Animal welfare law for veterinarians

As a veterinarian, you have general responsibilities and specific roles under the Animal Care and Protection Act 2001.

As a person in charge of and dealing with animals, you have the same responsibilities to those animals under the Act as the rest of the community. However, the Act also allows you to:

  • undertake certain procedures in the interests of an animal's welfare (e.g. dock a horse's tail, declaw a cat)
  • administer harmful substances to an animal (e.g. Lethobarb).

The Act doesn't state how you should perform your role. For example, it doesn't say what to do when examining or treating an animal, or the time frames for this, as this is considered professional judgement.

Discussion about appropriate treatment is an issue for the profession and is dealt with by the Veterinary Surgeons Act 1936.

This guide outlines what veterinarians need to know about animal welfare law.