What goes on in the back? Nothing, the same thing that goes on in the front. We do not treat your pets any differently. When you do see what’s in the back at MVH, I am pretty sure you’ll be impressed and I have a feeling you’ll come to understand that “we practice as if you’re always right there!”
As a veterinarian, I have heard a lot of myths and rumors about what goes on in the back. The idea that we would ever intentionally harm your pet absurd to us. I would like to shed a little light on the dark mystery of “the back room!”
What is “the back?”
It simply refers to a portion of the hospital designed for treatments and procedures. It usually has better lights, tubs, tables, and extra equipment that would be too difficult to stock in a small exam room. Its also to provide an easy-clean area for procedures that can get messy or smelly. We all have known a dog or cat that has released his/her anal glands, defecated or urinated while at the vet; they particularly like to do this during procedures. For me, this area has computers I use to input physical exam findings and lab work results while I am performing the test so that I don’t forget anything important. This helps save time and contributes to increased efficiency and productivity, leading to shorter wait times for you. The back tends to be a place to find additional staff members to help hold onto a leash or a patient, get supplies, or even to distract your pet with a soothing voice. Most procedures such as blood draws, radiographs, and even nail trimming are a two or three person job.
Your pet may be less stressed in the back!
This something I say to most owners and has received the most opposition. But believe it or not, your pet may actually be much more difficult (or even dangerous) to handle in your presence, either because they are trying to protect you or is sensing your concern for them. For many pets, getting away from Mom or Dad and being handled by a confident, experienced, animal-loving veterinary technician means getting the procedure done faster and with less stress for everyone. This is especially true if needles or medical procedures gross you out. They feed off your anxiety.
Whats that noise from the back?
Some dogs and cats are vocal and make a lot of noise. Ironically these sounds come mostly before we even touch your pet. We have cages and leash tie-ups in the back and if your dog is not used to them or does not like them, they will let you know about it. It does not mean we are hurting them or scaring them. Most animals resist restraint if they have not been trained for things like nail trims, blood draws, or anal gland expression. If you ever heard a kitten getting its nail trimmed it can be quite a production. But I assure you, most of the screaming comes before we ever touch them. Anyone who has taken their child to the doctor for a vaccine can relate!
Why can’t I hold my pet?
In truth, most owners are really bad at restraining their animals at the vet’s office. And even though your pet may not bite you (which is not always the case) that doesn’t mean he/she won’t bite me or my staff. We work with dozens of animals daily, precautions must be universal because all it takes is one serious injury to deform and severely injure someone or ruin a career.
The back is often a bustling location in a vet hospital, but when necessary, can also be transformed into one of the quietest areas. It’s an excellent place to listen for heart murmurs or abnormal breath sounds without worrying you with my “concentration face!”
We are not hurting them!
I have never worked at a place where they were abusing animals, it just doesn’t happen. In fact, we are active animal advocates going above and beyond to help you, your pet, and those animals without owners. We are champions for animal rights and most of us are double and triple over foster failures. We have pets of our own and we take them to the back and they get the same routine as everyone else. But animals just like children and they don’t always cooperate even when doing something that is good for them (especially when it is good for them, like vaccines). It is a stressful job and like teachers, social worker, etc most veterinary staff are overworked, at times underappreciated, and underpaid.
The bottom line is that there isn’t anything going on in the back that you should worry about. Your veterinarian has nothing to hide and a lot to be proud of in a modern, well-run practice. If you’re curious about what the back room looks like, ask for a tour! While there may be times when it’s not possible to go behind the scenes (other sick pets, emergencies and such), you’ll likely be able to see it all without any hassle or opposition. Again “we practice as if you’re always right there.”