Welcome to another Campaign Update, keeping you informed of our constant fight to make things better for bunnies.
Help rabbit rescues by adopting, volunteering, fundraising or spreading the word.
We’ve been talking about a rabbit welfare crisis for years, with so many rabbits being abandoned, and rescues bursting at the seams. Sadly, in the post-lockdown world, things have become even worse.
In March 2021, The Vet Times reported that sales of rabbits surpassed those of cats and dogs during the lockdown, an increase of 212% on the previous year.
However, misinformation and misunderstanding over the complexity and cost of rabbit care is one of the primary reasons why thousands of rabbits are abandoned every year.
The Bristol Rabbit Rescue had a total of 34 requests to surrender rabbits in October 2021, in comparison to 13 requests the previous October, showing a percentage increase of 262% unwanted pet rabbits.
The vast increase in rabbit sales has been amplified by a surge in new rabbit breeders. The Rabbit Residence Rescue has identified 66 new rabbit breeders, predominantly offering lops and mini lops, since the first lockdown in March 2020 to October 2021, in comparison to 27 new traders between March 2018 to October 2019. This shows an increase of 244% new rabbit breeders since the first lockdown.
Lea Facey of Rabbit Residence Rescue said, “This data is just a drop in the ocean. If the same pattern was replicated across all pet trading platforms and more breeds, we could be looking at a massive and still unregulated market. These figures are very worrying and will only get We’ve been talking about a rabbit welfare crisis for years, with so many rabbits being abandoned, and rescues bursting at the seams. Sadly, in the post-lockdown world, things have become even worse.
The rise of unregulated rabbit breeders is posing a great concern to the RWAF, the Rabbit Awareness Action Group and rescue centres nationwide, especially as inadequate housing continues to be sold and incorrect care advice continues to be given.
“There is a misconception that rescue rabbits are ‘damaged goods’, and so new owners prefer to get new rabbits from shops and breeders, but this simply isn’t true”, says Rae Walters, Director of the RWAF. “Rescue rabbits are not damaged, most have been simply abandoned and are in need of a loving home. The issue is the constant supply on demand for ‘new rabbits’, so rabbit breeders will continue to breed rabbits like it’s going out of fashion, intensifying the problem just to line their pockets, with zero concern for animal welfare.”
The RWAF’s Adopt Don’t Shop campaign urges anyone who is serious about wanting pet rabbits to ‘adopt don’t shop’ to help prevent this supply on demand, resolve overcrowding in rescue centres, and give abandoned rabbits a second chance of a happy life. They also implore people to do their research before deciding to become an owner of rabbits, to make sure they understand the five fundamental rabbit welfare requirements and ensure these very special pets are not only right for them, but they themselves are right for rabbits too.
So what can we all do to help?
Adopt a bunny
Every bunny needs some bunny to love. If you have a single rabbit, then think about adopting another. Sociability is a huge part of a rabbit’s make-up so it’s vital that they live with a bonded partner.
Come to the rescue
You can support your local rescue by offering to help them out. You can volunteer your time to help clean out enclosures, do vet runs, or even organise fundraising events, or you can donate hay or food.
Spread the word
Please share one of our posters or messages on whatever social media channels you use and help us educate lots of other rabbit owners about good diet, housing, companionship and health. Sadly, many owners don’t know what their rabbits need to live happy and healthy lives, so we need to reach as many people as possible.
We have posters you can download from our website, so why not print one and ask a local pet shop, garden centre, school, or place of work to put it up?
Good practice code for the welfare of pet rabbits
Hopefully you are already aware that in June 2021 we helped to launch the ‘Good practice code for the welfare of pet rabbits’.
You can read more detail and see a copy of the codes, and the accompanying infographic, on our website, under Campaigns/Codes of practice for companion rabbits.
The codes of practice are the agreed guidelines on how pet owners can meet these welfare needs so it’s really important that owners, pet shops, and anybody involved with rabbits as pets is aware of them. Please share them widely!
With the summer holidays coming up, many of you might be visiting farm parks which have rabbits as an attraction. As we know, these places do not always meet current welfare standards. If you visit somewhere that you think could be improved, then please let them know your concerns, and feel free to direct them to our website. We are always happy to offer advice to such places, and have had some very positive results working with them to improve the lives of the rabbits in their care and provide a better example for visitors.
A Hutch is Not Enough petition
We’ve reached over 100,000 signatures!
This really helps to show the level of support that there is for the good practice codes (more opposite). Thanks to everyone that signed and shared to help us reach our goal!