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Reflection on Legislation Knowledge

A professional veterinary physiotherapist should, besides having a perfect anatomy knowledge, comply with the current legislation relating to the profession. While all veterinary surgeons’ practice is underpinned by the Veterinary Surgeons Act 1966 (, 2020c), the practice of veterinary physiotherapy is underlined by the Veterinary Surgery (Exemptions) Order 2015 (, 2020b). As a paraprofessional, a physiotherapist acts under a qualified veterinary surgeon, who examines an animal prior any physiotherapy treatment.

Physiotherapist should only treat an animal after obtaining a vet consent. However, when it comes to musculoskeletal maintenance, no delegation by a veterinarian is requires as long as the animal is registered with a veterinary surgeon (, 2020b).

Under the Data Protection Act 2018, no information about a client can be disclosed to another party without a consent of that client (, 2020a). Although I found the theory quite straight forward, the scenarios we were given during the lecture made me realise how challenging it might be in practice. For instance, when an animal gains a new owner, a practitioner cannot disclose information about its clinical conditions without the consent of the old owner. However, lack of awareness of the condition of the new owner may cause the animal to suffer and thus create welfare issue. Putting own ethics aside to comply with the law might be mentally demanding. However, this scenario motivates me to keep my legislation knowledge on top so I could find a solution that meets my own ethics and complies with the law.

I was not aware of the Dangerous Dog Act 1991 (Expert, 2020) and it took me by surprise. On one hand, it could be argued that this piece of legislation could be a matter of safety for public as well as professionals. On the other, aggression arises from a mixture of elements such as the environment and owner’s approach rather than genetic predispositions on their own (Hsu and Sun, 2010; Schilder et al., 2019). Moreover, aggression of breeds labelled as dangerous is likely to be towards other dogs, whereas aggression towards human, which professionals are more likely to come across, was found to be associated with Chihuahuas (Duffy et al., 2008). The act does not require professionals to report dangerous breeds. Considering that reported dangerous breeds are likely to be euthanised based on their breed and not action (Webb, 2016), which I perceive as canine racism, I would decide not to report a dog based on the breed unless there would be a welfare issue under the Animal Welfare Act 2006. In that case, I would try to discuss this with the owner but I must be prepared to do so in a non-judgemental and professional manner, which, considering different scenarios, might be a challenge.

Due to legislation complexity and its importance for a veterinary physiotherapist, I have included it in my personal development plan.


Duffy, D.L., Hsu, Y., Serpell, J.A. (2008) Breed differences in canine aggression. Applied Animal Behaviour Science. 114(3), 441–460.

Hsu, Y., Sun, L. (2010) Factors associated with aggressive responses in pet dogs. Applied Animal Behaviour Science. 123(3), 108–123. (2020a) Data Protection Act 2018. [online]. Available from: [Accessed November 13, 2020]. (2020b) The Veterinary Surgery (Exemptions) Order 2015. [online]. Available from: [Accessed November 13, 2020]. (2020c) Veterinary Surgeons Act 1966. [online]. Available from: [Accessed November 13, 2020]., Expert (2020) Dangerous Dogs Act 1991. [online]. Available from: [Accessed November 13, 2020].

Schilder, M.B.H., van der Borg, J.A.M., Vinke, C.M. (2019) Intraspecific killing in dogs: Predation behavior or aggression? A study of aggressors, victims, possible causes, and motivations. Journal of Veterinary Behavior. 34, 52–59.

Webb, B. (2016) Dog Bites: what’s breed got to do with it? Battersea Dogs & Cats Home.



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