Closed petition Introduce reporting requirements for euthanasia of healthy/treatable animals

Each time a healthy/treatable animal is euthanised or presented for euthanasia we request mandatory reporting. Without accurate information vets, rescue organisations, responsible breeders & Government cannot make decisions about how to protect animals from being unnecessarily euthanised in future.

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In June 2021 the Government said it would keep the issue of euthanasia of animals under review, but we have seen no evidence that this is the case. Thousands of pets are at risk of euthanasia for economic/behaviour/lack of rescue space & health conditions. Mandatory reporting would provide information that could be used to put in place preventative measures to help reduce unnecessary euthanasia.

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Government responded

This response was given on 15 May 2023

Existing obligations require veterinary surgeons to protect animals from unnecessary euthanasia. There is no evidence that a new reporting requirement is necessary.

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Making a decision to euthanise an animal is often a complex, emotional and challenging decision, particularly when that animal is a much-loved family pet. The Animal Welfare Act 2006 ensures there are safeguards in place to protect the welfare of animals, including those being euthanised.

Veterinary surgeons practising in the UK must adhere to the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons’ code of conduct. Section 8 of this code gives guidance on euthanasia and section 8.2 states that euthanasia is not in itself an act of veterinary surgery, and no veterinary surgeon is obliged to euthanise a healthy animal unless required to do so under statutory powers as part of their conditions of employment. Veterinary surgeons, however, have the option of being able to relieve an animal's suffering in this way in appropriate cases.

In 2021, the RCVS guidance was updated to provide greater assurance that alternatives to euthanasia are explored before a dog is put down. It now requires veterinary surgeons to scan for a microchip in dogs prior to euthanasia where, in their professional judgement, it is not necessary to put the dog down on animal health or welfare grounds. Checking the details on the relevant microchip database may reveal who the animal’s registered keeper is and can also alert the veterinary surgeon to anyone else who may have an interest in the animal. This information can help inform consideration about alternatives to euthanasia.

We have not seen evidence that veterinary surgeons are not adhering to the RCVS’s code of conduct in respect of carrying out euthanasia.

A new reporting requirement would create an extra burden on both the veterinary profession and Government. We do not consider that the case for such a reporting requirement has been established.

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs