Defra approves new approach to strengthen vet guidance on microchip scanning in dogs - Veterinary Practice
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Defra approves new approach to strengthen vet guidance on microchip scanning in dogs

The guidance-led approach follows a public campaign known as “Tuk’s Law”

A new guidance-led approach to microchip scanning of dogs
ahead of euthanasia, supported by the UK’s leading veterinary organisations,
has been approved by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural

The guidance follows a public campaign known as “Tuk’s Law” which called for measures to ensure dogs were not euthanised without the
microchip database first being checked for a “rescue back up” – a rehoming
charity that could take responsibility for the animal.

In response, the RCVS and BVA agreed that more could and should be
done to prevent occasions where a dog might be needlessly put to sleep, but
voiced concerns that a legislative approach could undermine a vet’s clinical
judgement, unfairly involve veterinary surgeons in ownership disputes or
potential criminality, and leave vets unfairly exposed to financial sanctions.

In consultation with Defra, the RCVS and BVA jointly agreed
a way forward for key guidance for veterinary surgeons to be strengthened. The
new guidance, which underpins the RCVS
Code of Professional Conduct
that all UK-practising veterinary
professionals must follow, will require veterinary surgeons to scan for a
microchip in dogs prior to euthanasia where, in their professional judgement,
destruction of the dog is not necessary on animal health or welfare grounds.

It will also support existing best practice in terms of
discussing alternatives to euthanasia with clients, and give vets flexibility
where, in their professional judgment, scanning is not appropriate; this might
be if scanning would itself cause a welfare problem, or where a vulnerable
client might be involved.

The RCVS Standards Committee recognised the difficulties
experienced by veterinary surgeons in dealing with the current microchip
database system, but felt that introducing these provisions into the guidance
was a more proportionate response than the alternative of legislation with
substantial fines. Both the RCVS and BVA were pleased to note that Defra’s new Action Plan for Animal Welfare
included a review of existing database systems, with a view to introducing

George Eustice, Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, said: “We are
a nation of animal lovers and the Government is committed to further
strengthening our world-leading animal welfare standards. We have
worked closely with the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons and British
Veterinary Association to develop this new guidance, which honours the Tuk’s
law principles by requiring vets to scan the microchips of healthy dogs to help
ensure they are not put down unnecessarily.”

RCVS President Dr Mandisa Greene MRCVS said: “We are
grateful to Defra for helping find a workable solution to a challenging problem
that will support animal welfare while underpinning the central role of a
veterinary surgeon’s judgement, in what is often a very difficult moment for
both the client and the vet. We are confident that our new guidance will
significantly reduce any risk of unnecessary and unwanted euthanasia, while
continuing to help veterinary surgeons help animals under their care to the
best of their abilities.”

BVA Senior Vice President Dr Daniella Dos Santos MRCVS
said: “One of the most important jobs as a vet is having those difficult
conversations with clients about euthanasia where we talk through all the
options that are in the animal’s best interests. But where the vet doesn’t
consider that euthanasia is necessary, the new guidance clearly sets out the
steps we need to take. We support this constructive approach that addresses the
campaigners’ concerns without undermining veterinary judgement.”

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