Thursday, 27 August 2009

Vet techs

I find it very worrying that some supposed to be vet techs have very little knowledge about cats.For example, this is part of an answer posted recently to a 'shall I declaw my cat' question.

In short,declawing is not cruel,and if done right by a competent vet,easily recovered from and they will not miss them or act like part of them is missing.Actually they will still try and sharpening their claws that they don't have.To add to my previous answer.You have to remember,it's your cat.If you want him declawed then do it.IT WILL NOT HURT THEM.
Vet tech,cat owner

This is supposed to be an educated professional person ! Surely anyone who knows much about cats knows they don't 'sharpen' their claws, they dig them in to exercise their leg,shoulder and back muscles and to remove the outer shard of the claws. They will not miss them or act like part of them is missing ? I thought this person said they would still try and sharpening their claws ??
'Easily recovered from' I think not ! IT WILL NOT HURT THEM' Which planet does this person live on ? It's the most painful operation a cat can endure ! She probably works for a vet (if she really IS a vet tech)who charges extra for the pain medication the poor cats need. Is she shouting in CAPITAL LETTERS, to convince herself ?

This inspired me to look closer into what training vet techs are supposed to have,this is from the AVMA:

But a fellow member of a group I am in, says:
Many vet techs in the USA are not 'trained' in a recognized training programme and many are 'trained' by the vets for which they work.Not all vets here are licensed techs but there seems to be a move toward tech training in training programmes(schools) and then take a license exam.There is a real shortage of good techs in the USA and many of the good ones are just getting experience and then go onto vet school. What is weird here is that veterinarians do not have to attend college.While it is preferable ,there is no requirement that a candidate for vet school have a college degree.

I found this with a google search:
I can promise you that an RVT has NEVER been able to legally spay,neuter, declaw, in Texas.This is the case in all states as surgery constitutes the practice of veterinary medicine and is only allowed to be performed by a licensed veterinarian.Unfortunately, there are lots and lots of misconceptions and blatant information about this profession all over the US and the laws governing the practice of veterinary medicine and veterinary technology are not covered extensively during on-the-job training or a formal education.Most states give you a list of statues/rules to familiarize yourself with prior to taking the state jurisprudence exam and leave it at that.
Cindy D. RVT
Texas Association of Registered Veterinary Technicians
This excerpt is from this link.

Yet I've read about one person starting work as a receptionist at a vets surgery,the vet tech quit her job and this person with absolutely no experience with animals was promoted to vet tech that same day.That surely can't be right ? Another vet tech reckoned she'd declawed cats, her own included.If this is true then both she and the vet she worked for were breaking the law that says only licenced vets are allowed to perform surgical procedures on animals.
From the AVMA site link above:
While a veterinary technician can assist in performing a wide variety of tasks, they cannot diagnose, prescribe, perform surgery, or engage in any activity prohibited by a state's practice act.

This is part of a supposed vet tech's blog:
'A love for animals is essential for anyone pursuing a degree in veterinary technology.You will spend most of your time around animals and should have a patient misdemeanor for pets experiencing pain or illness,as well as their owners'

Definition of the word misdemeanor or misdemeanour, in many common law legal systems,is a 'lesser' criminal act.
Mmmm, I suppose it IS a lesser criminal act to be holding a cat's paw up for its toe ends to be amputated,rather than being the one actually doing the amputations.But I don't think that's quite what the writer meant !
Sadly it was closed for comments as I'd liked to have pointed that out.

The obvious lack of education of these people is frightening.Many times on Yahoo Answers someone will answer a question with totally wrong sometimes even dangerous advice, then at the bottom where it says source ? they write'vet tech' or 'I work at a vets' I wonder what as ? A cleaner maybe ? A lot of young people are members on Yahoo Answers,they could so easily get the wrong idea from one of those so called 'knowledgeable about animals' people.Maybe some of them don't really work for vets, there's no way of proving it ! The ones who say declawing is just removing the nail, certainly have obviously never seen a declawing operation, nor have the ones who say it doesn't harm the cat.They maybe want to justify the fact their own poor cats are crippled by declawing because it's oh so much easier having a cat mutilated than having to bother about scratching posts.

There are some genuine animal loving vet techs who do give good advice,I'm not tarring them with the same brush, but ignorant people calling themselves vet techs do get genuine vet techs a bad reputation.


  1. Right on the subject as usual. It is terrifying to think of cats in these quasi vet technicians' care, subject to their bumbling fumbling unqualified mercies. Vets who allow this sort of thing to happen should be struck off, they make a lot of money for little effort of their own and compromise their professional oaths to boot. No wonder so many cats suffer crippling consequences from declawing when someone clueless is allowed to perform such a major procedure. Keep on telling it like it is Katt!

  2. This was brilliant! What a really thorough and accurate post, Ruth. I thought it covered everything that one needs to know. I am somewhat heartened, here in the USA at least, that certified and licensed technicians are a highly respected group of professionals and SO valuable to the vets for whom they assist.

    Of course many of these excellent techs do leave to go to veterinary school, and I do think that they will make exemplary vets. This said, those that are in practices where declawing is a commonplace prodedure, much like getting a haircut... sigh... the beat will go on and on.

    Fortunately my vet does not declaw. Her technicians, who are very smart and able, have followed in her footstep and all of them with whom I have spoken now deplore the surgery. It is all up to the vets to train their techs correctly, imho.

    In most practices here I learn that techs cannot even discuss the surgery with clients. They must refer questions to the vet, who is more than likely too busy to conference with clients.

    Of course there are specially gifted people that must start somewhere, but it is totally unethical for a vet, in my opinion to permit an untrained worker to touch any animal in their care other than transfering a pet to another cage, or when cleaning cages.

    My vet just lost her top technician to Vet school, but happily someone showed up with a wonderful resume, and she is worth her weight in all the catnip in the world:) We love her.

    Thanks again for a well written article, as ALWAYS.


  3. Hi Ruth, Thanks for this. I think that this problem is another piece in the jigsaw that makes it possible for veterinary surgeries to declaw cats. If a vet tech through incorrect information given to a client encourages declawing it just reinforces this horrible practice. There is a lot of misleading stuff coming from vets and the AVMA. Some of it is deliberate and some of it is due to ignorance.

  4. Excellent information, thanks for creating awareness about who some of these vet techs really are & what they are preaching to the public. I personally know a vet tech who declawed at the clinic he used to work for, the client thought the vet was doing the (mutilation) surgery. If he still worked there, I would report the vet. I'm sure it goes on all the time in the U.S.

  5. Spot on Ruth! Very good stuff. I've seen several self proclaimed "vet techs" spouting the most appallingly incorrect information about cat health online. In the last couple of days, I read one, advising a cat owner that FeLv was transmissable just by "touch".

    I believe many vet techs promote this mutilation to clients because they want to keep their jobs (working for a vet who declaws) and bringing in clients and their cash is a way of showing loyalty. I also believe that the general level of education amongst many vet techs is very low, leading to some of the misinformed tripe they spout such as "declaws just remove the nail" - I doubt many have much knowledge of feline anatomy, or even the most rudimentary knowledge of feline pain expression. To think some of them are wielding the scalpel or laser sickens me.

    The "misdemeanor" misuse kinda backs up the lack of education thoughts!