I wrote to the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons on 14 October 2012 to clarify the regulation regarding reiki and healing for animals and have received the following answer from their Professional Conduct Department:
As you are aware, the RCVS is the regulatory body for veterinary surgeons and veterinary nurses in the United Kingdom and has statutory responsibilities under the Veterinary Surgeons Act 1966 (‘the Act’).
Section 19 of the Act creates a criminal offence for non-veterinary surgeons to practise veterinary surgery.
Section 27 of the Act defines ‘veterinary surgery’ as meaning the art and science of veterinary surgery and medicine and includes –
(a) the diagnosis of diseases in, and injuries to, animals including tests performed on animals for diagnostic purposes;
(b) the giving of advice based on such diagnosis;
(c) the medical or surgical treatment of animals; and
(d) the performance of surgical operations on animals.
There are certain exemptions in the Act to this restriction for non-veterinary surgeons, some of which are listed in Schedule 3 to the Act and others are contained in Exemption Orders. However, the restrictions and exemptions in the Act will only be relevant where a person is practicing ‘veterinary surgery’ as defined in the Act. However, performing reiki on an animal is unlikely to fall within this definition and is therefore not restricted to veterinary surgeons.
Information in relation to the treatment of animals by non-veterinary surgeons can be found in the Code of Professional Conduct (‘the Code’), particularly the relevant paragraphs Chapter 19 of the Supporting Guidance. The Code identifies the key responsibilities of veterinary surgeons to their patients, clients, the public and professional colleagues, as well as their responsibilities under the law. It is not a detailed rulebook, but rather it sets out fundamental principles which may be applied to all areas of veterinary practice.
Reiki is not strictly defined in the Code. However, Reiki as understood by the RCVS is healing by the laying on of hands and not generally regarded as the practice of veterinary surgery as defined by the Act and restricted to veterinary surgeons, provided there is no element of diagnosis. On this basis, there may otherwise be no formal jurisdiction to insist upon the involvement of a veterinary surgeon before the laying on of hands is given, although any person who provides healing to an animal that has not first been seen by a veterinary surgeon runs the risk that their actions will be considered to involve diagnosis and be a breach of the Act and criminal offence.
This is because owners often bring an animal to a healer because there is something wrong. Leaving the determination whether an animal is sick or injured to a healer calls for diagnosis in breach of the Act. Where an owner asks a faith healer to maintain an animal’s good health, by ensuring that the animal has first been seen by a veterinary surgeon who is content for healing to be given by the laying on of hands, the risk that the healer’s actions may constitute diagnosis is removed and any matter requiring treatment by a veterinary surgeon can be resolved. It may also successfully fulfil any obligations an owner has to obtain appropriate care for their animal under the Animal Welfare Act.
Therefore, the RCVS considers that any healers should ensure that animals have been seen by a veterinary surgeon who is content for healing to be given by the laying on of hands. The RCVS is not an enforcement authority under the Act and ultimately it would be for the Police or Trading Standards to investigate any complaint that a non-veterinary surgeon was breaching the Act although the RCVS would assist with any investigation or subsequent prosecution.
I do not claim to diagnose animals and I do not advise on treatments for any illnesses, injuries, or diseases.
Please only request Reiki for your pet companions once they have been seen by a vet who is happy for this type of therapy to be given. By requesting distant Reiki through this site, I will assume you have done so.
I abide to the Animal Reiki Practitioner Code of Ethics.