Code of Practice

Provision of veterinary care | back

  1. Provision of veterinary care
    1. Objective
      1. To rapidly assess the veterinary requirements of sick, injured or orphaned protected animals and provide an appropriate level of relief from distress, pain and suffering as well as appropriate veterinary care.
    2. Standards
      1. A sick or injured animal must receive a standard of care appropriate for its injuries or illness as soon as possible.
      2. An animal that is affected by a critical (see section 18 for definition) injury or illness must be provided with appropriate veterinary care. This includes the provision of appropriate and ongoing pain relief and monitoring by a suitably experienced and qualified person; or prompt referral to a person or organisation able to provide that care; or euthanasia as soon as possible using an approved method. For an approved euthanasia method refer to section 12 of this code.
      3. An animal that is affected by a serious (see section 18 for definition) injury or illness, or that is likely to be suffering from moderate pain, must be provided with appropriate pain relief and veterinary care as soon as is practicable.
      4. An animal that is affected by a mild (see section 18 for definition) injury or illness, or that is likely to be suffering only mild discomfort or pain, must be provided with appropriate veterinary care as soon as is practicable.
      5. A person must not hold a critically or seriously ill or injured animal without providing appropriate veterinary care, when such veterinary care is reasonably accessible.
      6. Unless authority has first been received from a conservation officer, a wildlife rehabilitator must not request a veterinarian to perform the following surgical procedures:
        1. amputation of a limb, or part of a limb, other than a single digit
        2. removal of an eye
        3. amputation of more than one third of the tail of a mammal, bird or reptile, other than a skink, gecko or legless lizard
        4. perform a procedure that results in the animal being unable to reproduce (sterilisation)
        5. any other procedure that might reasonably be expected to reduce an animal’s fitness or ability to survive upon release back into the wild.
      7. Notwithstanding section 7.2.6, a surgical procedure must not be withheld if gaining authority from a conservation officer will result in an unacceptable delay that may contribute to unnecessary suffering.
      8. Wildlife rehabilitators must take all reasonable steps to avoid or minimise stress on animals in care and must not deliberately or negligently expose an animal to unnecessary stress.
    3. Guidelines
      1. A wildlife rehabilitator or wildlife rehabilitation organisation should establish a working relationship with a veterinarian, veterinary practice or facility able to provide veterinary care for rescued native animals.

        Note: For the purposes of this code an animal’s injuries or illness may be described as:

        Critical (see section 18 for definition);

        For example: an animal that has been struck by a car and has a serious head injury.

        Serious (see section 18 for definition);

        For example: an animal with a closed fracture of a long bone, but no other apparent injuries, and that is bright, alert and responsive; a koala with severe cystitis.

        Mild (see section 18 for definition);

        For example: an animal that has sustained superficial cuts or bruising as a result of inter-species or intra-species fighting or an orphaned marsupial suffering from mild dehydration.
      2. The determination of what is ‘appropriate veterinary care’ should take into account the circumstances and availability of veterinary facilities and expertise, and the nature and severity of the injuries and/or illness of the animal.

        For example: ‘appropriate veterinary care’ has not been provided to a critically or seriously injured or ill animal if it has received only a single treatment, without ongoing veterinary care and/or monitoring.

        Note: a person must not hold a seriously injured or ill animal overnight without appropriate veterinary treatment, when access to 24-hour veterinary care is available.
      3. The most appropriate facility in the circumstances should be used for the provision of veterinary care to seriously sick or injured protected animals.

        For example: when specialised wildlife veterinary facilities are readily available and accessible. These should be used in preference to a private veterinary surgeon.

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