Over the years, the veterinary sector has undergone significant changes as a result of the rapid advancement of veterinary knowledge and the growing awareness among members of the public of animal welfare issues. We are keenly aware that the existing system of regulatory control of veterinary practices needs to be kept up to date with modern developments. In this regard, on 8 September 2011, the Food and Health Bureau and the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department (AFCD) published a public consultation document on the proposals to amend Schedule 2 to the Veterinary Surgeons Registration Ordinance (Cap. 529) (VSRO) and launched a two-month public consultation. The amendments covered exemptions for individuals not registered under the VSRO to carry out certain acts of veterinary surgery or provide a veterinary service.
Many constructive views were received through various channels for which we are grateful. The respondents were generally in support of the proposals set out in the consultation document. Following the public consultation further changes to the proposed amendments were made taking into account feedback from various stakeholders; and from the Veterinary Surgeons Board of Hong Kong (VSB) and the Legislative Council Food Safety and Environmental Hygiene Panel. An Amendment Order was gazetted on 16 March and subsequently tabled in the Legislative Council on 21 March 2012. The amended legislation will come into effect on the 14 May 2012.
The new legislation will permit veterinary assistants, veterinary students, and other individuals to perform certain acts of veterinary surgery and provide certain veterinary services under the direction or supervision of a registered veterinary surgeon. Secondly, it limits the veterinary acts which are currently permitted to be performed by animal owners when treating their own animals to certain minor acts excluding any surgical operation. At the same time still allowing licensed livestock producers (and fish owners) to carry out necessary animal husbandry procedures. Finally, the amendment permits certain veterinary acts to be carried out by government employees and authorized persons in case of operational necessity.