Use of euthanasia drugs by non-veterinarians


Ratification Date: 01 Jan 2010


Pentobarbitone or similar drugs registered for the euthanasia of animals should only be administered by a registered veterinarian.

Veterinarians should not supply euthanasia drugs.


Legislation in some jurisdictions allows non-veterinarians to obtain and administer these drugs. This is not supported by the AVA. If health authorities authorise or license persons to obtain and use euthanasia drugs, those persons must also be authorised to obtain them directly from veterinary wholesalers or pharmacists to protect veterinarians from liability for their supply and use.

Animals require euthanasia for different reasons. Veterinary oversight is essential to protect the welfare of animals being euthanased. In the case of sick and injured animals it is essential that an appropriate diagnosis is made and an expert prognosis given prior to any decision to euthanase.

Veterinary expertise is also required because some euthanasia drugs are extremely irritant and can cause considerable pain or distress to an animal if they are not injected correctly. Pre-euthanasia tranquilisation may also be necessary in some cases and these tranquilisers are not available to non-veterinarians.

In the case of unwanted animals, such as pound animals or those being culled in remote communities, using an experienced veterinarian will ensure appropriate consideration is given to the welfare of the animals at all times.

When wild/native animals are injured, immediate access to veterinarians with experience in handling and assessing them may be limited. The nearest available veterinarian should be contacted and the best course of action determined in consultation with the animal carer or wildlife staff.

Veterinarians need to be involved with the euthanasia of zoo animals, laboratory animals, animals in breeding establishments or wild animals killed as part of research projects or museum collections. Animal research and feral animal control are special areas where the interests of affected animals are covered by other legislation or Codes of Practice and where personnel are required to be experienced to undertake any euthanasia with or without the use of injectable euthanasia drugs.

Date of ratification by AVA Board: January 2010