Essential laws all vets should know about

Law books

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If you plan to train as a veterinary surgeon, or you’re currently at vet school, there are certain laws you need to know about prior to taking any job.

Some of these regulations are detailed below:

Veterinary Surgeons Act 1966

The 1966 Veterinary Surgeons Act is the most important piece of vet legislation for any aspiring vet to research. It was a consolidation of all vet legislation dating back to the Royal Charter of 1844, while also offering amendments to the ways animal care is carried out.

There have been some amendments to the 1966 act over the past 60 years, including various alterations required by the EU.

All this legislation can be downloaded from the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) website.

UK microchipping of dogs

Laws surrounding the microchipping of dogs are devolved in the UK, however, all dogs in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are required to be microchipped. You can find out more about specific regulations at the BSAVA website.

Further legislation surrounds the microchipping of greyhounds used for racing purposes, and these details can also be sourced on the BSAVA website.

Travelling with pets

Pet owners wishing to take a pet dog, cat or ferret overseas will also need to have their animal microchipped. All these pets are susceptible to rabies, so it’s important they can be identified by microchips. Microchips need to be fitted prior to carrying out any essential rabies vaccination.

Microchipping and tail docking

In general, it is an offence to carry out tail docking in the UK, unless it’s for certain working dogs. In these situations, vets also need to carry out microchipping of the dog, as an official certification is required by law.

There is comprehensive information about this legislation on the BSAVA website.

About the RCVS

The RCVS came into being following the grant of a Royal Charter of 1844. One of the functions of the RCVS is the regulation of all vets and registered veterinary nurses.

The latest amendment to the Royal Charter was in 2015, and the stated objectives of the RCVS have now been formalised as follows: “To set, uphold and advance veterinary standards, and to promote, encourage and advance the study and practice of the art and science of veterinary surgery and medicine, in the interests of the health and welfare of animals and in the wider public interest.”

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