|Can LVTs perform euthanasia?|
Member Question: Can a licensed veterinary technician perform euthanasia?
NYSVMS Legal Counsel: Regulations that allow an LVT to induce and maintain anesthesia can be interpreted to also allow the LVT to use the same anesthetics to perform euthanasia on an animal. The regulations specifically provide for an LVT to induce and maintain anesthesia only under the onsite supervision of a veterinarian, the same level of supervision described in the Practice Guidelines for Veterinarians as “direct supervision,” where “the veterinarian must be on the same premises as the person under supervision.” This level of veterinarian supervision of an LVT will apply in the case of an LVT performing euthanasia on an animal.
As with all duties delegated by the veterinarian to the LVT, the veterinarian must determine that the licensed individual has sufficient experience and training to perform the task. Tasks an LVT performs must be performed at the direction of the veterinarian, and that direction should be recorded in the animal’s medical record. Remember that ultimately the supervising veterinarian is responsible for the actions of the LVT working under their supervision. Whether the veterinarian or an LVT is performing the euthanasia, the owner’s written consent must be obtained and kept as part of the medical record.
It is wise to be cautious about performing euthanasia because of the number of complaints received by the NYSED Office of Professional Discipline from animal owners about euthanasias performed on their pets. Veterinarians have been disciplined not only for performing euthanasia without the consent of the owner, but also for improper administration of a euthanizing drug.
A different rule for individuals who can perform euthanasias applies in an SPCA or a municipal animal control facility (pound or shelter) where a veterinarian is not present. In the absence of a licensed veterinarian, euthanasias in those facilities can be performed only by individuals certified and registered with the NYS Department of Health to perform euthanasia on animals. LV Ts are qualified by their education and training to obtain that certification and registration, but must meet additional qualifications as well.
A non-veterinarian registered or certified to perform euthanasia on animals must be employed by the SPCA or animal control facility, and must follow all NYSDOH regulations relating to euthanasias performed on animals at SPCAs and animal control facilities, including required recordkeeping of the euthanasia and the drugs used in performing the euthanasia. (See Section 80.134 in the Department of Health Regulations).