Creating better tomorrows for all pet rabbits

The Capone Campaign

The biggest threat to rabbit welfare is the soaring number of online, unlicensed breeders. They aren’t regulated, there’s no legislation or welfare checks and they don’t offer care advice to customers. The Capone Campaign was launched to tackle this problem.

Our bespoke software analyses thousands of Rabbit For Sale ads to identify unlicensed pet traders. Our Welfare Officers then pass the evidence on to the local authority. We’ve found over 500 unlicensed sellers and the number keeps rising.

The Capone Campaign aims to:

  1. Identify unlicensed sellers where welfare standards are potentially poor.
  2. Educate local authorities on the problems unlicensed sellers cause.
  3. Make it difficult for traders so it’s less appealing and less rewarding.
  4. Uncover poor welfare standards and report them to the RSPCA for action.
  5. Record responses and actions taken, or lack of response from local authorities.
  6. Gather evidence and build a foundation to lobby for better welfare or better resources in local authorities.
The Capone Campaign
The Capone Campaign

As a result of our campaign, lots of online sellers have been licensed by their local authorities. We’ve set a precedent, as this is the first time it’s happened in England and we’re delighted. The retailers must now follow set conditions to improve welfare, and undergo annual inspections. It’s a great warning to back yard breeders.

We hope these examples are the new benchmark for local authorities to step up and take action. Where this doesn’t happen, we’re keen to start conversations with DEFRA to tighten the guidelines. For us, a change in the law to regulate online sellers can’t happen quick enough. Until then, we’ll continue to work with the tools we have. The more sellers that are uncovered and licensed, the more it helps in the battle for positive animal welfare.

Why Capone?

Besides cute pictures of Bugsy Malone Bunnies, there’s a point to the name of our campaign. Al Capone, the American gangster was surprisingly caught for tax evasion, rather than his criminal activities. We know the law isn’t always in our favour in terms of protecting rabbits so, like those on the trail of Al Capone, we’re looking at every angle to make it as difficult as possible for backyard breeders to operate. That means using any parts of the law we can, to get results.

Let’s stop online breeder sales

Right now, in England and Wales there’s no legislation to stop or licence breeding rabbits and other small mammals. We recommend you complain to local authorities about internet sellers, especially if you’re concerned about animal welfare. To increase impact, avoid stating they’re breeding, simply report that they’re selling animals online. Selling pet animals is regulated under Pet Shop Licensing legislation, and local authorities are expected to investigate unlicensed pet sales.

To make it easy, we’ve created a template for you to use. You’ll need to delete sections and words that aren’t relevant, so it’s clear what complaint you’re making.

For Northern Ireland

Here, animal welfare issues are licensed and enforced centrally under the Welfare of Animals Act 2011. The Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs takes care of these issues and that’s where you should send your complaint form if you live in Northern Ireland.

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