Around two out of three vets in Blackpool were injured while treating the area’s furred and feathered friends last year, according to a new survey.
Research conducted by the British Veterinary Association (BVA) showed a whopping 70 per cent of vets in the area were injured at work in the last year – and one local vet says it’s simply part of the job.
When they think they’re being threatened, animals instincts come down to flight or fight
Veterinary surgeon Terry Ogdin says that “something can go from completely calm to completely crazy in no time” in his line of work.
Blackpool-based Terry, who works for veterinary charity PDSA, says injuries are an every day occurrence for vets, explaining: “Often in a veterinary situation animals remember the place. They associate us with negative experiences which can make them scared.
“When they think they’re being threatened, animals instincts come down to flight or fight. An animal that’s cornered or feels like it’s in danger acts accordingly.”
While most may expect dogs to be the biggest culprits, Terry says that is our feline friends who are normally the biggest danger.
“The worst injury was actually a cat bite that happened to me a few years ago,” he said. “I went to try and remove a cat from its carrier and it sunk its teeth into my thumb. I had to visit the emergency doctor for a tetanus jab and a course of antibiotics.
“I had a few days of being very poorly and not being able to move my hand”.
The survey suggested that more than 80 per cent of those questioned had been scratched and 61 per cent bitten, with 17 per cent of vets in the region describing their recent injuries as severe.
Terry says that this should not deter people considering joining the world of veterinary medicine though, saying: “Don’t let the dangers put you off. There are very few animals that attack purely from spite. If you behave with common sense and can read the signs, it’s a rewarding career path.”
The BVA is now looking to reduce workplace injuries by promoting better dialogue between owners and vets when animals are in the surgery.
BVA president John Blackwell said: “Vets accept the daily risk of injury at work, but these figures highlight just how common injuries are for vets who care for pets.
“Rather than simply accepting this as an occupational hazard, veterinary teams should ensure they are taking all appropriate measures to mitigate the risks of working with animals whenever possible. We also ask pet owners to work with us. The surgery can be a strange and unsettling place for animals and even the most usually placid pet can become nervous.
“If a vet is taking precautions, such as muzzling, it is to protect everyone and to ensure the animal in their care receives the very best treatment possible in a safe environment.”