Putting it into Action
Promoting the Human-animal Bond in Veterinary Practice
Thomas E. Catanzaro, DVM, MHA, FACHE, Diplomate American College of Healthcare Executives

There are those who are recommending against recognizing the human-companion animal bond. These are usually attorneys, and as such, should be suspect from the very beginning. As a matter of comparison, attorneys have been defining ethics for our profession for years, basing most of their pontifications on court rulings. Veterinarians know that ethics are not that easy, that they are bioethical (see Signature Series monograph, Professionalism, Bioethics and Image, VIN Press) and value driven. The human-animal bond is also value driven, defined by clients, and as such, any practice that listens to attorneys instead of their clients is not going to be successful with Pet Parents or their own staff.

The techniques to apply the human/companion animal bond to daily practice as discussed here are not all-inclusive, nor are techniques fail-safe methods to build a client-practice bond. The 26 appendices with practice programs cannot all be implemented at once; the practice leadership needs to select and implement one at a time. The sincere sharing of feelings will be accepted by the majority of our clients and, most often when exhibited appropriately and sincerely, will cause a client to keep a bond with the practice even after a pet's untimely death. Put yourself in the client's position and give the compassion that the stressful situation requires. Understand that awareness of the human/companion animal bond belongs in practice as well as in the family, in nursing homes or in other pet facilitated therapy programs.

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