Performing regulated procedures on animals

The Animal Care and Protection Act 2001 regulates certain procedures that can be performed on animals.

These procedures can only be performed:

  • by a veterinary surgeon
  • and
  • in the interest of the animal's welfare.

An owner's threat to have the animal euthanased if you don't perform the procedure is not a valid reason to perform it.

Regulated procedures include:

  • cropping dog ears
  • docking dog tails
  • docking cattle or horse tails
  • debarking dogs
  • removing cat claws.


Before debarking a dog, you must:

  • be sure it is in the interests of the dog's welfare
  • receive a relevant nuisance abatement notice or an appropriate notice from the owner—you must reasonably consider that the operation is the only way to comply with the notice without destroying the dog.

You should not debark:

  • dogs routinely
  • young dogs.

Issuing a veterinary certificate

You may be asked to issue a signed veterinary surgeon's certificate when you perform a regulated procedure on an animal. This certificate must stay with the animal if it goes to another person.

The certificate must state that the regulated procedure "was completed in the interests of the animal's welfare".

For debarking procedures, the certificate must also state "the procedure was performed in accordance with section 25(2) of the Animal Care and Protection Act 2001".