< > LUK5 - Veterinary Surgeons Act 1966

General Information

The information provided within these pages provides a background to the legislation issues.

Date 1966
Wildpro "Organisations & Website" Reference
Text Availability (e.g. HMSO / Copyright / Public Domain etc.) HMSO: Crown Copyright. The authoritative versions of Acts are usually the "Queen's Printer" copies (often published by The Stationery Office Limited). Details of how to obtain the authoritative versions are available through Website Ref - W65 - Her Majesty's Stationary Office (HMSO)
Brief Overview / Significance
  • This Act contains the legislation regarding the professional treatment of animals.
  • With certain exceptions, the Act means that only veterinary surgeons who are registered members of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons or are included on the Supplementary Veterinary Register may practice veterinary surgery on animals (including mammals, birds and reptiles).
  • "Veterinary surgery" is defined in the Act as meaning "the art and science of veterinary surgery and medicine and, without prejudice to the generality of the foregoing, shall be taken to include:
    • the diagnosis of diseases in, and injuries to, animals, including tests performed on animals for diagnostic purposes;
    • the giving of advice based upon such diagnosis;
    • the medical and surgical treatment of animals; and 
    • the performance of surgical operations on animals."
  • Exemptions found in the Veterinary Surgeons Act 1966 (Schedule 3 Amendment) Order 1988 allows for:
    • first aid measures to be taken in an emergency to save life or relieve pain.
    • minor medical treatment to be given to an animal by its owner or an employee of the owner, or by a member of the owner's household; persons giving treatment under this exemption must be at least 18 years old (or 17 if participating in animal husbandry training as defined by the Act).
  • Treatment of amphibians, fish and invertebrates is not covered by this Act; however treatment of these species must comply with the Protection of Animals Acts 1911-1988.

(J35.147.w1, B156.21.w21, P19.2.w1)

UK Wildlife: First Aid and Care Implications

  • The Act prohibits the treatment of animals other than by a veterinarian registered with the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons, except for certain exemptions.
  • First aid measures may be taken by any person in an emergency to save life or relieve pain.
  • It is important for ownership to be transferred from the person who has found and taken into captivity an injured or sick wild animal to a rehabilitation centre in order that personnel of that centre may provide treatment as allowed under the Act.

(J35.147.w1, B142.4.w4, B223, P19.2.w1)

NOTES - Amendments / Relation to other legislation

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Specific Section References

Wildpro Reference Chapter/Paragraph Title Content Page nos.

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Text from the Act


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