Regulated veterinary procedures on animals

The Animal Care and Protection Act 2001 (the Act) regulates certain procedures that can be performed on animals. The Act also requires veterinary surgeons’ certificates to accompany an animal throughout its life.

Regulated procedures

Under the Act, only a veterinary surgeon may perform the following procedures:

  • cropping a dogs' ears (maximum penalty of $15,480.00)
  • docking a dogs' tail (maximum penalty of $15,480.00)
  • docking the tails of cattle or horses (maximum penalty of $46,440.00 or 1 year's imprisonment)
  • debarking a dog (maximum penalty of $46,440.00 or 1 year's imprisonment)
  • removing a cats' claws (maximum penalty of $46,440.00 or 1 year's imprisonment).

The veterinary surgeon must consider if the procedure is in the interest of the animal's welfare. Cosmetic reasons are not acceptable.

For dog debarking procedures, the veterinary surgeon must also consider if debarking is the only option other than destroying the dog.

Certificates for regulated procedures

If you sell or give away an animal, which has had a regulated procedure, you must provide the other person with a signed veterinary surgeon's certificate. The certificate must state that the procedure was performed in accordance with the Act.

For the supply of a dog that has undergone a debarking operation, the certificate must also state the operation was completed in accordance with section 25(2) of the Act. A maximum penalty of up to $23,220.00 or 1 year's imprisonment applies.

However, the certificate is not required if you are surrendering an abandoned animal to a pound or shelter. A pound or shelter can rehome an animal without a veterinary surgeon's certificate, but they must provide the new owners with a signed certificate stating that the regulated procedure had been done before the pound or shelter received the animal.

Veterinary surgeons, pounds and animal shelters, and anyone who sells or gives away animals should be aware of their obligations under sections 28, 29 and 29A of the Act.

Where an animal has been supplied with a certificate, the certificate must stay with the animal through its life. A person in charge of the animal must keep the certificate while they remain in charge of the animal, unless they have a reasonable excuse. They must also make the certificate available for an inspector, if required. A maximum penalty of $23,220.00 or 1 year's imprisonment applies.

Download a template regulated procedures veterinary certificate. The template certificate is an example only. Veterinary surgeons may adapt the template to suit their requirements.