Important parts of the Animal Care and Protection Act for veterinarians

Some parts of the Animal Care and Protection Act 2001 outline specific requirements for veterinarians. These are summarised below. For full details, refer to the Act.

Prohibitions on poisons

Only a person who is authorised under the Medicines and Poisons Act 2019 can administer a harmful or poisonous substance with the intention of injuring or killing an animal, provided it is killed humanely.

Exemptions are provided for feral and pest animal control. These exemptions do not apply to the use of CSSP pig poison.

Requirement for veterinary treatment

An inspector appointed under the Animal Care and Protection Act 2001 can require a person to seek veterinary treatment for an animal through an animal welfare direction. The direction may require the person to obtain and produce a certificate or other document from the veterinarian as evidence that they have complied with the direction. The person is responsible for paying any fees to the veterinarian.

Power to require information

An inspector can require information (including documents) from a veterinarian about the treatment of an animal if an inspector reasonably suspects that the Animal Care and Protection Act 2001 has been contravened or an animal welfare direction has been given (giving this information to an inspector does not breach privacy legislation).

Euthanasing animals

Defence for the offence of killing of an animal is available where the veterinary surgeon:

  • believed it would be cruel to keep the animal alive because it was:
    • so diseased or severely injured
    • in such a poor physical or psychological condition
  • took reasonable steps to identify and contact the person in charge of the animal before euthanasing the animal—reasonable steps include:
    • scanning the animal for a microchip
    • searching any relevant registers
    • searching for any other form of identification (e.g. collars or tags).

A veterinary surgeon cannot be held liable civilly, criminally or under an administrative process for euthanasing the animal in this case.

See sections 41B and 215AA of the Act for more information.

Animal ethics committees must have a veterinarian

People who use animals for scientific purposes must have approval from an animal ethics committee (AEC). The AEC must have a member who is a veterinarian. The veterinarian's main role is to provide expert advice on the impact of the work on the animal and ways to minimise and monitor this impact.

Registered users of animals for scientific purposes working under an AEC approval may conduct procedures that would normally be restricted to veterinarians, provided they are competent in the procedure and perform the procedure competently.

Veterinarians, non-veterinary researchers and the practice of veterinary science

A recent amendment of the Veterinary Surgeons Act 1936 has excluded the use of an animal for scientific purposes in accordance with section 91 of the Animal Care and Protection Act 2001 from the meaning of veterinary science.

In Queensland, non-veterinary researchers can lawfully administer anaesthetics and analgesics and perform surgical procedures on animals provided they meet the relevant requirements of the Animal Care and Protection Act 2001 and the scientific use code.

Veterinarians, who are required to train or assess the competence of non-veterinary researchers in the administration of anaesthetics and analgesia and performing surgical procedures on animals as part of their approved research, can do so without committing an offence under section 25M of Veterinary Surgeons Act 1936.