FVE publishes position paper on anaesthesia as a veterinary act
More and more countries are considering the possibility to allow non-veterinarians, i.e. persons with no academic medical training (such as farmers) to administer anaesthetics themselves for surgery on their animals. For pig castration, Switzerland allows the use of isoflurane by farmers, Sweden intra-scrotal use of lidocaine, Denmark intra-scrotal use of procaine, and Germany allows after training and defined conditions the use of isoflurane in piglets under 8 days and will allow it also in older pigs from 2021. The same practice is also allowed in other cases, such as Switzerland allows farmers to use anaesthesia for the dehorning of cattle. Animal shelters and wildlife centres also in certain cases let non-trained and non-qualified staff use anaesthesia e.g. to sedate pain, treat pain or euthanise animals under general anaesthesia. FVE iterates that it is extremely important to use anaesthesia and analgesia for painful interventions such as for pig castration1 and dehorning to prevent pain. FVE, however, is very concerned with the evolution, mostly motivated by economic arguments, to allow non-veterinarians to do so. These persons are not trained on the comparative basic physiology of the animal and pharmacology and toxicology of the medicines, and are not properly able to recognise the depth of the unconsciousness and whether or not the animal is in pain. Therefore, FVE considers this practice endangering animal health, animal welfare, operator safety and in some cases, the environment.
FVE asks policymakers to strictly regulate access to general and local anaesthetics and to retain the use of anaesthesia to animals as a “veterinary act”. The health and welfare of animals, as well as the safety of operators and public health, should always overrule economic reasons.