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Fear Free Veterinary Practice Certification

Fear Free Veterinary Practice Certification

A MASSIVE first for GVC – We are the first Fear Free Certified Veterinary Practice in the MENA region and the only one outside of North America and the UK (for now)…!!

Yes, we are immensely proud to have been officially recognized as a Fear Free Certified Veterinary Practice.

The Fear Free organization was founded in 2016 by Dr Marty Becker, with a mission to “prevent and alleviate fear, anxiety, and stress in pets by inspiring and educating the people who care for them.” with the evidence-based rationale being:

As anyone working in veterinary practice is acutely aware, these (veterinary) visits can cause significant stress to animals. Research has found less than 50 percent of dogs were observed willingly entering a veterinary practice, and 73 percent of cat owners have reported impaired welfare in the waiting area, which rises to 85 percent during clinical examination (Feilberg et al., 2021).

The adoption of Fear Free Veterinary Care has, in only a few years, been evidenced to positively impact patient care and as a result, patient outcomes:

“Fear Free has become one of the single most transformative initiatives in the history of companion animal practice, providing unparalleled education on emotional wellbeing, enrichment, and the reduction of fear, anxiety, and stress in pets and improving the experience of every human and pet involved.” (

With this being the case, we are delighted to have achieved this prestigious and internationally recognized certification, recognition which demonstrates that GVC, representative of the UAE veterinary profession, is at the forefront of global standards.

In 2018 Dr Katrin Jahn, had the vision to bring Fear Free veterinary care to the UAE. Late in 2018, GVC’s Fear Free journey started with the enrollment of every member of the team on the Fear Free Veterinary Professionals Certification (which is now standard training for all GVC team members) and by making Fear Free considerations a new normal for the provision of patient care.

“One of the most difficult things to do in veterinary medicine is to move on from traditional and sometimes outdated approaches that you have been using since graduation and open your mind to a better way of doing things. Continuous improvement is an ethos we live by every day.” Dr Katrin Jahn

This was an excellent starting point and quickly had a positive impact on patient and owner experiences, not to mention the boost for the GVC team who discovered new ways to bring joy to their work with a focus on patient wellbeing as well as physical health. However, whilst the individual certification enabled the team to raise the bar, it didn’t demonstrate the holistic approach that would really make the difference and that could support Dr Katrin’s vision for the provision of consistently excellent, compassionate veterinary care that had a focus on the mental, emotional, and physical health of the UAE’s pets.

Roll on to late 2023 and the Fear Free Veterinary Practice Certification became available internationally for the first time. This is a huge step up as the Practice Certification requires the team, the facilities, and the methodologies to all be integrated to ensure that a contextually appropriate, patient specific Fear Free experience is delivered consistently. In short, the What, the Where, the Who, the How and the Why must all be aligned to deliver the very best patient experience every time.

“Practice Certification takes Fear Free implementation to the next level – from an individual to a joint effort that requires the entire practice team to work together to achieve certification. Fear Free Certified Practices will have successfully implemented Fear Free into all aspects of their business: culture and leadership, client education, staff training, facility, and patient visits.” (

With the leadership and expertise of Clinical Manager, Nora Shackleford, combined with the knowledge and passion of Companion Animal Trainer, Ilse Fourie, Dr Katrin’s vision has become a reality and the achievement of becoming a Fear Free Certified Veterinary Practice is the realization of over five years of effort, passion and dedication to improving the care and treatment of all our patients.

“There is no greater joy as a veterinary professional then to work within a team that places its patients’ emotional welfare as priority, this certification process has allowed us to work together to take this awareness to the next level, providing constant and consistent Fear Free standards for every pet we treat, and peace of mind for their owners. I have never been prouder of the amazing and dedicated individuals I get to work with each day who made this dream a reality” Nora Shackleford.

We are delighted in achieving another veterinary first in the UAE and a milestone in the MENA region, however, the Fear Free objectives “to prevent and alleviate fear, anxiety, and stress in pets by inspiring and educating the people who care for them” and “for taking the “pet” out of petrified, for putting the “treat” back into treatment, and for making your patient’s emotional wellbeing a priority” remains at the forefront of all we do.