It shouldn’t happen to a vet - the risks from our beloved pets

Photo Neil Cross'Vet Mandy Skinner of Withy Grove Vet Clininc, Bamber Bridge, with Amun Ra, a saluki pup
Photo Neil Cross'Vet Mandy Skinner of Withy Grove Vet Clininc, Bamber Bridge, with Amun Ra, a saluki pup
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AROUND two out of three vets in Lancashire were injured while treating the county’s furred and feathered friends, 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 say the situation could be even worse.

Veterinary surgeon Amanda Skinner, who words at Withy Grove Veterinary Clinic in Station Road, Bamber Bridge, said getting scratched and biten is “all part of the job.”

She said: “The majority of cases are just ‘oh dear, I’ve just been bitten again’ but we’ve all been injured at some point or another ­ badly enough to need treatment. It just comes with the territory.

“We’ve had incidents where cats have quite badly injured us as well as a few dog bites.”

Amanda of course holds no grudges against her patients, explaining that animals have a good memory and usually link a visit to the vets with something unpleasant.

“No matter how you look at it veterinary surgeries are not a comfort zone for animals,” she said. “They have scary associations with us - we are doing things to them when they’re upset and hurt and they just lash out.

“I’d probably bite the dentist if he didn’t sue me.”

According to the survey 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 described their recent injuries as severe.

While most would think dogs and cats the biggest culprits, Amanda says that rabbits are also not to be reckoned with, saying: “Two weeks before my wedding, I refused point blank to deal with rabbits so I passed them to my colleagues.

“They scratch with their back legs and I didn’t want to walk up the aisle covered in scratches.”

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.”