New animal welfare regulations

An official release from MPI

On 9th May 2021, new regulations under the Animal Welfare Act 1999 came into effect. These regulations clarify who can carry out certain surgical procedures on animals and how they should be done. They 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.

The new regulations have been developed after wide public consultation by MPI over the past few years. They 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. There are new offences and penalties for some breaches of the regulations – including some that may result in a criminal conviction.

Below is a summary of some of the regulations most relevant to the equine sector.

The full regulations can be viewed here

For MPI guidance on the regulations, visit www.mpi.govt.nz/animalregs

56E. Teeth extraction

Equid teeth extraction can be complicated and painful. It must be done by someone who is competent to undertake this procedure, using the right equipment.

A competent non-veterinarian may extract a:

  • finger-loose deciduous tooth, or
  • a wolf tooth, using pain relief authorised by a veterinarian.

If any other type of tooth is extracted by a non-veterinarian, you could face a criminal conviction and fine of up to $3,000, or $15,000 for the business.

If pain relief is not used when extracting a wolf tooth, you could face a criminal conviction and fine of up to $3,000, or $15,000 for the business.

It is up to a veterinarian to determine the type of pain relief to be used, to ensure effective and significant alleviation of pain.

Veterinarians must use pain relief when extracting anything other than a finger-loose deciduous tooth. Otherwise you could face a criminal conviction and fine of up to $3,000, or $15,000 for the business.

58I. Prohibition on blistering, firing, soring, and nicking equids

It is prohibited to perform the following procedures on equids:

  • Blistering
  • Firing
  • Mechanical soring
  • Nicking

Blistering means a procedure that involves the application of a chemical cautery to the legs of the equid and that creates tissue damage to, or an inflammatory reaction in, the legs of the equid. (Note: putting dishwashing liquid on horses’ legs, which causes a chemical reaction and skin irritation, is covered by this regulation)

Firing means a procedure that involves the application of a hot or cold cautery to the legs of the equid and that creates tissue damage to, or an inflammatory reaction in, the legs of the equid.

Mechanical soring means the application of devices, including chains and weighted platforms, to the hooves or legs of an equid for the purpose of distorting the natural gait of the equid; but does not include the use of toe weights.

Nicking means the cutting of the skin or ligaments of the tail of the equid to make the equid carry its tail in a raised position.

If you perform any of these procedures, or allow it to be performed, you could face a criminal conviction and fine of up to $5,000, or $25,000 for the business.

59D. Caslick’s procedure

A Caslick’s procedure is painful and always requires pain relief. It must be done by someone who is competent to undertake this procedure, using the right equipment.

A competent non-veterinarian may:

  • open the existing seam of a Caslick’s in a horse, if the mare is being serviced, or is foaling, and
  • close the existing seam of a Caslick’s in a horse, after the mare has been serviced.

No tissue may be removed from the horse, and throughout the procedure the horse must be under the influence of pain relief authorised by a veterinarian.

Otherwise, you could face a criminal conviction and fine of up to $3,000, or $15,000 for the business.

It is up to a veterinarian to determine the type of pain relief to be used, to ensure effective and significant alleviation of pain.

Only a veterinarian, using pain relief, may create a Caslick’s seam in a horse, or close a seam after foaling. Otherwise, you could face a criminal conviction and fine of up to $3,000, or $15,000 for the business.

59E. Epidurals

Epidurals on equids must only be performed by a veterinarian. Otherwise, you could face a criminal conviction and fine of up to $3,000, or $15,000 for the business.

59G. Rectal examination of equids

Rectal examination of equids must be done by someone who is competent to undertake this procedure, using the right equipment. There is a high risk of tissue tearing during the procedure, which can lead to peritonitis and death. It must only be performed when there is clear clinical reason for it, and if an animal is a suitable candidate for it.

A competent non-veterinarian may perform a rectal examination of an equid for the purposes of a non-surgical reproductive procedure. If you perform, or allow someone to perform, a rectal examination for any other purpose, you could face a criminal conviction and fine of up to $3,000 for an individual, or $15,000 for the business.

Rectal examination of an equid for anything other than a non-surgical reproductive procedure must only be performed by a veterinarian.

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