“Honesty and transparency make you vulnerable.  Be honest and transparent anyway”
Mother Teresa

Transparency. A single word that has guided our practice since day one. In veterinary medicine there are many situations caregivers face that may lead to feelings of vulnerability and the instinct to hide. Examples include causing discomfort to a pet (taking a temperature, drawing blood, restraint for a procedure), handling an aggressive pet, or discussing finances. It was extremely important when we developed Healthy Paws Animal Hospital to take these at times awkward situations and turn them upside down, find ways to do our job safely while avoiding feelings of uncertainty. As a team we are committed to being vulnerable, telling and showing what we do honestly thus allowing us to create trusting relationships with both our clients and their pets.

Open door policy. We welcome tours, any time, no notice needed. Our team takes pride in the care we provide and in our physical facility. We love showing this off.

Performing non-anesthetized procedures in front of owners. Ninety percent of what we do is performed in the exam room with both the owner and their pet present. Examples include blood draws, urine collection, and wound care. Sometimes this means seeing a pet restrained or in some minor discomfort. But it also allows us to show how we defuse stressful situations and discuss how we can make things easier in the future.

Discussing fear and aggression openly with clients. Fear, anxiety, mistrust, previous bad experiences, and pain all affect how a cat or dog reacts to the care we are providing. I would argue they play a role in every interaction we have with pets. The goal is to make the situation easier each time we interact with a pet, and actively discuss it with clients to involve them in the solution. Ultimately safety for the pet and our team is our primary concern. We will not fight an animal to achieve our goals and this may mean being unable to do everything desired in one visit. We will discuss with owners different ways to safely treat their pet whether that be with creative exams (ex. in the lobby, outside, while eating peanut butter), using a muzzle, or providing medication to take the edge off. In the end it does not help anyone to pretend that a pet is safe to handle if it is not.

Discussing finances in advance. I do not like surprises, particularly when it involves money or affects my ability to make good decisions for my family. I assume this to be true for most thus why we discuss finances upfront. This allows a dialogue about what is in a pet and their family’s best interest. It also allows our team to ensure a client understands our goals upfront and that we are not missing any discussed details. My mantra is that I will never give an option I cannot morally or ethically support. My commitment is to provide choices, educate an owner on the pros and cons of those choices, and ultimately support the decision they have made for their pet.

Saying “I don’t know” with confidence. There are situations that for a variety of reasons a team member or I may not know the answer. We strive to admit freely when we do not know something and then explain how we will find the answer and in what time frame. Being reliable is a priority, and we understand that it is more important to be accurate and predictable then reckless or haphazard with the information we provide.

Honesty in admitting our mistakes. No one is perfect. If there is one thing I try and model for our team it is being upfront and honest. We can deal with anything as long as we are aware of it and given the opportunity to address it. The number of details we deal with in a day is infinite. We are able to provide the best care for our patients when we work together with our pet owners and team members to ensure we are all seeking the same goal, the best medical care possible.

Dr. Karen Burgess
Head Veterinarian 
Healthy Paws Animal Hospital

Now Accepting New Patients
Call (815) 322-5400 for appointment.

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