Skip to content

Standards & Advice update: June 2023

Following a decision of the RCVS Standards Committee lay people are now being advised to cease offering of intravaginal artificial insemination (‘AI’) breeding services for dogs.

At its May 2023 meeting the Standards Committee agreed the following guidance on the topic of canine intravaginal AI, confirming a limitation on who is legally entitled to undertake the procedure:

  • Intravaginal artificial insemination of bitches is an act of veterinary surgery which should only be undertaken by a veterinary surgeon or a professional with a relevant exemption, such as a registered veterinary nurse under direction.
  • As there is no specific exemption order allowing lay people to undertake this procedure, they are currently legally prohibited from doing so regardless of training or qualifications.
  • Note that canine transcervical artificial insemination is also an act of veterinary surgery subject to the same restrictions, although the invasive nature of this procedures means that it should not be delegated to registered veterinary nurses. Canine surgical artificial insemination is prohibited by UK animal welfare legislation.

As background, in 2017 the Committee considered that canine intravaginal AI should be classified as an act of veterinary surgery, however given that it is a minor procedure, that it was suitable for inclusion within an exemption order which would legally permit the procedure to be undertaken by non-veterinary surgeons.

The recommendation for the procedure to be included within an exemption order was made to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) in 2019 and renewed in 2022.

In the meantime, it was agreed that the RCVS would maintain the status quo as regards its advice that lay people may carry out the procedure without the involvement of a veterinary surgeon.

However, at the meeting in May 2023, the Committee agreed that as an exemption order (or other legislative measure) does not appear to be forthcoming, the RCVS cannot indefinitely maintain its position that lay people are able to undertake canine intravaginal AI when there is no legal basis to do so. However, should an exemption order be made in the future the Committee are unlikely to object.

The dispensation that allowed lay people to undertake this procedure has therefore come to an end, and the procedure is reserved for veterinary surgeons (or veterinary nurses under direction).

June 2023