New rules for surgical procedures on animals are coming into effect today following a year-long delay due to COVID-19.
The new regulations under the Animal Welfare Act 1999 cover a variety of procedures carried out on a range of animals by veterinarians and others – from specialist procedures to routine ones such as lamb tail docking and goat disbudding.
Dr Chris Rodwell, a veterinarian and the Ministry for Primary Industries’ (MPI's) director animal health and welfare, says the new regulations make it very clear who can carry out certain procedures, when, and how they should be done.
"These rules are to ensure surgical procedures on animals are carried out by the right people with the right skills and care, to safeguard the animals' wellbeing," says Dr Rodwell.
The new regulations have been developed after wide public consultation and mostly allow 'competent' people to continue doing routine procedures on animals. Other procedures can only be performed by a veterinarian, and some are banned, meaning no one can carry them out. For some procedures, the regulations require the use of pain relief authorised by a veterinarian for that particular procedure.
Where a person who is not a veterinarian is allowed to carry out a surgical procedure on an animal, they must be 'competent', meaning they have experience with, or training in, the correct use of the method for the procedure, and have the appropriate skill and equipment to carry it out.
There are new offences and penalties for some breaches of the regulations, which come into effect on 9 May 2021. Some may result in a criminal conviction and a fine of up to $5,000 for an individual or $25,000 for a body corporate.
These penalties target minor to moderate offending. If an animal’s welfare is seriously compromised, higher penalties under the Animal Welfare Act 1999 apply.
The new regulations will be included in relevant codes of welfare. The codes contain minimum standards and recommended best practices when caring for your animals.
Guide to the Animal Welfare (Care and Procedures) Regulations – MPI