Winter 2019 Campaign Update

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

Animal Encounters, Petting Farms

This animal encounters photo greatly concerned us

Back in August we were sent this photo and asked for advice. Where do we start pointing out the problems with this set up? And why do these organisers not know better than this? If you go to any attractions or animal encounters please don’t turn a blind eye if you see something you are not happy about. Remember that rabbits kept on display for the general public should be setting good examples of welfare standards, housing and diet. Anyone using animals on display should be licenced by the relevant Local Authority. The licence means they are subject to animal welfare standards. Be polite, but speak up if you see something that needs to be improved, please don’t passively accept low welfare standards. Standards do need to be raised, and owners need to be educated, but breeding baby rabbits and allowing them to be inappropriately handled is not the way to do it. Setting good examples of companionship, housing, and diet are the way to do it. So please be rabbit ambassadors.

If you see something that concerns you:

• Bring it to the attention of the staff at the time

• When you get home, follow it up in writing with them, and include the Local Authority that issue their licence, and if you have taken any photos include them

• Sometimes they reply quicker via Facebook or Twitter so that is worth bearing in mind.

Some Local Authorities won’t follow up on complaints of poor welfare and will refer you to the RSPCA to make a complaint with them.

If you need help, then contact us and our Welfare Officer can assist with the referral on your behalf. In order for us to assist we will need details of the time and place, and photos if you have them.

Rabbit play date cancelled

We were alerted to a ‘rabbit play date’ that was to take place in a feed store, encouraging rabbit owners to take their rabbits along to play in grass pens. Obviously we were concerned about this, not only for the risk of RVHD2, and other diseases, but also because it would be stressful and potentially harmful to the rabbits involved. Thanks to everyone who contacted the feed merchant and shared their concerns, as the event was cancelled, and they plan to do something more welfare orientated in the near future.

Pet CV builder

We know it can be hard to find pet-friendly rental accommodation.

We hear frequently of people having to give up their much loved pets when moving into rented property. This is very distressing for owners and can also place huge burdens on animal rescues who very often have to try and accommodate pets when owners are faced with landlord ultimatums, time constraints for rehoming of their pets or the real possibility of having to give up their rental home.

The good news is things are gradually improving and one of the big reasons for this is the introduction of Pet CV’s.

A Pet CV can be a great help in providing Landlords with added information and the reassurance they need that you and your rabbits will make great tenants.

The RWAF has put together a brief thoughts list of areas for you to consider, together with an online Pet CV Builder which can either be completed online, or exported to PDF, or a download version which can be printed and completed manually.

If you rent and need help with finding somewhere that will accept your rabbits please check out our website: https://rabbitwelfare.co.uk/home-sweet-home-renting-with-your-rabbit/

Our huge thanks to our lovely volunteer Elaine Line for putting this together for us.

Media

The Sun’s feature

We had a busy month in September!

The Royal Veterinary College (RVC) study in to morbidity of rabbits generated a lot of media interest, and we were interviewed for The Sun and The Guardian, appearing in print and via their on line versions. It is always brilliant when the main stream press pick up on rabbit news items because they have such a huge reach. Thankfully, in both cases some really good messages were communicated. We hope to have further information from the study in the next issue of Rabbiting On.

Social Media

Our new Bunny Buyers Beware graphic

We are using a PR company to post regular care and welfare advice and to grow our social media audiences so that we can get the messages out to as many people as possible. Please help us by sharing our messages if you can. This is a big investment for us, but we are really pleased with the results and the interactions so far, of course the cute bunny pictures are popular but so are the more hard hitting graphics that they have produced for us.

Ranitidine recall

We are aware of the recall of Ranitidine. RWAF Veterinary Adviser, Richard Saunders had this to say:
“At this point it’s difficult to see exactly how long and how completely the Ranitidine recall will go on for and consist of. We obviously hope that stocks will continue to be available for our patients in both the short and long term, as it is a very useful therapeutic agent. We would suggest maintaining sensible stocks, without panic buying and stockpiling, and we will continue to monitor the situation”.

First Gold Rabbit Friendly Vet in Wales

We have 14 practices now listed as Gold Standard

Congratulations to Tariq at Valley Vets for being the first Gold Rabbit Friendly vet in Wales (see Round Up for more information). We now have over 160 vet practices listed on our website, and 14 of them are Gold. A general note – It is worth you checking if the veterinary practice that you use does their own out of hours or not. Generally speaking if it is a veterinary hospital the animals will stay there over night and will be monitored. However, some practices send their patients to another veterinary practice or ‘out of hours’ provider and so the practice that you usually use might not have your rabbit overnight. This means they will be monitored, but it also means they will have had a journey to the out of hours practice, so make sure you know what your veterinary practice does.

RWAF Representatives

We were recently contacted by a supporter who was concerned about the welfare of a rabbit she had obtained from a breeder. Whilst we are in the process of giving advice she mentioned that she had a phone call from an RWAF representative and that we had visited the premises and everything was okay.

We wouldn’t make a phone call like this, so if you are told this please don’t take it at face value. Unless you receive an e-mail from one of our @rabbitwelfare.co.uk addresses please assume that it is not from RWAF. We are still in the process of investigating this breeder and Mark, our Welfare Officer will update us next time.

Other projects

We are working on several other projects behind the scenes that we can’t wait to share with you, and hope that we can very soon. Watch this space for more information…

Erin – a Cautionary Tale

We are often asked about neutering and if it is worth paying a bit more for a rabbit friendly vet, or driving a bit further to get to one. Our answer is always yes. If your rabbit is ill, with something like a dental spur and you need to have dental surgery quickly, you don’t want to be ringing around for a savvy rabbit vet then, you already want a savvy rabbit vet on speed dial, know how to get there, where to park, and what to expect.

So we thought we would share this story and then you can make up your own mind!

Erin and Vanilla

“I use a rabbit savvy vet, travel a bit further to see her, but I don’t think she is more expensive than other vets. I know that my rabbits have the best care possible with her, with her nursing staff, and with her facilities, which include an ‘exotic’ ward so there are no barking dogs nearby.

About 11 years ago and before we used this vet, I took a mum and litter of babies into the rescue. I adopted 3 of the babies myself, 2 males and 1 female, Eric, Ernie and Erin, and took them all to a local vet to be neutered when they were 16 weeks old.

That morning I made sure they had eaten. I had everything ready for them at home to spend a few days indoors so that I could keep an eye on them, keep them warm, and make sure they were all eating. I drove them the short distance to the vet together in their carrier, with a picnic of their favourite foods for when they came round from the anaesthetic. I did everything right.

Ernie died very shortly after I dropped them off, before they even started to do any pre-meds with him. When I asked what had happened I was told there was a very noisy dog in the kennel next to him. So at 16 weeks old, and to the best of my knowledge fit and well, he died of stress shortly after he arrived. This was preventable, and something that still horrifies me now.

As far as I was aware however for Eric and Erin things went much more smoothly and I picked them up and brought them home. Kept them indoors, checked their wounds, made sure they were eating, took them for their post op checks and then returned them to their lovely shed and run outside a few days later.

Erin

Erin used to nest throughout her life, she was often carrying hay around in her mouth, but I took her to be sapayed, I saw the spay wound so I didn’t take too much notice.

When Erin was 11 years old I found her hiding in her enclosure; she didn’t approach me for food as she usually would, and refused the dandelion I placed in front of her. Oh dear. Obviously we rushed straight to our rabbit savvy vet, there was a lot of blood in her wee, so we started on antibiotics, pain medication, gut motility drugs and syringe feeding. I brought her and Vanilla (her new companion, as Eric had very sadly passed away the previous year) inside and administered the medications at regular intervals, provided her with all her favourite foods and it was a huge relief when she was eating and pooing normally again, and well enough to return to her enclosure. It was puzzling what might have caused this but at 11 she was becoming an old bunny. A few weeks later it happened again, but she had to be admitted, and after 2 days was not really improving. You know when you get a phone call at 7am from the night vet that it is not good news, and despite everyone’s valiant efforts she was struggling to breathe. I had to let her go.

Later that day, when our usual rabbit savvy vet was finished consulting she called me and we agreed that we would do a PM to see what had gone wrong for Erin. This is always a difficult decision, but I have found that it usually gives me peace of mind as there is nothing I could have done to prevent it. When my rabbit savvy vet called she told me that Erin had tumours and that they had spread to her lungs. The tumours were most likely because she was not spayed and the uterus had developed a suspected adenocarcinoma, and that had explained the blood in her wee previously and also her difficulty in breathing. “Hang on, what do you mean not spayed, she is spayed” I said. The rabbit savvy vet repeated her findings, she was not spayed!.

I remember taking them to be neutered, I remember Ernie dying, I remember nursing her spay wound so how could she not be spayed?

When we got the history from the practice that ‘spayed’ Erin, sure enough they could not find her uterus, decided she was a hermaphrodite, so stitched her up and sent her home. I presume because they had already had to break bad news to me about Ernie that they did not want to address the fact that they she had not been spayed, but I was totally unaware of this until I saw the history 11 years later. I can not explain how shocked I was, and in all honesty still am.

The uterus of a 16 week female will look quite different from that of a 6 month female, and had I known that she was not spayed I would have had this checked when she was older.

Erin lived a good long life and would have died of something, but she died of a disease that more than likely could have been prevented.

The vet that operated is no longer at that practice and so I am not going to raise it with them, I think this letter is more useful.

So, when I am asked, is it worth paying extra for a rabbit savvy vet, or travelling a bit further, the answer is always yes. And this is a really good example of why.”