Monday, 10 May 2021 12:55

New rules for surgical procedures on animals

Written by  Staff Reporters
New rules for surgical procedures on animals have come into effect. New rules for surgical procedures on animals have come into effect.

New rules for surgical procedures on animals have come into effect following a year-long delay due to Covid-19.

The new regulations under the Animal Welfare Act 1999 cover a variety of procedures carried out on a range of animals by veterinarians and others – from specialist procedures to routine ones such as lamb tail docking and goat disbudding.

Dr Chris Rodwell, a veterinarian and Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) director animal health and welfare, says the new regulations make it very clear who can carry out certain procedures, when, and how they should be done.

“These rules are to ensure surgical procedures on animals are carried out by the right people with the right skills and care, to safeguard the animals’ wellbeing,” says Rodwell.

The new regulations were developed after public consultation and mostly allow competent people to continue doing routine procedures on animals.

Other procedures can only be performed by a veterinarian, and some are banned , meaning no one can carry them out.

For some procedures, the regulations require the use of pain relief authorised by a veterinarian for that particular procedure.

Where a person who is not a veterinarian is allowed to carry out a surgical procedure on an animal, they must be competent, meaning they have experience with, or training in, the correct use of the method for the procedure, and have the appropriate skill and equipment to carry it out.

A competent person can still dock lamb tails and treat sheep bearings, as well as perform certain procedures if pain relief has been administered. Veterinarians are to decide the type and dosage of pain relief to be used and will also decide if the competent person is allowed to administer the pain relief or not.

Some procedures, such as castrating donkeys, can only be carried out by a veterinarian.

Procedures, such as the cropping of dogs’ ears to make them stand up, are banned.

New offences and penalties for breaches of the regulations have also come into effect.

Infringement notices will result in an infringement fee but no criminal conviction. The flat fee for most offences is $500.

Prosecutable regulatory offences may result in a criminal conviction. The fine is a maximum of between $3,000 and $5,000 for an individual or a maximum of between $15,000 and $25,000 for a body corporate, depending on the offence.

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