Valerie Jonckheer-Sheehy is a behaviour veterinarian and has just received the title “European Specialist in Veterinary Behavioural Medicine” (Veterinary behaviourist). The title was awarded by European College of Animal Welfare and Behavioural Medicine (ECAWBM).
The ECAWBM falls under the European Board for Veterinary Specialisation (EBVS) together with the other European Specialist Colleges such as Surgery (ECVS), Dermatology (ECVD), Ophthalmology (ECVO) and Internal Medicine (ECVIM).
Jonckheer-Sheehy may now use the title ‘Diplomate of the European College of Animal Welfare and Behavioural Medicine’ or “European Specialist in Veterinary Behavioural Medicine”. Only veterinarians who have completed specialist training and passed examinations may be awarded with this title.
Jonckheer-Sheehy: " “I’ve always loved animals and been interested in their behaviour and welfare. I became a veterinarian to improve the animal welfare.
Behaviour problems are the number one reason that pet owners request veterinarians to put their animals to sleep. Thus it’s not because of other medical conditions such as cancer and diabetes but behaviour problems. I discovered this fact as a young veterinarian and this was also confirmed by several international scientific research studies. Because of this, I decided to specialise in Veterinary Behavioural Medicine.
Behaviour problems often lead to a break-down in the human-animal bond. The animal is often frustrated, anxious and usually suffering and the pet owner becomes disappointed and can’t understand their pet, whilst these problems can usually be treated and are often preventable.
Veterinarians who are specialised in this discipline treat animals who display pathological or sick behaviour. Pathological behaviour means that the behaviour, although it may sometimes look normal, is diseased, sick or abnormal. Animals diagnosed with pathological behaviour conditions are usually suffering. It’s a mental health issue often caused by neurochemical imbalances in the brain. Thus this happens in animals just as it can occur in humans!
Thus pathological behaviours are generally not the result of inadequate training or the fault of pet owners. Only a Veterinary Behaviourist can diagnose and treat pathological behaviours in animals.
Scientific knowledge and study in this field, Veterinary Behavioural Medicine is growing exponentially abroad but is still lacking in the Netherlands. Incorrectly addressing an animal behaviour problem can lead to major animal suffering, owner frustration and ultimately severe injuries to people or other animals. I specialize in this area so that I can help people to understand their animal’s needs and behaviour to safeguard his/her welfare thus restoring the human-animal bond and combatting the number one killer of animals thus minimizing animal wastage“.