinarians, social workers, and psychiatry officers at the U.S. Army Health Services Command. The Questionnaire was refined into a 32-question, computer-ready format. To initiate the survey, 1500 copies of the military human/companion animal bond survey were distributed to 63 military installations; 961 client surveys were returned (64%). Also, it was requested that the supporting military veterinarian complete a survey and attempt to predict the average client's response; estimates were received from 86 veterinarians (50.2% response by veterinarians). The distribution of the client survey was conducted so that every person that walked through the door on a given morning was handed a survey and asked to complete it to the best of their ability.

The typical military veterinary facility (referred to as an Animal Disease Prevention and Control Facility) operates by appointment only, for approximately 12 to 16 composite hours during a week. The veterinarian was usually a new graduate, with the values, attitudes, and skills that have accumulated after four years of veterinary medical education. During the remainder of duty time (30 or more hours per week), the military veterinarian is scheduled to do community public health activities, such as sanitary inspections, zoonotic disease surveillance, hospital committee attendance, or supervision of enlisted personnel who do food inspection. Clients of the Department of Defenses and the scope of services are unique in that failure to register an animal can cause an owner to be severely punished. Most veterinary facilities on military installations are permitted only to conduct diagnostic procedures until the causative agent is identified. If a zoonotic or economically significant disease is identified or if an organism that causes the spread of a potentially zoonotic organism is suspected and the acute condition can be readily cured, the veterinarian may treat the animal; however, if a non-zoonotic condition is diagnosed or treatment would require long-term care, it is requested that the facility refer the case. For these diagnostic and vaccination services, the average client paid fees approximate to the large format retailers (LFR) in the area (approximate 24% of military clients are eligible for food stamps).

The art of veterinary medicine has been defined in many ways, but for the sake of this discussion, it will be defined as the veterinarian's ability to detect the client's bond with his or her pet, and how that bond may influence the decision process on patient care. Respondents were asked to place an X on a line below the words (Always, Usually, Sometimes, Never) most usually representing their feelings.

Figure 1

This format was used throughout the survey to better identify the trends. Accuracy was increased by dividing the line into at least 10 segments when quantifying the responses for computer tabulation. Exceptional ratings were required to be on the left or right 20% of the line; responses marked on the center 60% were considered neutral.


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Thomas E. Catanzaro, DVM, MHA, FACHE, Diplomate American College of Healthcare Executives

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