Insights from our Fear Free Certified Practices!

Island Hammock Pet Hospital and Pet Care Veterinary Hospital are both Fear Free Certified Practices! This designation shows commitment to preventing and alleviating fear, stress, and anxiety in their patients, and promoting educational opportunities for those who care for them. Fear Free Certified Practices have successfully implemented Fear Free into all aspects of their business. This includes culture and leadership, client education, staff training, facility, and patient visits. Keep reading to hear from Michelle Koon, Practice Manager at Island Hammock, and Perry Ritchie, LVT at Pet Care Veterinary Hospital about what it’s like to work at a Fear Free Certified Practice!

Michelle: Island Hammock has always been “Fear Free minded” but taking the extra steps to become a certified practice really upped our game. Our team members are happy to be able to boast that we don’t “just get it done.”

Perry: I am very proud to work at a practice who’s team is fully certified and to be 1 of 2 Encore practices with this designation. It conveys increased training and knowledge of the team, and puts our patients first.

In your opinion, what is the best part about being a Fear Free Certified Practice?

Michelle: Happier patients and clients – repeatedly hearing how our patients love coming to see us – especially when “they were always afraid or hated going to the vet before.”

Perry: The partnership with clients! They feel involved in their pets’ care and trust us to interpret their pets’ emotional needs. And I love it when the pets want to come see us.

What are your clients thoughts around your Fear Free mindset and processes?

Michelle: Our clients tell us every day how much their pets love coming to see us, and we often hear that they never liked going to the vet until they started coming here. Some of them ask for their (pheromone infused) bandanas as soon as they check in, and I’ve never had a client decline an infused towel for their cats carrier or being put right in a room to make the cat more comfortable- they’re always happy when we offer anything to make it more pleasant.

Perry: The majority are compliant. We make sedation cost effective and we give the clients lots of resources and educate them on the “why.” If they don’t agree and it’s a staff safety issue, they might not be a good fit for our practice.

Some have an assumption that utilizing Fear Free techniques is less efficient – what would you say to that?

Michelle: Once the staff understands and is all on board it really doesn’t take extra time in most cases. It’s more of a mindset in my opinion. Considerate approach doesn’t mean you have to move slow. Setting up the room only takes a minute and the pets are so much more at ease when they come into a room full of treats and pheromones. Plus we aren’t spending time wrestling with fearful or aggressive pets or having 3 techs to hold one pet.

Perry: It depends – it is efficient if you utilize your staff appropriately and have good drugs/protocols. Sedation allows for diagnostic imaging and accurate BP/Blood work results, so it is worth the extra time.

Do you notice any difference in the overall work environment/culture being Fear Free Certified?

Michelle: Overall, our employees are happier and more fulfilled. They love that we are not forcing procedures on pets. A number of our Techs have told me how much more rewarding it is to work at a Fear Free practice 🙂

Perry: Absolutely! As a team, we prioritize our culture, but now also with FF certifications, we are able to collaborate, trust each others’ instincts, educate/train new staff, and since we aren’t stressing our patients or being injured by them, our quality of life at work is far better.


The Fear Free Practice Certification has transformed the experiences of both patients and staff at Island Hammock Pet Hospital and Pet Care Veterinary Hospital, showcasing a commitment to compassionate care and a positive work environment. From happier patients and clients to increased staff fulfillment and safety, the benefits of Fear Free Certified Practices are undeniable.