The RWAF are hoping to make 2011 the year for the rabbit.

One of our key activities is taking part in Rabbit Awareness Week (RAW) in May with other major welfare organisations such as RSPCA, PDSA, Blue Cross and the main sponsor Burgess Pet Care. RAW will be in a pet shop or Vet near you very soon, and will be raising the profile of pet rabbits and their welfare needs, with this year’s focus being on behaviour. Rabbits have some fascinating natural behaviours but often are unable to display these as pets due to inadequate accommodation and living alone. Please look at the RAW website for more information.

As well as continuing with our successful ‘A Hutch is Not Enough’ campaign, we also have a series of press releases and awareness campaigns in the pipeline over the coming months – all aimed at dispelling the myth that rabbits can live happily alone in a hutch. We have started with our Wedding Vows press release to try and ‘bunny-back’ onto the media interest in the forthcoming royal wedding. We will keep you informed of our campaigns and progress via our website, facebook and news blog so please keep an eye out – and if you haven’t joined or registered with our facebook group then please do sign up!
http://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/The-Rabbit-Welfare-Association-and-Fund/191449507147?sk=wall&filter=2

We believe that ‘A Hutch is Not Enough’ and that every pet rabbit deserves to live in an area that permanently allows them to display their natural behaviours such as running, digging, jumping, foraging, and grooming another rabbit. A hutch is a shelter and should only be used as part of a larger living area. Rabbits should be neutered and vaccinated and have the companionship of another neutered rabbit, and a good quality diet with hay or forage provided for health and emotional enrichment reasons. We will work to improve the lives of rabbits in the UK by spreading the messages above, and aim to raise the status of the pet rabbit to that of the pet cat and dog.

In 2011 the RWAF have set the following core objectives:

– To raise the profile of the pet rabbits and their welfare needs by educating owners and potential owners alike, and by working with the retail industry to improve standards.

– To raise awareness that rabbits are not cheap and easy children’s pets and to discourage people from taking on rabbits if they are unlikely to be responsible owners.

– To continue to campaign, including our ‘A Hutch is Not Enough’ campaign, which is gaining support and is already making a difference – with retailers withdrawing tiny 3ft hutches from sale and including 6ft and larger hutches in their range – and our ‘Toys Aren’t Us’ message which reminds potential owners that rabbits, despite their cute and fluffy looks, are not toys that can be discarded after a few months.

– To increase membership of the RWA – because more members means a bigger voice to shout with.

– To support the vital work of rescue shelters wherever we can.

Every activity we undertake this year will be in line with our core objectives.

We will be clear and transparent with our members about our activities.
We will focus on a positive behaviour change for owners and retailers.
We will work with other like minded organisations to further achieve our common goals.
We will be pragmatic – we will work with organisations with whom we may not be like minded, but where there is a necessity for a dialogue in order to impart our values and improve standards to benefit pet rabbits.
We will not compromise our beliefs
We will not accept flimsy excuses from retailers; we will name and shame those who ignore our messages and put profit before welfare.
We accept sponsorship but will never compromise our agenda – to improve the lives of pet rabbits – to appease a sponsor.

Our over arching mission is to improve the lives of rabbits kept as pets in the UK.

So if you love rabbits and want to help us help them – please join.
You will get our fantastic magazine ‘Rabbiting On’ every quarter, and you will be helping us to continue our work.

Rabbits stolen from Surrey / Hampshire border

Yet another distressing message from an owner who has had rabbits stolen from the garden. Please ensure that your fencing is safe and garden gates are bolted and where possible are padlocked. Its also an idea to padlock any hutch and run doors too, this is becomming more common.

Emma has contacted the police and has been advised to speak to her local vets, rescue shelters and pet shops in the hope that they have been found and handed in.

We have Emma’s contact details if anyone has any information to pass to her.

This is her message below:

I’m not sure if you deal with this sort of thing but i’m emailing anyone i can find in desperation. My two rabbits have been stolen/let out of their hutches while we were at work today and i want to get in touch with as many people as possible in the hope of getting them back.

The smallest one is called Shandy and he is light brown and white, he is very friendly once he feels safe with someone and loves giving kisses and being cuddled, he is a dwarf dutch. The 2nd rabbit is called Dylan he is grey and white, he has a skin allergy resulting in the loss of some of his fur on his sides, he is shyer than Shandy and doesn’t like to be cuddled just likes to be stroked when he knows someone, he is a dutch english cross and a lot bigger than Shandy.

Both rabbits mean an awful lot to our family and we are desperate for their return. If you can help in anyway or direct me to someone who can help we would be extremely grateful. The rabbits have gone missing from the Mytchett area near the Quays pub, the police have been informed as the rabbits couldn’t have escaped and the doors on their hutches were closed behind them. I have pictures that i can circulate if required.

Year FOR the rabbit.

Well it’s now the Chinese year of the rabbit, so happy new bunny year everyone!

Rather than this being the year of the rabbit, we want to make this a great year for the rabbit.

Your support is crucial so please keep keep on checking the postings on facebook for news on our campaigns, and see how you can help. And look out for our new website that’s coming soon – and if you know anybody who has a rabbit then please point them in our direction.

Thanks everyone!

VHD outbreak reported in Scotland

Scotlands wild rabbit population is in danger of being totally wiped out by a deadly disease which is killing them in their thousands.

Colonies from the Borders to Aberdeen are being decimated by an outbreak of Viral Haemorrhagic disease. Experts have warned that the plague which strikes wild and pet rabbits could kill as much as 90% of the Scottish population and are calling for more to be done to monitor its spread. “

Please be aware that VHD is highly contagious and once this virus takes a real hold in the countryside, it will sweep down from Scotland into England and Wales very quickly. How can pet rabbits catch VHD ?

* Hay may have been in contact with infected wild rabbits as grass growing in the field.

* Birds or insects may transport the virus on their feet ( or in their droppings) to your rabbits grazing on the lawn

* The virus may be blown on the wind

* You may bring the virus home on your feet ( or car wheels from rabbit droppings)

Please ensure that your rabbit has been vaccinated for both VHD and Myxomatosis and warn family or friends with a bunny how important it is that they are protected.

Rabbits – not a cheap childrens pet.

Many people are surprised at how much it costs to properly care for two rabbits, so here is some information that everyone who is considering getting a rabbit should read before they take the plunge. Unlike Cats and Dogs which are not usually available from pet shops, rabbits are readily available and can be bought on impulse, without the full facts being known. It is not acceptable to keep a single rabbit confined to a hutch, yet it happens all too often, making rabbits the most neglected pets in the UK. Please don’t make the same mistake and cause unnecessary suffering.

It’s very common that a few months after purchase, the cute fluffy babies are fully grown rabbits and become unwanted, and either end up in rescue, or even worse, neglected at the bottom of the garden. Rabbits should live up to 10 years, but often don’t make it to four because of poor diet and living standards. A hutch simply is not enough – read on to see what rabbits need and how much you should expect to pay.

Initial set up costs
2 rabbits £60 – £100
(Rabbits should never be kept alone, they do get lonely)
Neutering of 2 rabbits – up to £180
(rabbits need to be neutered to live happily together and prevent accidental litters of rabbits)
Hutch / Run / Enclosure – £200 would be the minimum but could be up to £500.
(We recommend a 6ft x 2ft x 2ft hutch as a minimum with an attached 8 ft run, and you will really have to be lucky to get this for less than £400)
Bedding, bowls etc – £30
Toys £10
Hay / food – £20

Total initial set up costs – allow £930

Then monthly costs of
Hay – £15
(if buying pre packed, dust free from pet shops)
Good quality food £10
Bedding – £10
Fresh Vegetables – £20
Insurance – £15
Total Monthly costs – £70.00
Per annum this is £840

Then annual costs of
2 x myxi vaccines per year, per bunny – £100 on average
1 x VHD vaccine per annum per bunny – £50 on average
2 weeks in bunny boarding while you have your annual holiday – £70
Total annual costs in addition to usual monthly costs – £220

Added to usual monthly costs per annum the cost is £1060

Dental disease is very common and is very often due to poor diet, eg lack of hay, or lack of exercise, i.e. not letting the rabbits out of their hutch, so please don’t think that you can save money by cutting corners, because this usually ends in an ill rabbit and a huge vet bill. Dental procedures can be around £80 per bunny, and are usually avoidable if the diet and accommodation is right.

Rabbits should live on average for 10 years, so including the set up costs, to keep 2 rabbits properly will cost you on average over £11,550. Are you sure you still want to buy the children a pet rabbit now?!

Cutting corners and doing things on the cheap by keeping one rabbit alone in a small hutch, with a poor diet etc, is not an option that any decent person should consider. If you can’t afford to do it right, then don’t do it at all. There are other animals that may be more suitable .

Thousands of rabbits end up in rescue centres every year because children pester their parents for a cute fluffy bunny and then the novelty soon wears off. How many of your children’s toys are they playing with 6 months later? Let alone 12 months, 2 years, 10 years etc. Don’t be another statistic, do it right.

You should only consider taking on rabbits if you can put the time to them and give them a life that they deserve – A HUTCH IS NOT ENOUGH

The Magicians – BBC One, 15th January 2011

Good grief, did anyone see ‘The Magicians’ last night? Surely the use of live rabbits was not necessary and as a prey species the rabbits looked scared, were handled inappropriately, depicted inappropriately (cramped in a small shed and in buckets!) and we fear that children may try to copy what they saw on a prime time show which should quite frankly have known better. We can only be grateful that they stopped short of pulling them out by their ears.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/search?q=The+Magicians

It starts from around 40 minutes in.

We have written to the BBC to complain about the use of live rabbits on the show and would encourage anyone else who was offended, upset or angered by what they saw to do the same.

The BBC’s ‘how to make a complaint’ link can be found here:

https://www.bbc.co.uk/complaints/forms/