Health practitioners undertaking non-surgical procedures on animals
The Veterinarian Council of New Zealand (VCNZ) has prepared this guidance for veterinarians on the acceptability, circumstances, and necessary conditions around a human health practitioner (Practitioner) undertaking a non-surgical procedure on an animal under the supervision of a veterinarian.
See Health Practitioners Undertaking Surgical Procedures on Animals for guidance on Practitioners undertaking surgery on animals.
The Animal Welfare Act and its regulations set requirements for the physical health and behavioural needs of an animal, including limitations on who may perform surgical procedures on it.
The Health Practitioners Competency Assurance Act 2003 defines “health practitioner” and sets out the regulatory regime for various health professions.
There are circumstances where it could be acceptable for human health practitioners to perform non-surgical diagnostic or therapeutic procedures on animals.
Criteria for the veterinarian and Practitioner to consider include:
- The veterinarian does not have the skills to undertake the procedure and there are no veterinary referral options readily available.
- The Practitioner is reasonably considered to have the necessary skills to safely carry out the procedure.
- The procedure is done under the supervision of the veterinarian.
- The procedure is in the animal’s best interests and is justified on animal welfare grounds (according to the Animal Welfare Act and the VCNZ Code of Professional Conduct).
- The work is not just cosmetic or done for the convenience of the owner.
- The Practitioner and veterinarian are aware that if there is an adverse outcome they could be subject to litigation and liability, and are unlikely to be indemnified.
- The owner has provided their informed consent, preferably in writing, with full knowledge of the above points and the risks of the procedure(s).
- All parties involved understand their respective roles, and the Practitioner is careful not to represent themself as a veterinarian.
Importantly, this advice does not explicitly permit human health practitioners or any other service provider to practice their skills on an animal, and they should consider their situation independently to this advice. This might include reference to their registration body and any relevant legislation.
Undertaking these activities may impact your insurance cover. While VCNZ cannot comment on this, it is recommended that you contact your insurer before engaging in these activities.