ACVS opposes nonveterinarians performing surgical procedures

Efforts are currently underway in various state legislatures that would allow individuals who do not hold a veterinary license to perform surgery on animals.

The American College of Veterinary Surgeons (ACVS) strongly opposes these efforts and believes they will result in increased risk to animal health and safety. All surgical procedures, even those considered routine, have inherent risks that can lead to serious complications (e.g., bruising, pain, bleeding) and even patient death if not performed by trained, qualified personnel. Only a licensed primary care veterinarian and for many procedures a board-certified veterinary surgeon has the education and training necessary to safely perform surgeries on animals and address any associated issues that can arise when performing these surgeries.

The years of rigorous and comprehensive education necessary to achieve a veterinary medical degree provide primary care veterinarians with specific expertise in patient evaluation prior to surgery. It is imperative that an appropriate diagnosis is made before planning any surgical procedures. Veterinarians are trained to develop safe and effective plans for anesthesia; apply proper surgical techniques or refer the patient when necessary to an ACVS board-certified veterinary surgeon; quickly identify and manage difficult or unexpected situations that can occur during surgery (e.g., deviations in expected anatomy; atypical patient reactions to anesthesia, including those related to respiratory or cardiac issues; excessive bleeding); and recommend appropriate postoperative care.

ACVS board-certified veterinary surgeons are veterinarians who completed additional, advanced training after veterinary school and met all requirements of ACVS board-certification. The knowledge of these veterinary professionals is essential to successfully perform surgery and is critically important to protecting the health, safety, and well-being of veterinary patients. Every animal deserves access to high-quality, safe care. Surgical procedures for animals must continue to be carried out by a primary care veterinarian or a board-certified veterinary surgeon. They are uniquely educated, trained, qualified, and licensed for veterinary surgery.

ACVS stands universally opposed to permitting individuals who do not possess a veterinary license to perform any surgical procedures on animals.

Questions regarding ACVS’s position should be directed to ACVS Communication Director Lucretia DiSanto at