Skip to content

Illegal veterinary practice

If you believe that someone is working as a veterinary surgeon when not qualified to do so, or not registered with us, and you have evidence of this, we would like to hear from you.

By law, only people who are qualified and registered are entitled to call themselves veterinary surgeons and practise veterinary medicine in the UK.

The practice of veterinary medicine includes:

  • Diagnosing animals
  • Offering veterinary advice
  • Treating animals
  • Prescribing veterinary medicines

This law – the Veterinary Surgeons Act 1966 – is to help safeguard animal health and welfare, to protect public health, and to maintain trust and confidence in the veterinary profession.

How we can help

If you can provide us with enough evidence that someone is working illegally as a veterinary surgeon, we may be able to help bring a private prosecution against them.

We will focus our resources to target the most serious breaches of the law, where allegations present a serious risk of harm to animal health and welfare, to public health, or to the profession’s reputation.

What you should do

If you have concerns about illegal veterinary practice, please contact us: [email protected] / 020 7202 0789

You should only report to us what you know or have witnessed yourself, not what you may have heard from someone else. The more detail you can provide, the better.

Please note, we may not be able to follow up anonymous reports and, other than in exceptional circumstances, we will not be able to consider matters that are more than six months old.

What we can’t help with

There are a number of situations where we do not have powers to investigate. If you have concerns about any of the following, please click for more information about what to do and who to contact instead.

Threat of imminent serious injury or harm to an animal

If you have concerns about a threat of imminent serious injury or harm to an animal, you should:

Call your local police – view a list of all UK police forces


Depending on where you have witnessed this threat, call the RSPCA, SSPCA, or USPCA

  • England & Wales: call the RSPCA on 0300 1234 999
  • Scotland: call the SSPCA on 03000 999 999
  • Northern Ireland the USPCA on 028 3025 1000

Misleading courses/businesses that offer veterinary qualifications

If you have concerns about a misleading course and/or business, you should report these to Trading Standards.

Find a local Trading Standards office

Illegal possession, use and/or supply of veterinary medicines

If you have concerns about the illegal, possession, use and/or supply of controlled drugs, for example, ketamine, methadone:

If you have concerns about the illegal possession, use and/or /supply of other veterinary medicines:

Further information

To request a copy of the RCVS Protocol for the Investigation & Private Prosecution of Illegal Practice, please email: [email protected].