Instagram

We are aware of the outcry on Instagram surrounding a male in the USA who has killed 5 rabbits. Our Welfare Officer Mark Dron has started an investigation into this and has found that this individual is hiding behind multiple accounts; although Instagram do seem to be closing his accounts. Unfortunately as fast as they close them a new permutation of the user name appears.

The images are horrendous and do need to be dealt with. We are not going to share them. Mark has collated the evidence he has found and has passed it to the relevant authorities in the UK, who we hope will liase with their counterparts in the USA.

We wanted to let supporters know that although this is in the USA we have done what we can here, but also to let you know about a petition that
might be worth signing and sharing.

http://chn.ge/2Gtp0L2

Is Peter Rabbit For Me?

Peter Rabbit The Movie

The long anticipated Peter Rabbit movie will be released in the UK on 16th March. A much loved, long-standing fictional character, yes, but the release of this film will undoubtedly increase the number of children who see the film to want their very own Peter Rabbit. Sadly, many parents will give in to ‘pester power’.

This social media campaign which the Rabbit Welfare Association & Fund are about to launch to coincide with the opening of the movie in the UK, is a factual insight into what having rabbits as pets is all about. There is certainly more to rabbits than cute twitching noses and fluffy tails. This campaign has been designed to make adults who are considering getting a ‘Peter Rabbit’ for their child to think of the practicalities before taking the plunge

Please, please join us in spreading the message by sharing the 10 rabbit facts as far and wide as you can. Thanks.

If you know of anyone who is thinking of buying pet rabbits, please share.

Fact #1 300 poos a day!

Yes, okay, Peter Rabbit is uber-cute and you’ve seen the film and fallen in love. BUT, did you know that the average ‘output’ from a single bunny in a given day is 300 poos? We kid you not. That’s quite a lot of clearing up isn’t it?! Rabbits are pretty good at learning how to use a litter tray, but it does require a bit of patience and a lot of time to teach them. Have you got that time and patience? You can expect to have a thorough clean out at least once a week, but there will undoubtedly be some daily housekeeping duties to attend to in order to ensure that your rabbits living quarters remain clean and disease free.

Thinking that your child will take on this responsibility? Not in our experience. Children lose interest in pet rabbits really, really quickly, leaving Mum or Dad on poo duty!

#whatgoesinmustcomeout

Still want rabbits…?

If you know of anyone who is thinking of buying pet rabbits, please share.

More advice at: http://www.rwaf.org.uk/lflts
More about the Rabbit Welfare Association and Fund: http://www.rwaf.org.uk/website

Fact #2 Having you own Peter Rabbit can mean very expensive vet bills…

So you’ve seen the Peter Rabbit movie and have decided you just have to have your very own Peter Rabbit. Rabbits are cheap pets right? You are *joking*! On average, a pet rabbit will cost the owners over £5,000 during their lifetime. Rabbits will need to be neutered and have regular trips to the vets for vaccination against Myxomatosis and Viral Haemorrhagic Disease. If you are planning on getting rabbits as pets, you are most definitely recommended to get pet health insurance. This can cost upwards of £60 per year, per rabbit.

Even so, rabbits often have dental problems, which are rarely covered by insurance. If your rabbits are affected (and they are very likely to be, unless you feed them a grass/hay-based diet!) then the cost of essential regular dental treatment can quickly add up to hundreds of pounds each year.

Still want rabbits…?

If you know of anyone who is thinking of buying pet rabbits, please share.

More advice at: http://www.rwaf.org.uk/lflts
More about the Rabbit Welfare Association and Fund: http://www.rwaf.org.uk/website

Fact #3 Peter rabbit cannot live in solitary confinement, that would be cruel.

Even in the story, Peter lived with Flopsy, Mopsy, Cotton-tail and his mother. Did you know that rabbits are actually very social creatures. Wild rabbits live in colonies, never on their own. Rabbits should be kept in neutered pairs or compatible groups.

Recent scientific research has confirmed that rabbits suffer from stress and loneliness if kept alone: they value companionship as much as food – and you wouldn’t keep them without food, would you?

So if you are seriously thinking of getting a rabbit, better make that rabbits as it would be cruel to keep one on its own.

And remember the 300 poos per day, that’ll increase to 600 when you get a friend for your rabbit. Not to mention the vet bills covered in fact #2.

Still want rabbits…?

If you know of anyone who is thinking of buying pet rabbits, please share.

More advice at: http://www.rwaf.org.uk/lflts
More about the Rabbit Welfare Association and Fund: http://www.rwaf.org.uk/website

Fact #4 Rabbits: a hutch is not enough

In the original tale, Peter lived with Flopsy, Mopsy Cotton-tail and his mother underneath the root of a fir tree. The reality is that Peter Rabbit and his friends in the real world need much more consideration for their living quarters.

Did you know it was the Victorians who first kept rabbits in hutches – a short term storage solution before the animals went to the pot?

We’ve moved on a great deal since then, but the habit of keeping rabbits in hutches has stuck.

Rabbits are not designed to live in a confined space. In the wild they roam over an area equivalent to 6 football pitches. They’re not designed to live alone either – wild rabbits live in large social groups, foraging, grooming each other and huddling together for warmth. Rabbits living alone experience high levels of stress.
Domestic rabbits are not fundamentally far removed from their wild cousins. They share the same need to run, jump, explore and share companionship with their own kind, so their accommodation must allow them to display these natural behaviours.

The Rabbit Welfare Association & Fund recommends a minimum area of 10 x 6 (3m x 2m) which includes a shelter of minimum size of 6′ x 2′ x 2′, which allows rabbits some room to move, stand on their hind legs and enough space for the food, toilet and sleeping areas to be kept apart. It is commonly accepted that a rabbit should have space for 3 hops, but it is commonly underestimated just how far 3 hops is – our tests show that 3 hops from an average sized rabbit covers 6-7 feet!
A hutch should only be a shelter and not the only living space. It should be attached to a secure run of at least 8′ x 6′. This gives an overall area of 10 x 6 (3 x 2)

Please bear in mind that these recommendations are all minimums – and like many things in life, bigger is better!
Rabbits also need stimulation, and companionship
Still want rabbits…?

If you know of anyone who is thinking of buying pet rabbits, please share.

More advice at: http://www.rwaf.org.uk/lflts
More about the Rabbit Welfare Association and Fund: http://www.rwaf.org.uk/website

Fact #5 Peter Rabbit and his friends HATE cuddles

It’s a great myth that rabbits are cute and cuddly. Take it from us, they are not!

Although Peter Rabbit and his friends may look cute and cuddly, rabbits are ground loving creatures who are easily scared if they are swooped off the ground. This fear can quite easily turn to aggression and it is not uncommon for a frightened rabbit to scratch or even bite an owner in their bid for freedom. This is particularly worrying if you are intending to get rabbits as pets for a child. Children naturally want to pet cute furry animals and pick them up, but rabbits simply HATE it. If your child is looking for something soft and cuddly to pick up, then buy a fluffy toy, rabbits are not for them! Try this: http://amzn.to/2ECIPBK

Still want rabbits…?

If you know of anyone who is thinking of buying pet rabbits, please share.

More advice at: http://www.rwaf.org.uk/lflts
More about the Rabbit Welfare Association and Fund: http://www.rwaf.org.uk/website

Fact #6 Kids lose interest in pet rabbits

If you and your child have seen the Peter Rabbit movie, no doubt you’ve fallen in love and think what a great idea it would be to have one as a pet.

Even before the film we’ve heard it *so* many times; “my daughter/son desperately wanted rabbits, they said they would look after them, we thought they would be easy to look after, but now my son/daughter has lost interest so we want to rehome the rabbits…”

Yep, no doubt about it, kids lose interest and very often less than six months after buying the rabbits. It’s not a good result for the rabbits (did you know there are currently ~67,000 rabbits waiting to be rehomed in the UK) and not a good result for the parent (what about all the money you spent on the hutch cage/food/vaccinations/neutering etc!).

Please, think long and hard before committing to buy rabbits for your child. Try a soft toy instead…

Still want rabbits…?

If you know of anyone who is thinking of buying pet rabbits, please share.

More advice at: http://www.rwaf.org.uk/lflts
More about the Rabbit Welfare Association and Fund: http://www.rwaf.org.uk/website

Fact #7 Rabbits cost more than you think: £11K!

£11K, for rabbits? We’re kidding, right? No, we’re afraid not!

Okay, so in the Tale of Peter Rabbit, it doesn’t seem as though rabbits cost much, apart from losing his little blue coat and shoes in Mr McGregor’s garden. The reality is different…

Although pet rabbits are usually inexpensive to buy, they should definitely not be seen as ‘cheap’ pets. Here’s why:

Building a safe, secure outdoor enclosed complex can cost several hundred pounds. Or, if you decide to keep your rabbits indoors, an indoor cage (remember that our minimum size of accommodation is the same as for outdoor rabbits) and essential equipment will not leave much change out of £300.

Your rabbits will need regular supplies of a good quality rabbit food, hay, and bedding.

Then there’s the vet bills and veterinary insurance covered in Fact #2…

We estimate that a pair of rabbits (and remember it cruel to keep just one rabbit) over their lifetime will cost around £11,000 – can you afford that?

Still want rabbits…?

If you know of anyone who is thinking of buying pet rabbits, please share.

More advice at: http://www.rwaf.org.uk/lflts
More about the Rabbit Welfare Association and Fund: http://www.rwaf.org.uk/website

Fact #8 Rabbits have complicated care needs

The Tale of Peter Rabbit is charming for sure and depicts a simple, idyllic lifestyle with Peter and his brothers and sisters being let out to play with hardly a care in the world. This is a long way from the reality of having rabbits as pets.

The days of a single rabbit in a hutch being given a dish of muesli should be long gone. Haven’t you heard A Hutch is Not Enough? We might have mentioned that once or twice! To be good rabbit owners you need to be able to provide all of this:
• A companion rabbit – rabbits need the companionship of one or more neutered rabbits. So if you are still planning on getting your own Peter Rabbit, make sure you get a Flopsy, Mopsy and/or Cotton-tail too.
• A hay based diet, with pellets and greens every day. Not lettuce though, this is soporific for rabbits and shouldn’t be fed. Without the right diet, rabbits can develop diseases and have problems with teeth.
• An area 3m x 2m (10 x 6ft) to live in all of the time, regardless of whether they are inside or outside. Yes, all of the time! This should have a shelter area, as well as a digging pit, a grazing area, a platform to look out from and room to rear up tall, run, jump and binky!
• Vaccinations every year, currently they need 2 different ones to protect them against both myxi and RVHD 1 & 2
• Cleaning out thoroughly every week and a spot clean every day. As well as a daily check for fly strike, especially in warm weather
• Taken to the vet at the first sign of change in eating habits or poo. Tomorrow is too late, if this means the emergency vet, then the emergency vet it is!
• A weekly health MOT
• An abundance of nose rubs

Still want rabbits…?

If you know of anyone who is thinking of buying pet rabbits, please share.

More advice at: http://www.rwaf.org.uk/lflts
More about the Rabbit Welfare Association and Fund: http://www.rwaf.org.uk/website

Fact #9 Rabbits can live forever

Okay, we’re exaggerating, but I bet you get a shock when you learn that it is not uncommon for rabbits to live for 10 years or more. Some rabbits have been known to live for 15 years!

Rabbits are often acquired for children (frequently following displays of “pester power”!) but it is essential to remember that the adult is always responsible for any pet… therefore at least one adult in the household must be prepared to commit sufficient time, energy and money to the rabbits for the next decade. Don’t forget, Peter, Flopsy, Mopsy and Cotton-tail may still be alive and kicking when your child heads off to College or University leaving you firmly with the responsibility! Rabbits are not cheap and easy children’s pets!

Still want rabbits…?

More advice at: http://www.rwaf.org.uk/lflts
More about the Rabbit Welfare Association and Fund: http://www.rwaf.org.uk/website

Fact #10 There are already 67K rabbits in rescue centres

Do you truly want to add to that statistic? You need to ask yourself why there are such a *huge* number of abandoned rabbits in rescue centres all over the UK. Well now, let’s recap:

#1 – a single rabbit can produce up to 300 poos per day. Wow, that’s a lot of clearing up!
#2 – expensive vet bills. Neutering, vaccination, inevitable dental work…
#3 – rabbits should be kept in pairs or groups, not singly (calculate the poos and vet bills!)
#4 – rabbits need huge hutches – have you go the space in your home or garden. Did you know a suitable hutch complex can cost several hundred pounds?
#5 – rabbits, despite their appearance do not like being picked up and cuddled and can get aggressive when they become frightened.
#6 – children get bored of pet rabbits. It’s fact. Don’t give in to ‘pester power’.
#7 – expect to pay out £11,000 for rabbits over their lifetime (see #2 And #4)
#8 – complicated care needs , a Hutch is simply *not enough*
#9 – rabbits can live for 10 years and over. Many people don’t factor this in.

Still want rabbits…?

We hope you enjoyed our 10 facts helping you to decide if you really want your own Peter Rabbit. If you know of anyone who is thinking of buying pet rabbits, please share.

More advice at: http://www.rwaf.org.uk/lflts
More about the Rabbit Welfare Association and Fund: http://www.rwaf.org.uk/website

 

 

RWAF Conference 2018

 

Langford Vet School, Bristol

23rd and 24th June

We are now taking bookings for our 2018 Conferences

 

RWAF Owner Conference 2018

2018 Owners pdf download details and booking form

The conference for owners and rescue workers can be booked here
https://shop.rabbitwelfare.co.uk/product/rwaf-owners-conference-2018/

RWAF Veterinary Conference 2018

The veterinary conference is open to vets, vet nurses and vet students and places can be booked here https://shop.rabbitwelfare.co.uk/product/rwaf-veterinary-conference-2018/

2018 Vets flyer download details and booking form

 

In each case scroll down the page to see everything that’s on offer.

Once again we are very happy to be able to offer two days to all delegates. On the first day the two conferences will be separate and then on the second day all delegates will be brought together for the behaviour and welfare day. You can book just the Saturday or just the Sunday or for a discount both days together.

If you prefer not to book online we can take your booking by phone at the usual number 0844 324 6090 between 11 and 3 on weekdays.

Don’t miss your chance, book early. The number of places will be limited.

 

Extreme winter weather

With amber and red weather warnings for the severe weather in most of the country we are asking people to act quickly to protect their outdoor pet rabbits.

Pictured this morning in Edinburgh

Our normal winter advice doesn’t cover these extreme conditions so we would ask owners to bring their rabbits into unused garages or sheds. Or if that is not possible then bring them indoors. But please be aware that if you are bringing them into the house, keep the room unheated. Rabbits are extremely sensitive to changes in temperature so if you put them in a room that is heated, it will be dangerous to put them outside in the cold again.

If you can’t bring them into a garage, shed or into the house then follow our winter advice, but multiply it by 10.

Rabbits really do suffer in these conditions – in the wild they’ll stay underground in large groups sharing body warmth. Pet rabbits rarely have that luxury. Keep them warm and dry, keep them safe.

Spring 2018 Campaign Update

Welcome to another Campaign Update, keeping you informed of our constant fight to make things better for bunnies.

Online sale of rabbits

Unlike these rabbits, many don’t live in a suitable environment
The online sale of pet rabbits is a huge problem and rapidly increasing. Rabbits are often sold without any accompanying care advice and without any vetting of the buyer. Rabbits are probably the most misunderstood of pets, so when people take them on without knowing how to care for them it results in neglect and suffering on  the part of the rabbit.

Pet shops in the UK are licenced by their local authorities and subject to annual inspections. They are also public places and welfare standards front of shop can be monitored by the public who can report any concerns. Pet shops should also be licensed according to the Sale of Pets 1951 legislation, and according to the Model Licence Conditions that were updated in 2013. All of this doesn’t mean that there aren’t any problems in terms of welfare, but it at least provides some protection for the animals, and some legal recourse.

This is not the case with online sales. Anyone can breed animals at home and sell them online. This activity is not licensed and there are no inspections. It is not public and there are no model conditions to be adhered to. It is mostly cash based and therefore untaxed.

Back in 2013 the RWAF discussed developing software with Hindesight, with the specific task of finding unlicensed online breeders/sellers. This software is now in use by other charities and the RWAF are very proud to have led the way here.

As you may already know from previous updates, we are very lucky to have Mark Dron in place as our Welfare Officer, who is monitoring the data provided by the software, as well as responding to other concerns that we see online.

This is a recap of what Mark has been working on during the first six months with us.

Introduction

Mark Dron has been working as the RWAF Animal Welfare Officer since May 2017
The Capone Campaign is designed to identify ‘rogue’ rabbit breeders, who use internet sales platforms (such as Ebay, Gumtree, Facebook, Shpock etc), as well as Pet Fairs and Boot Fairs, to sell rabbits, often with no welfare considerations for the animals, no health checks or vaccinations and no Local Authority licensing in place for running a pet sales business. The campaign relies on software provided by Hindesight, which maintains regular surveillance on sales sites looking for key words, and is then able to identify rabbit breeding and sales across the various platforms. It links common phone numbers, user names and email addresses, to minimise the ability of these ‘rogue’ traders to hide behind multiple anonymised identities. The RWAF also relies upon information provided by concerned members of the public about the welfare of rabbits in trade, and proactive research and investigation by the dedicated Animal Welfare Officer/investigator.

A post has been funded by Pets Corner since late 2015, working eight hours per week and tasked with a duty to carry out proactive and reactive investigations, based upon data provided by Hindesight and other sources. In May 2017 a new officer was retained by the RWAF, and the campaign was able to continue with its mission to identify ‘rogue’ traders and use every avenue available to it to minimise the impact of their activities. This includes referral to Local Authority Licensing Teams regarding failure to license pet sales businesses, the Police National Wildlife Crime Unit, RSPCA Intelligence Team and HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC).

The new officer brings with him over 25 years’ experience of investigation and enforcement work, coming from service with the Police as a Wildlife Crime Officer and Team leader of proactive intelligence teams, as well as from leading intelligence and investigation teams in a variety of Local Authority and Government agencies including Trading Standards and the Financial Conduct Authority.

2017 – A timeline

May 2017: The new officer was recruited and commenced duties on or about 28/05/2017.

June 2017: Investigations started in earnest, the first enquiry stemmed from information supplied by the RWAF Senior Management regarding the activities of a former glamour model, who had taken to breeding and selling giant rabbits, online. Investigations traced this breeder to their home address, and linked them to a pedigree
puppy breeding business.

They were referred to the Local Authority regarding the operation of an unlicensed pet sales business, and HMRC’s Tax Evasion Unit in London.

June also saw a wholesale review of how we did intelligence work, and the new officer revamped referral forms and processes to bring them in to line with the National Intelligence Model (NIM). This included the creation of a bespoke 5x5x5 Intelligence Document, a S9 Witness Statement, an intelligence/enforcement referral document,
as well as the start of research regarding sourcing a Criminal Justice secure email address and Data Protection Registration.

Ongoing long-term project work was also started in June. This involved the identification of traders using Gumtree and Pets4Homes with multiple identities and believed to be operating in the South East of England and further afield.

July 2017: Work started on two Kent-based prolific traders, one dealing in rabbits and wallabies and the second ostensibly based on the Island of Sheerness. The major concern with the Sheerness trader is the well-known presence of RVHD2, rendering the uncontrolled sale of pet rabbits from that location suspect and highly
irresponsible.

Work also started on the creation of a database of online traders, starting with those in SE England and London, and intended to develop across the UK as time allowed.  In tandem with this was the creation of a database of licensed sites, sourced from Open Source Local Authority Information and Freedom of Information requests.

August 2017: August saw the commencement of our long-term enquiry to identify one of the most prolific ‘rogue’ traders on the internet based in Halifax, who appeared to be linked to organised crime in that area. This enquiry is ongoing, and initial referrals have already been made to the National Wildlife Crime Unit (NWCU) and RSPCA as well as enquiries with the relevant local authorities.

Other work in August related to the establishment of our secure CJSM (Criminal Justice) email address, which allows us to make contact with the Police and other enforcement bodies in a secure fashion, thus allowing for a free passage of intelligence information. There was also the registration of the RWAF with the Information
Commissioner for Data Protection purposes, which allows us to handle certain sensitive data.

September 2017: September saw enquiries commenced in to the activities of traders in Kent, Essex, Suffolk and Wiltshire. An urgent referral was forwarded to the Animal Welfare Officer (AWO) regarding a female breeder operating on Facebook, who appeared to be selling rabbits via that platform despite having had RVHD2 diagnosed in her animals. An urgent intelligence referral was made to Wiltshire Trading Standards and the RSPCA, once the breeder’s last known address had been identified.

Incorrect care leads to neglect and suffering
October 2017: Work began on investigations into the activities of a Leeds based trader, who has been identified as a prolific breeder and advertiser, and a further Kent-based trader, who again is a prolific advertiser and sells using her own website.

October also saw work begin on a project identifying vendors of rabbit hutches, both online and in shops, offering products claiming to be authorised and recommended by the RWAF. To date two traders have been referred to local Trading Standards teams and the Advertising Standards Authority for making misleading claims in their advertising.

November 2017: Work continued regarding online and physical sellers around the South East. This included investigations regarding an urgent RWAF Management referral, following complaints about a breeder, who had been seen selling rabbits at a Pet Fair in the Thames Valley area, and keeping them in atrocious conditions. This seller was traced to Kent, where they run a Rare Breeds Centre from a Farm, the animals there are also being kept in suspect conditions.

This trader had claimed to the organisers of the Pet Fair that she held a Pet Shop Licence; this has however been shown to be a false claim. A full referral has been made to her Local Authority, HMRC and the RSPCA. In addition to this workstream, a further enquiry has arisen from Open Source monitoring of the Facebook Rabbit
Sales account, leading to a woman in Herne Bay, Kent who is running a rabbit breeding, sales and accessories website from her home address. This individual has been referred to her Local Authority, Canterbury City Council and to HMRC.

December 2017: Following a complaint from a member of the public regarding an online seller (using Gumtree) based in Wood Green, an investigation has been launched to identify and refer the individual as a matter of urgency. In his sales photos he can be seen mistreating one of his rabbits, holding it vertically by the ears,
and the conditions in which it and other rabbits are depicted fall well short of basic Animal Welfare Standards.

Enquiries have linked this individual to the sale of chickens as well as rabbits via a second online sales platform. Once again the conditions depicted are atrocious and urgent action is needed to intervene from an animal welfare standpoint. As such this was the officer’s priority investigation for December, although initial intelligence regarding his believed location and phone number(s) has already been passed to the RSPCA and the National Wildlife Crime Unit.

December has also seen the start of a work-stream to identify Romanian online traders, who are believed to be involved in the sale of pet rabbit breeds for food, anissue that has been mooted via social media for a few months, and appears to have become an issue to fuel the demand for rabbit meat amongst the Roma Gypsy
community in the UK.

In addition December has also seen the identified trader records moving north and west from the South East where resources have been concentrated for the first six months of the AWO’s tenure with the RWAF.

Conclusion

This report covers the period 28/05/2017 to 31/12/2017, which spans the current tenure of the Animal Welfare Officer/Investigator employed by the RWAF as part of the Capone Campaign.

The Campaign funds the officer for eight hours per week, and this has meant that prioritisation of workloads has been a major factor of the latter half of 2017’s activities.   The RWAF’s intelligence and investigation capability has had to be reviewed, and updated, making the function suitable to operate alongside and integrate with the
intelligence and investigation functions of other Animal Welfare charities and enforcement agencies. Therefore we now have Data Protection Registration, CJSM Secure Emails, and utilise National Intelligence Model referral forms, Magistrates’ Court Act compliant statements and the like.

In addition to this ongoing work, investigations have been instigated, in particular with regard to urgent cases, raised either by concerned members of the public/RWAF Management, or through issues being identified by the AWO. Six of these have been completed and referred to the appropriate local authorities, and nine intelligence referral packs have been passed to other enforcement/animal welfare agencies. In addition to this, the AWO has also fielded enquiries relating to ongoing animal welfare issues, and provided input to government animal welfare legislation consultations.

It is anticipated, now that the lion’s share of the overhaul of the administration of the function has been completed, that 2018 will see an exponential increase in investigation and intelligence work generated by the AWO.

Media Star! Members competition

RWAF Members

Do you and your rabbits want to become RWAF Social Media stars?  We are looking for members to profile in our new Social Media campaign which will run in February on both Facebook and Instagram.  Not only could you and your buns be featured, but there are some excellent prizes too (see later)!  All you need to do is submit one (or more) photo(s) of your rabbit and a separate photo of yourself and finish the following using between 250-300 words “ I am a member of the RWAF because…”    The RWAF Directors will select between 10-15 responses to use in the campaign.  Those selected to be profiled will receive a 10% off voucher for the RWAF shop https://shop.rabbitwelfare.co.uk/. And there’s more…once the campaign has run, the profile which receives the most likes/loves and shares will win this beautiful and unique rabbit memo board with stylus, specially made for us by Rosemary MacDonald.  The image is burnt into the wood and then lightly varnished

Deadline for entry is:   31st January 2018

How to enter in three easy steps:

Select one or more photos featuring you and separately, one or more of  your rabbit(s)

Finish the following  “ I am a member of the RWAF because…”    using between 250-300 words

Submit your photos along with your membership details and sentence here https://rabbitwelfare.co.uk/about-the-rwaf/photo-submissions/

Looking forward to hearing from you and seeing all your fabulous photos!

 

Capone Campaign Annual Report 2017

Introduction

The Capone Campaign is run by the Rabbit Welfare Association and Fund, with funds provided by the Pet Trade. The campaign is designed to identify “rogue” rabbit breeders, who use Internet Sales Platforms (such as Ebay, Gumtree, Facebook, Shpock etc) as well as Pet Fairs and Boot Fairs, to sell on rabbits, often with no welfare considerations for the animals, no health checks or inoculations and no Local Authority licensing in place for running a pet sales business .

The Campaign relies on software provided by Hindesight, which maintains regular surveillance on sales sites looking for key words, and is then able to identify rabbit breeding and sales across the various platforms, linking common phone numbers, user names and email addresses, to minimise the ability of these “rogue” traders to hide behind multiple anonymised identities. The RWAF also relies upon information provided by concerned members of the public about the welfare of rabbits in trade, and proactive research and investigation by their dedicated Animal Welfare Officer / Investigator.

A post has been funded by the Campaign since late 2015, working 8 hours per week and tasked with a duty to carry out proactive and reactive investigations, based upon data provided by Hindesight and other sources. In May 2017 a new officer was retained by the RWAF, and the Campaign was able to continue with its mission to identify “rogue” traders and use every avenue available to it to minimise the impact of their activities. This includes referral to Local Authority Licensing Teams regarding failure to license pet sales businesses, the Police National Wildlife Crime Unit, RSPCA Intelligence Team and HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC).

The new officer brings with him over 25 years’ experience of investigation and enforcement work, coming from service with the Police as a Wildlife Crime Officer and Team leader of proactive intelligence teams, as well as from leading intelligence and investigation teams in a variety of Local Authority and Government agencies including Trading Standards and the Financial Conduct Authority.

2017 –
A timeline

May 2017 –
The new officer was recruited and commenced duties on or about 28/05/2017.

June 2017 –
Investigations started in earnest, the first enquiry stemmed from information supplied by the RWAF Senior Management regarding the activities of a former glamour model, who had taken to breeding and selling giant rabbits, online. Her business now has a global reach, and it was she was the breeder who sent the giant rabbit to America, which later died in transit aboard a United Airlines flight, attracting considerable negative feedback in the press against both United and the breeder. Investigations traced this breeder to their home address, and linked them in to a “pedigree” puppy breeding business.

They were referred to the Local Authority regarding the operation of an unlicensed pet sales business, and HMRC’s Tax Evasion Unit in London.

June also saw a wholesale review of how we “did” intelligence work, and the new officer revamped referral forms and processes to bring them in to line with the National Intelligence Model (NIM), this included the creation of a bespoke 5x5x5 Intelligence Document, a S9 Witness Statement, an intelligence / enforcement referral document as well as the start of research regarding sourcing a Criminal Justice secure email address and Data Protection Registration.

Ongoing long-term project work was also started in June, this involved the identification of traders using Gumtree and Pets4Homes with multiple identities and believed to be operating in the south east of England and further afield.

July 2017 –
Work started on two Kent-based prolific traders, one dealing in rabbits and wallabies and the second ostensibly based on the Island of Sheerness. The major concern with the Sheerness trader is the well known presence of RHVD2, rendering the uncontrolled sale of pet rabbits from that location suspect and highly irresponsible.

Work also started on the creation of a “database” of online traders, starting with those in SE England and London, and intended to develop across the UK as time allowed. In tandem with this was the creation of a database of licensed sites, sourced from Open Source Local Authority Information and Freedom of Information requests.

August 2017 –
August saw the commencement of our a long-term enquiry to identify one of the most prolific “rogue” traders on the internet based in Halifax, who appear to be linked to organised Traveller crime in that area. This enquiry is ongoing, and initial referrals have already been made to the NWCU and RSPCA as well as enquiries with the relevant Local Authorities.

Other work in August related to the establishment of our secure CJSM (Criminal Justice) email address, which allows us to make contact with the Police and other enforcement bodies in a secure fashion, thus allowing for a free passage of intelligence information, and registration of THE RWAF with the Information Commissioner for Data Protection purposes, which allows us to handle certain sensitive data.

September 2017 –
September saw enquiries commenced in to the activities of traders in Kent, Essex, Suffolk and Wiltshire. An urgent referral was forwarded to the AWO regarding a female breeder operating on Facebook, who appeared to be selling rabbits via that platform despite having had RHVD2 diagnosed in her animals. An urgent intelligence referral was made to Wiltshire Trading Standards and the RSPCA, once the breeder’s last known address had been identified.

October 2017 –
Work began on investigations in to the activities of a Leeds based trader, who has been identified as a prolific breeder and advertiser and a further Kent-based trader, who again is a prolific advertiser and sells using her own website.

October also saw work begin on a project identifying vendors of rabbit hutches, both online and in shops, offering products claiming to be authorised and recommended by the RWAF. To date two traders have been referred to local Trading Standards teams and the Advertising Standards Authority for making misleading claims in their advertising.

November 2017 –
Work continued regarding online and physical sellers around the South East, this included investigations regarding an urgent RWAF Management referral, following complaints about a breeder, who had been seen selling rabbits at a Pet Fair in the Thames Valley area, and keeping them in atrocious conditions. This seller was traced to Kent, where they run a Rare Breeds Centre from a Farm, the animals there are also being kept in suspect conditions.

This trader had claimed to the organisers of the Pet Fair that she held a Pet Shop Licence, this has however been shown to be a false claim. A full referral has been made to her local authority, HMRC and the RSPCA. In addition to this workstream, a further enquiry has arisen from Open Source monitoring of the Facebook Rabbit Sales account, leading to a woman in Herne Bay, Kent who is running a rabbit breeding, sales and accessories website from her home address. This individual has been referred to her local authority, Canterbury City Council and to HMRC.

December 2017 –
Following a complaint from a member of the public regarding an online seller (using Gumtree), an individual based in Wood Green, an investigation has been launched to identify and refer the individual as a matter of urgency. In his sales photos he can be seen mistreating one of his rabbits, holding it vertically by the ears, and the conditions in which it and other rabbits are depicted fall well short of basic Animal Welfare Standards.

Enquiries have linked this individual to the sale of Chickens as well as rabbits via a second online sales platform, once again the conditions depicted are atrocious and urgent action is needed to intervene from an animal welfare standpoint. As such this is the officer’s priority investigation for December, although initial intelligence regarding his believed location and phone number(s) has already been passed to the RSPCA and the National Wildlife Crime Unit.

December has also seen the start of a work-stream to identify Romanian online traders, who are believed to be involved in the sale of pet rabbit breeds for food, an issue that has been mooted via social media for a few months, and appears to have become an issue to fuel the demand for rabbit meat amongst the Roma Gypsy community in the UK.

In addition December has also seen the identified trader records moving north and west from the South East where resources have been concentrated for the first six months of the AWO’s tenure with the RWAF.

Conclusion –
This report covers the period 28/05/2017 to 31/12/2017, which spans the current tenure of the Animal Welfare Officer / Investigator employed by the RWAF as part of the Capone Campaign.

The Campaign funds the officer for 8 hours per week, and this has meant that prioritisation of workloads has been a major factor of the latter half of 2017’s activities. The RWAF’s intelligence and investigation capability has had to be reviewed, and updated, making the function suitable to operate alongside and integrate with the intelligence and investigation functions of other Animal Welfare charities and enforcement agencies; hence we now have Data Protection Registration, CJSM Secure Emails, and utilise National Intelligence Model referral forms, Magistrates’ Court Act compliant statements and the like.

In addition to this ongoing work, investigations have been instigated, in particular with regard to “urgent” cases, raised either by concerned members of the public / RWAF Management, or through issues being identified by the AWO. Six of these have been completed and referred to the appropriate local authorities, and nine intelligence referral packs have been passed to other enforcement / animal welfare agencies.

In addition to this, the AWO has also fielded enquiries relating to ongoing animal welfare issues, and provided input to government animal welfare legislation consultations.

It is anticipated, now that the lion’s share of the overhaul of the administration of the function has been completed, that 2018 will see an exponential increase in investigation and intelligence work generated by the AWO.

Bunnies of the Year Competition 2017

(Open only to current members of the RWAF)

Our annual Bunny of the Year competition has been running for several years and last year we changed this to the ‘Bunnies of the Year competition’ to reflect the RWAFs belief that rabbits should only be kept in neutered pairs or compatible groups. As such only photos of two or more rabbits can be entered into this competition.

This year’s competition has 4 categories:
· Youngsters – 2 or more rabbits under 4 years old
· Older bunnies – 2 or more rabbits over 4 years of age
· Rescue bunnies – 2 or more rescue bunnies together. (You may also send a max of 100 words about each rabbit and their history)
· Happy bunnies – 2 or more bunnies binkying, playing, digging, snuggling, grooming each other etc.
Prizes are being awarded from 1st – 3rd in each category, and will consist of:

Youngsters category

1st place: They will receive a deluxe connection kit worth nearly £200 (donated by Runaround) 1 x 2kg Excel Junior Rabbit Nuggets, 1 x Long Stem Feeding Hay, 1 x Mountain Meadow Herbs, 1 x Country Garden Herbs, 1 x Apple Snacks and 1 x Gnaw Sticks (donated by Burgess Pet Care), 1 x 400g hand-packed Selective Timothy Hay (donated by Supreme Pet Foods), a Binky Trio (binky bell, boredom ball and treat bag – donated by The Binky Shop), and a Pet Remedy Atomiser (donated by Unex Design Ltd).
2nd place: 1 x 2kg Excel Junior nuggets (donated by Burgess Pet Care), a Happy Bunny Club box (donated by The Happy Bunny Club), 1 x 400g hand-packed Selective Timothy Hay (donated by Supreme Pet foods), a refillable Pet Remedy mini spray and a carton of 12 individual calming Pet Remedy wipes (donated by Unex Design Ltd).
3rd place: 1 x Mountain Meadow Herbs, 1 x Country Garden Herbs, 1 x Apple Snacks and 1 x Gnaw Sticks (donated by Burgess Pet Care), 1 x 1.1kg Oxbow Orchard Grass Hay (donated by Petlife International), 1 x 400g hand-packed Selective Timothy Hay (donated by Supreme Pet foods), and a refillable Pet Remedy mini spray (donated by Unex Design Ltd).

Older bunnies category:

1st place: 1 x 2kg Excel Mature Rabbit Nuggets, 1 x Long Stem Feeding Hay, 1 x Mountain Meadow Herbs, 1 x Country Garden Herbs, 1 x Apple Snacks and 1 x Gnaw Sticks (donated by Burgess Pet Care), 1 x 400g hand-packed Selective Timothy Hay (donated by Supreme Pet foods), a selection of Runaround goodies to include T-shirt, coasters and keyrings (donated by Runaround), a medium natural Binky table (donated by The Binky Shop), and a Pet Remedy Plug Diffuser pack (donated by Unex Design Ltd).
2nd place: 1 x 2kg Excel Mature rabbit nuggets (donated by Burgess Pet Care), a Happy Bunny Club box (donated by The Happy Bunny Club), 1 x 400g hand-packed Selective Timothy Hay (donated by Supreme Pet foods), a refillable Pet Remedy mini spray and a carton of 12 individual calming Pet Remedy wipes (donated by Unex Design Ltd).
3rd place: 1 x Mountain Meadow Herbs, 1 x Country Garden Herbs, 1 x Apple Snacks and 1 x Gnaw Sticks (donated by Burgess Pet Care), 1 x 425g Oxbow Oat Hay (donated by Petlife International), 1 x 400g hand-packed Selective Timothy Hay (donated by Supreme Pet foods), a refillable Pet Remedy mini spray and a carton of 12 individual calming Pet Remedy wipes (donated by Unex Design Ltd).

Rescue bunnies category:
1st place:  1 x 1.5kg Excel Natures Blend Nuggets, 1 x Long Stem Feeding Hay, 1 x Mountain Meadow Herbs, 1 x Country Garden Herbs, 1 x Apple Snacks and 1 x Gnaw Sticks (donated by Burgess Pet Care), a wooden rabbit hideout (donated by Hop Inn), 1 x 400g hand-packed Selective Timothy Hay (donated by Supreme Pet foods), a Binky Trio (binky bell, boredom ball and treat bag – donated by The Binky Shop), a selection of Runaround goodies to include T-shirt, coasters and keyrings (donated by Runaround), and a 200ml Pet Remedy calming spray (donated by Unex Design Ltd).
2rd place: 1 x 1.5kg Excel Natures Blend nuggets (donated by Burgess Pet Care), a Happy Bunny Club box (donated by The Happy Bunny Club), 1 x 400g hand-packed Selective Timothy Hay (donated by Supreme Pet foods), a refillable Pet Remedy mini spray and a carton of 12 individual calming Pet Remedy wipes (donated by Unex Design Ltd).
3rd place: 1 x Mountain Meadow Herbs, 1 x Country Garden Herbs, 1 x Apple Snacks and 1 x Gnaw Sticks (donated by Burgess Pet Care), 1 x Oxbow Baked peppermint Treats (donated by Petlife International), 1 year’s supply of Selective Naturals Grain Free Rabbit Food (for one rabbit, based on feeding guidelines – donated by Supreme Pet foods), 1 x 400g hand-packed Selective Timothy Hay (donated by Supreme Pet foods), and a refillable Pet Remedy mini spray (donated by Unex Design Ltd).

Happy bunnies category:

1st place  1 x 1.5kg Excel Natures Blend Nuggets, 1 x Long Stem Feeding Hay, 1 x Mountain Meadow Herbs, 1 x Country Garden Herbs, 1 x Apple Snacks and 1 x Gnaw Sticks (donated by Burgess Pet Care), 1 x 400g hand-packed Selective Timothy Hay (donated by Supreme Pet foods), a selection of Runaround goodies to include T-shirt, coasters and keyrings (donated by Runaround), a medium natural Binky table (donated by The Binky Shop), and a carton of 12 individual calming Pet Remedy wipes (donated by Unex Design Ltd).
2nd place:  1 x 1.5kg Excel Natures Blend Nuggets (donated by Burgess Pet Care), a Happy Bunny Club box (donated by The Happy Bunny Club), 1 x 400g hand-packed Selective Timothy Hay (donated by Supreme Pet foods) and a carton of 12 individual calming Pet Remedy wipes (donated by Unex Design Ltd).
3rd place:  1 x Mountain Meadow Herbs, 1 x Country Garden Herbs, 1 x Apple Snacks and 1 x Gnaw Sticks (donated by Burgess Pet Care), 1 year’s supply of Science Selective (for one rabbit, based on feeding guidelines – donated by Supreme Pet foods) and 1 x 400g hand-packed Selective Timothy Hay (donated by Supreme Pet foods).

Not only could you win some amazing prizes, but your rabbits could be crowned ‘Bunnies of the Year 2017’, and may feature on the cover of the Spring 2018 Rabbiting On.
To raise vital funds for the important work that the RWAF does, there is a small entry fee of £2 per photograph entered. You can enter as many photos as you like.

Photos can be entered as prints of digital images (preferably saved on a CD). Please set your camera to the maximum image quality to ensure that the resulting file is large and detailed enough to be reproduced in Rabbiting On. Save the digital photos at 300dpi, and at least postcard size. Make sure that your name, address, RWAF membership number and the rabbit’s names are on the CD.
If you send prints please stick a label on the back of each photo listing the information above.

Send your photos/CDs and entry fees to:

Bunnies of the Year 2017,
RWAF,
Enigma House,
Culmhead Business Park,
Taunton,
Somerset,
TA3 7DY

Please make cheques payable to: The Rabbit Welfare Fund.
Regrettably we are unable to return photos or CDs, so please do not send your only copies.

You can also enter your photos by emailing them. Firstly please ensure you visit
https://shop.rabbitwelfare.co.uk/product/bunnies-of-the-year-competition/ to pay the entry fee for each of your photos, then visit https://rabbitwelfare.co.uk/about-the-rwaf/photo-submissions/ to upload your photos. You must include your name, address, RWAF membership number, the rabbits’ names, category entered and the payment transaction number the shop will generate when you pay for the entries.

The closing date for entries is the 30th December 2017 and the winners will be announced in the Spring 2018 Rabbiting On.

All of the photos entered that aren’t fortunate enough to be amongst the winners will be considered for our Pawprints, It’s my Bunny and Star Bunny pages in future issues of Rabbiting On. They may also be used to illustrate features in Rabbiting On, used RWAF literature and may even be a future Rabbiting On front cover star.

We would like to extend our thanks to the companies who have generously donated prizes for this competition.
Prizes will be posted out from the companies direct to the winners and can only be posted to UK postal addresses.
The RWAF and prize donators reserve the right to offer substitute prizes without prior notice.