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Horse Dentistry

NZ Harness Trainers & Drivers Assn
Published by Pete Cook in News · 5 July 2019
The Association has been advised that the Ministry of Primary Industry is putting forward a large raft of proposals concerning animal welfare. The issue that has caught our attention is a change in the law surrounding horse dentistry.
The new idea is that it should be compulsory to have a veterinarian present to administer any necessary drugs and/or painkillers during an extraction. It reads:
New Proposal: No-one may cut the tooth of an animal except: a veterinarian or competent non-veterinarian who may:-clip the teeth of a pig less than 5 days old; or-cut a boar’s tusk with a wire; or-cut a llama or alpaca’s fighting tooth with a wire, or a veterinarian who may cut teeth for the purposes of extraction, and pain relief must be used at the time of the procedure. The owner or person in charge of the animal has responsibility to ensure that only competent people perform this procedure. Fighting teeth (sometimes referred to as fangs): modified canine and incisor teeth found in the jaw between the incisors and the molars. Needle teeth: any small sharp teeth in piglets, but principally the canine teeth. Original Proposal In the 2016 consultation, MPI proposed that any power tool used on an animal for dental works must be designed for the purpose of dentistry. Power tools are used in some dentistry procedures, for example, grinding or floating teeth in horses.
Rationale for change: The majority of submissions on this regulatory proposal, in the 2016 consultation, suggested that there be stronger measures and higher penalties. A significant number of stakeholders called for a wider range of dental procedures to be regulated including teeth extraction, floating teeth and cutting teeth.
Current state: Teeth cutting is performed by veterinarians and non-veterinarians.
The Ministry is asking for submissions on this matter with two options:
Option 1: A competent person may extract a loose deciduous incisor or cheek tooth from an equid.
Option 2: A competent person may extract an equid’s finger-loose deciduous incisor or cheek tooth that has obvious visual recession of the gingiva and is protruding above the occlusal surface, but may not use tools or other equipment. All other equid tooth extractions are veterinarian-only procedures. Pain relief must be used at the time of the procedure.
The Ministry is holding a number of public meeting, the details of which can be obtained on their website or by contacting the undersigned. HRNZ are preparing submission and it is possible the Association will also be submitting their opinions. Any thoughts on this, let me know.
Pete Cook

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