Veterinary opinion in animal welfare investigations

Statements of veterinary opinion are a vital part of most animal welfare investigations and legal briefs. It is important that these statements address the needs of the Animal Care and Protection Act 2001.

As a veterinarian, you are recognised as having a specialised role in animal welfare investigations and are expected to provide a professional and objective opinion based on all the relevant information at your disposal.

The following is a list of what you should include in a statement.

Details of veterinarian

You should provide:

  • a name, address and phone number
  • qualifications, including where and when they were achieved
  • current employment details
  • number of years' experience (experience with the particular species is optional).

Details of veterinary opinion

The statement should include:

  • what date the animal was examined. For multiple examinations or when the animal was under veterinary care, this could state '... between the date of dd/mm/yy and dd/mm/yy'
  • a full description of the animal, including age (estimated from dentition if not known), breed, sex, microchip number (if available) and distinguishing markings
  • who presented the animal and why
  • true and accurate record of findings - summary and detailed report, including observations
  • details of tests performed, treatments provided and responses or results
  • an estimate of the duration of illness and prognosis for cure
  • objective assessments of pain and suffering (i.e. animal's demeanour, response to manipulation and handling, etc.)
  • any underlying conditions for which there is no reasonable cure (e.g. cancer, old age)
  • a final summary of professional opinion stating cause of the animal's condition (conclusion)
  • recommended actions and treatment options
  • your signature and date the statement was made.

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