Working With Animals: Do You Need a DBS Check?

Criminal record or DBS checks may not spring to mind if you’re working with animals, or recruiting someone to do so, but for some roles they may be appropriate.

Working with animals

In this blog we’ll explore some of the different roles that involve working with animals, and whether they’re eligible for DBS checks.

Veterinary surgeons

One of the most common roles involving working with animals is a veterinary surgeon. As part of the legislation which sets out eligibility for DBS checks, veterinary surgeons are explicitly eligible for a standard DBS check on entry into the profession.

A standard DBS check will detail any spent or unspent convictions the applicant has, as well as any cautions, warnings or reprimands they’ve received. As the legislation states, it’s only on entry into the profession that vets are eligible for this check.

Pet-sitting animals

Those who work for or run pet-sitting or dog walking companies may also consider applying for a criminal record check. However, operating these services either from your own home or by visiting clients’ homes doesn’t meet the eligibility requirements for a higher level of DBS check.

Instead, you could request a basic criminal record check, issued either by the Disclosure and Barring Service or Disclosure Scotland. This type of check will detail any unspent convictions the applicant has.

Working with therapy animals

Therapy animals often visit places such as hospices or hospital wards to provide therapy to residents. Handlers who look after and accompany such animals would therefore also often work in these establishments.

If you’re a handler who accompanies animals on hospital or hospice wards, then you’ll usually be eligible for a standard DBS check. This is often the most appropriate level of check because you won’t be providing any care yourself, but will be classed as coming into contact with patients in receipt of care. As such, a standard DBS check is most suitable.

DBS checks when working with animals: A summary

When working with animals, DBS checks can be a useful part of recruitment.

Which type of check you’re eligible for will depend on your role. If your position isn’t eligible for a higher level of DBS check, a basic disclosure can provide an extra layer of reassurance – either for you as an employer or for the clients you work with.

For any eligibility queries, you can contact the DBS directly.

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