There are so many considerations. Rescue work can be an emotional roller-coaster of highs and lows – our helpful thoughts list may help you decide if running a rescue is right for you.
Time & Emotional Support
It’s important to understand that the Rescue is “YOU” – even with reliable volunteers the “buck” really does stop with you.
There may be times when you feel completely alone with the burden that running a rescue can bring and emotional burnout is sadly common in rescue work.
It really is essential you have the time to devote and support from family and volunteers as it can be easy to underestimate the impact rescue work can have on your life quality and all those around you. Even when the best outcome comes along of re-homing a rabbit to a new home, there is a wealth of work involved such as home checks and support for the new owners which very often goes on beyond the initial rabbit re-homing.
Consider a disaster recovery plan – what would happen if you were suddenly taken away from the rescue for any reason – do you have family or reliable volunteers you could call on for help to feed and medicate in your absence.
The requirement to multi-skill whilst keeping emotions in check in highly challenging situations can be very hard and emotially draining. Take some time to think about areas you may need extra help with, are you comfortable training
volunteers? Can you delegate tasks easily? Can you give direction? Can you give emotional support to those giving up their pets? Can you make the decision to put an animal to sleep if needed? Can you be non-judgemental?
When finances are tight, can you choose between financing expensive treatments for an animal with a chronic condition or offering a rescue place to a healthy one?
Are you going to provide additional services such as bonding, boarding, education?
A well thought-out plan will help to increase the chance of success for your rescue. In offering these services it will be necessary to have strong administrative skills or someone to do this for you in creating supportive documents such as boarding contracts, general education and advice literature.
Do you have access to a neutral bonding area and time for additional ongoing support which is very often required for both successful and unsuccessful rabbit bondings.
Finances and funding require thought and planning.
The list of expenditure is endless. Essentials such as adequate welfare housing, food, regular vaccinations & general veterinary care, Insurances are just the starting point of escalating costs involved in running a rescue.
Investigate how you might manage fundraising – it’s unlikely you will have the time to do this yourself – are you able to have a responsible, trustworthy person to manage this on your behalf.
Local Planning Permissions may apply depending on your rescue location. Also keep in mind that neighbour disputes & complaints can arise from increased car parking, aviary sheds/hutches. Local Authorities have power of closure. Unfortunately should this happen the animals can then become an increased pressure in attempting to find alternative rescue placements.
Investigate your nearest rabbit savvy vets. Arrange a visit to establish their services. It may be worth researching nearest specialist referral vets in case more challenging vet care is needed. Talk to your vets about their payment policy – is it pay as you go or are account facilities available.
With increasing outbreaks of rabbit viruses it will be essential to have a biohazard plan in place. Consider how you would implement this if the worst happens.
What is your rescue policy regarding boarding rabbits and quarantine areas for new arrival rescue rabbits?
A waste management licence is normally required for regular tipping of rabbit waste and you may need to invest in a dedicated laundry area for washing of bedding for special needs rabbits and reduce cross contamination of disease.
Know your Limits
You will need the emotional strength to be able say “No room at the Rabbit Inn”
It’s very hard to try not to see yourself as the only solution and continue to take in rabbits regardless of the impact on your finances and resources as well as the impact on rabbits already in your care. Do not wait until you are in a crisis situation to ask for help.
Utilise social community to get to know other rescues where you can share information and offer each other support. Social communities can also be a great way of keeping up to date with news, changes to legislation, veterinary/medical information.
Rescues are always in need of dedicated volunteers – why not try some regular volunteer work, it’s a great way to learn about all the highs and lows of rescue work and how much of a committed lifestyle is required in running a rescue. You wlll also have access to a wealth of experience and guidance to help you in your decision of running a rescue.
Although the RWAF is not a rescue, at times we are made aware of a situation that we cannot ignore. Last month we were involved in such a situation in Scotland which involved the closure of a large commercial breeding facility. We worked closely with all involved and were able to get the remaining 37 rabbits to safety. They were mainly mums and babies.
As always a successful rescue relies on team work, so a huge thanks goes to the brilliant team at the Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies, Hospital for Small Animals exotics team. Special thanks going to vets Jenna Richardson and Kevin Eatwell for allowing us to fill their wards and for health checking all of the rabbits and starting them off on a vaccination and neutering programme.
Huge thanks also to the incredible volunteers we rallied locally who offered short term foster homes to acclimatise the rabbits to love and comfort and to the rescues that have offered them spaces, in particular our friends at Fairly Beloved Rabbit Care who took a whopping 13 rabbits for us.
RWAF are funding all the health checking, treatments, vaccinating and neutering cost of all the rabbits and so we are asking for your help!
If you can donate anything at all to help with these costs we would be very grateful.
Please tick for Gift Aid too if you are eligible. Both fundraising sites will process it and it adds a further 25% to your donation from HMRC at no extra cost to you
We expect this rescue to cost into the thousands, however if there are any surplus funds from this fundraiser over and above our costs, we will add it to our campaign funds which you can read about here https://rabbitwelfare.co.uk/campaigns/
Welcome to another Campaign Update, keeping you informed of our constant fight to make things better for bunnies.
Richard’s new qualification
As if Richard Saunders was not already fantastic enough, he has added another qualification to his name. He now has the European College of Zoological Medicine, Diploma Specialist in Zoo Health Management to add to his accolades. This gives him more letters after his name, and he is now on the Scientific Committee for EBVS.
RVHD2 HIPRA webinar
Richard has recorded a webinar with HIPRA, who are the manufacturer of Eravac, on the ever-popular subject of RVHD2. As soon as it is available we will share the link to it on social media, so keep your eyes peeled.
We now have over 110 rabbit friendly vets on the rabbit friendly vet list! This is free to access to anyone via our website. Due to huge demand we have had to close applications for the rest of 2018, because we have such a backlog to get through, but we will be opening it up again in the New Year. This is great news as it shows that practices are keen to be considered rabbit savvy, and realise the rising status of rabbits in the UK. Anyone who is looking for a rabbit savvy vet can find our list here: https://rabbitwelfare.co.uk/rabbit-care-advice/rabbit-friendly-vets/rabbit-friendly-vet-list/
Save the dates
We are finalising the conference dates for 2019 so you might like to save these dates: 1st June– Non clinical day (owners, rescue workers) in Birmingham. 1st June– Clinical͚Rabbit Essentials͛ day, in Birmingham. This is for vets and vet nurses. It is lecture based and will cover subjects that we think are essential for every small animal practice. 22nd June– Advanced Rabbit Practice, at The Royal Veterinary College, Hawkshead. Lecture based, but covering more advanced rabbit care and investigation using the fantastic team at the RVC. 23rd June– Rabbit Interactive Roadshow – 2 x 3-hour workshops covering dentistry and airway management, also at the RVC, with the fabulous Craig Hunt. Small group so be sure to book early. 1st December– Rabbit Interactive Roadshow – 2 x 3-hour workshops covering dentistry and airway management, in Newcastle Upon Tyne, using the awesome Kevin Eatwell. Small group so book early to grab a place.
Full details will follow shortly. Please keep an eye on our website, and social media, or sign up to our First Alert service. You will be able to book via our shop website shortly.
Consultations and new legislation
Despite the amount of work and debate that Brexit has generated, there is still some progress with animal welfare legislation. There have been consultations for the UK for animal sentience and for Scotland with regards to breeding and licencing. This is obviously an area we are very keen on, given our Capone Campaign work, and something we can respond to with a lot of confidence. There have also been consultations on licencing of pet shops, riding schools etc., and on the 1st October 2018 the English government launched new regulations for the sale of puppies in the UK. This is great news, and we will be looking into the possibility of this legislation applying to rabbits also.
BBC Radio Shropshire – The rabbit and guinea pig debate
BBC Radio Shropshire phoned the helpline in October after an on air discussion between listeners who were discussing keeping rabbits and guinea pigs together, which caused some contention. We were invited on the next day to put the record straight, which is exactly what Richard did!
For interest, this is our official stance:
We are often asked about keeping rabbits and guinea pigs together. This is not advisable for the following reasons: ͞Bordetella bronchiseptica is a bacterial infection of the upper respiratory tract of a number of species, including dogs, rabbits and guinea pigs, related to B pertussis, which causes whooping cough in humans. It is often described as commensal in rabbits (i.e. found in this species without causing harm), however, it can be a primary disease-causing organism, and can complicate other infections such as Pasteurella. It can, though, be fatal in guinea pigs, and so keeping them in the same airspace as rabbits is not advised.
͞Rabbits and guinea pigs have different dietary requirements, particularly guinea pigs’ need for Vitamin C. ͞Rabbits and guinea pigs are not the same species, and cannot respond appropriately to one another’s behaviours. This may result in inadequate social behaviours, up to and including severe bullying. ͞
The main reason these species used to be kept together was for companionship without the risk of pregnancy. With improvements in anaesthetic safety and more widespread neutering of both species, this is less of a problem now. Whilst we would not recommend putting them together in the first place in this day and age, we would not advocate splitting up a stable sole rabbit:sole guinea pig pairing͟.
New vaccination poster
We are still hearing of owners who do not know about RVHD2 and the need for a second vaccine. Feedback suggested that our vaccination poster did not get the message across so we have a new vaccination poster which we hope will be more effective. If you are on social media please share. You can find it on our own social media pages and website. Just to clarify, this is our advice on vaccinations: ͞You will need to give your rabbits two vaccines every year to protect them. The most common are Nobivac (protects against myxomatosis and RVHD1) and Filavac (protects against RVHD1&2), or Eravac (protects against RVHD2)͟.
A full size version of the poster is on our Campaign page, under Resources
Latest on RVHD2
In addition to the confusion over the vaccines there seem to be rumours surfacing about more diseases. Just to put the record straight we have released this statement:
͞”Here at the RWAF we are aware of 3 significant fatal viral diseases of rabbits in the UK. ͞
Myxomatosis (covered by the vaccine Nobivac Myxo-RHD); Rabbit Viral Haemorrhagic Disease 1 (covered by Nobivac Myxo-RHD), and Rabbit Viral Haemorrhagic Disease 2 (covered by the vaccines Filavac KC and V, or Eravac).
͞We are not aware of any further versions of RVHD present in the UK, although the variant K5 has been discovered in Asia and Australasia. ͞
We are not aware of any viral infections that are acutely fatal to rabbits and rodents recently arriving in the UK. ͞
If anyone has documentary evidence of any exotic diseases arriving in the UK in future please inform us and the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA)͟.
Myxomatosis in hares
Just as we were going to press there was an article in the news about a hare being diagnosed with myxomatosis in the UK.
Here at the RWAF we have been asked, over the past week or so, about myxomatosis in native wild brown hares in the UK. It’s important to be aware that this information is subject to change as the investigating continues, but is correct at time of posting.
Sporadic cases have been reported in the past, of suspected or confirmed myxomatosis in hares, including one which was written up in the veterinary press in 2014. However, this appears to be different in that multiple cases, from a wide geographical spread, are being reported to Dr Diana Bell, University of East Anglia and, whilst some have obvious external symptoms of myxomatosis, other dead hares look fine/in good condition or are seen dying with unusual neurological symptoms including an inability to move and seizures. A number of possible causes are being explored, including a change in virulence of myxomatosis virus, infection with Rabbit Viral Haemorrhagic Disease 2 (RVHD2), or European Brown Hare Syndrome, individually or as co-infections, and it’s possible that other factors are involved.
What would really help the ongoing study into the large scale deaths of this iconic species would be for any members of the public finding a dead or ill hare to contact Dr Bell on: firstname.lastname@example.org. Please try and keep the body refrigerated whilst contacting Diana to arrange for a full post-mortem analysis.
Filming for RWAF YouTube channel
We are aware that our YouTube channel is in need of more content so we have recently spent the day with the lovely people at Vets4Pets Emmerson Green, Bristol, to film standard procedures and best practice. We hope that this will be accessible and useful to a wide range of people. Huge thanks to Sylvie Bolioli for giving up her time to do this
for us. We hope to have a lot of content for vets and owners in 2019. Again, watch this space for an update.
New RWAF Team member!
We are excited to announce the newest member of the RWAF Team – please welcome baby Eden. Emma (Boyd) gave birth to gorgeous little Eden on 15th September. It will be no surprise to read that Eden is already a rabbit fan and has a good collection of rabbit themed clothes and toys. Emma is on maternity leave until the New Year but she will soon be back in the swing of things and working alongside Rae to organise the CPD for 2019. If Eden is anything like her amazing mum then animal welfare is going to have a fantastic new advocate.
With the heat wave continuing, please remember any outdoor rabbits. Here is some advice from Richard Saunders BSc(Hons) BVSc MSB CBiol DZooMed (Mammalian) MRCVS
RCVS Specialist in Zoo And Wild Animal Medicine
Offer a water bowl so that they can get a better drink; they will drink more efficiently and faster this way, and that’s important in the heat. Cool water will help to cool them down a bit. Don’t chill the water, but make sure it’s not boiling in the sun
Do not give your rabbits to ice cubes as they can cause problems with their digestion system.
Sun tan lotion is a no. They are likely to lick it off, and we have yet to see a rabbit with ear skin cancer. Instead, make sure you offer them plenty of shade, but if you are draping something over a run, make sure the air can circulate. Use of a battery operated fan on runs or enclosures can help.
Frozen water bottles or cool pods are helpful. ,
No need to change diet at all just, to stick to usual diet and make sure they drink lots by following the tips above.
Access to a safe shady exercise area 24/7 is even more important in this heat as they will want to exercise when it cools down am and pm.
If you’re on Pinterest please help discourage people from posting pins of trancing. We’ve been notified today that there’s a growing number of pins there from people who genuinely believe it’s okay which we as knowledgeable owners know it isn’t.
We’ve posted our Trancing posters on our own Health and Welfare board today with very clear messages, so if you’re a Pinteresteer (just made that up, you can probably tell!) please share our pins to help people understand that it’s a major welfare concern.
Please everybody share this poster and message in your emails and on social media, and on any rabbit or pet group you might be on.
Rabbits need vaccination every year to protect them against RVHD2 as well as against Myxomatosis and RVHD1. Unfortunately that can’t be given in one jab. There are two. For Myxi/RVHD1 they need the Nobivac combined jab and then for RVHD2 there is a choice of either Filavac or Eravac. There should be at least 2 weeks between the jabs.
Following on with more hot weather advice are all your rabbits’ vaccinations up to date? There will be biting insects everywhere and particularly places where there is any standing water at all. These are the main vectors of myxomatosis and they will also carry deadly RVHD virus from infected rabbits. All reports that we have had we have passed on to the owner of this map http://rhd2map.buntools.org.uk/index.php?&p=cases and she does updated regularly. You’ll see that there are places that appear not to have any outbreaks. Don’t be complacent if you live in those areas. It doesn’t mean the disease isn’t there, it only means that nobody has reported sudden deaths. This horrible disease has crossed the Atlantic, nowhere in the UK is safe. The best available protection is vaccination with Filavac or Eravac vaccine in addition to your rabbits’ usual Nobivac. Our latest advice is here and it contains a link to the very recently updated further information https://rabbitwelfare.co.uk/rabbit-health/rabbit-vhd/
Some of you have contacted us when you’ve had messages from BT MyDonate to say that our account was closing down. Don’t worry we are still here. As you will know we changed our charitable status fairly recently and we’ve been working hard behind the scenes to update everything with the websites that gather donations for us. While that was an easy process with some websites, it hasn’t always been the case, and the system at MyDonate means that they had to close our existing account and open a new one. Because of data protection MyDonate was not able to give us contact details of all donors and so we weren’t able to inform everybody in advance. Our apologies for not warning you, we simply were not able to.
Our new account can be found here https://mydonate.bt.com/charities/rabbitwelfarefundcio Don’t be confused by the CIO following our name. This was necessary for the transition period between the two accounts but MyDonate assures us those initials will soon be removed. They stand for our new charitable status, Charitable Incorporated Organisation.
We were contracted recently by some rabbit owners from Australia. You may know that myxomatosis is rife in Australia and also that there are huge restrictions in some Australian states on keeping rabbits as pets because the Australian government as a whole considers rabbits to be such a pest.
Whatever the rights and wrongs of that view the fact remains that pet owners desperately need vaccination to protect their beloved rabbits. We’ve asked you in the past to sign petitions to encourage the Australian government to allow pets myxomatosis vaccine and we’re asking you again now. They have compiled this page to describe the situation and it contains a link to the petition https://www.myxo-vaccine-aus.org We are asking you to sign and to share with family and friends.
It’s with a smile that we introduce the next topic. Our Amazon Smile account. This is a way of fundraising new to the UK although it’s been in operation in the USA for some time. If you shop with Amazon, please register with Amazon Smile and choose the Rabbit Welfare Fund as your charity. Buying from Amazon then won’t cost you anything more but if you always shop at smile.amazon.co.uk we will receive money from Amazon and its sellers. Register now at https://smile.amazon.co.uk
We can safely say that our recent annual conference was a rip-roaring success. Once again it covered 2 days. On the first day there were parallel streams for veterinary professionals in one stream and owners and rescues in the other. On the second day everybody came together for a behaviour and welfare day, and that was a resounding success. The sales of clickers on Amazon must have gone through the roof! We’ve already shared one video on social media but here’s a link to another showing rabbits’ early target training https://youtu.be/qU_ZiohPo9c If you have a Facebook account you’ll be able to see what this can progress to https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=2132775030345059&id=1601736846782216&fs=5&focus_composer=0&ref=page_internal
Of course this kind of operant training wasn’t the only thing covered on the day but it’s certainly grabbed owners’ attention and demonstrated how very useful it can be to train your rabbits to perform specific tasks.
As always if you have moved house and forgotten to tell us please email email@example.com with your up to date details.
The next issue of Rabbiting On is well on its way to being completed so if you want to receive it on time we need to have your address. Please also ensure that your subscription is up to date. If you subscribed online it should automatically renew.
As usual you can expect the new issue to land on your doormat in early August.
And finally just in case anybody missed it we want to congratulate our wonderful Specialist Veterinary Adviser Richard Saunders once again for having been awarded the CEVA Vet Of The Year. As you can imagine we all had smiles splitting our faces when he won https://rabbitwelfare.co.uk/richard-recognised-for-welfare-work/ How richly this was deserved. All UK rabbit owners owe Richard a huge debt of thanks for his amazing work getting RVHD2 vaccine into the UK and his ongoing commitment to rabbit welfare.
As rabbit owners know a binky is a rabbit’s happy dance. In fact it demonstrates joy in a-bun-dance. Rabbits will shake their heads, jump in the air, kick out, twist, even turn around in mid air, all to show joy and happiness. They need plenty of space all the time but especially so that they can binky.
To celebrate Binky Day 2018 we’ve made this video using clips and photos submitted by owners of some very happy bunnies. https://youtu.be/w_3vM_tA57Q
We hope you enjoy it and that you’ll send us your clips and videos next spring for next year’s Binky Day video.
Welcome to another Campaign Update, keeping you informed of our constant fight to make things better for bunnies.
Rabbits sold online via classified ads in the what they did UK: when, why, and how many?
What they did
When Vikki Neville started her internship at the RWAF, the team were keen to investigate the problem of rabbit rehoming. Elaine Line and Keith Hinde had been collecting data on rabbits advertised via online classified websites for some time, which not only allowed them to count the number of rabbits rehomed online but also gave them the opportunity to look at the reasons why people were doing so. They trawled through the data, picking out the reasons the owner gave for rehoming their rabbit, and then looked for trends in the data that might hint at the real reasons for rehoming. They’ve just published their findings in the Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science – a peer-reviewed journal co-sponsored by the Animals & Society Institute (ASI) and the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA).
How many rabbits were advertised online?
They found that 7,315 different adult rabbits were advertised on the website Preloved in 2016 alone. The average age of these rabbits was 14 months, and most were less than two years old. The average lifespan of a companion rabbit is four to thirteen years (depending on size), so these rabbits were very much in the first flush of youth.
What reasons did people give for selling their rabbit?
The main reason people gave for giving up their rabbit was that they didn’t have enough time to care for the rabbit (21%), closely followed by issues with housing such as moving home (16%) and a change of circumstances (14%). In 10% of cases, the caregiver said that their child was no longer interested in the rabbit.
What does the data suggest is the real cause of rehoming?
When they looked at the number of rabbits advertised for free in each season, they noticed a significant spike in the number of rabbits advertised during the winter. There are several possible reasons for this. Firstly, most companion rabbits are housed outdoors, so in winter when the weather is cold and rainy, cleaning is likely to become an extra onerous task for most caregivers. Inclement winter weather could also influence how often caregivers interact with their rabbit; perhaps caregivers had great fun sitting in the garden with the rabbit in summer, but not so much in winter. It’s also possible that interest in the rabbit wanes after Christmas when children receive toys that they find more interesting than the rabbit.
Were there any findings that aren’t depressing?
Yes! They found that the total number of rabbits advertised online had decreased over the last few years. In September 2013, a voluntary scheme was launched in which advertisements on several UK classified websites, including those investigated in this study, which contravened the Pet Advertising Advisory Group (PAAG) Minimum Standards were removed from the websites. So, it seems like this scheme has worked to reduce the number of advertisements. Of course, it’s possible that people are rehoming their rabbits through other websites that aren’t regulated or via other means.
It seems like many people don’t know what they’re getting in to when they purchase a rabbit. That’s why the findings suggest that education is key. Giving potential caregivers information about the lifespan of rabbits and their substantial husbandry requirements, especially in winter, might deter the purchase of rabbits by caregivers unable or unwilling to care for them in the long-term. Working to prevent the impulse purchase of rabbits could also be useful in reducing the number of rabbits rehomed. Implementing legislation and shifting human behaviour is a slow process, but highlighting the problem rabbits face in an academic journal is an important first step towards getting people to pay attention to the issues.
RWAF note: It was a pleasure to have Vikki as an intern and we are delighted that her time with us was so useful. We wish her luck for the future and we know that she is going to have a brilliant future ahead of her. Ref: Neville, V., Hinde, K., Line., Elaine., Todd, R., Saunders, R, A. (2018). Rabbit relinquishment through online classified advertisements in the United Kingdom: when, why, and how many? Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science.
Time flies: are you taking the time to protect your rabbits from flystrike?
Flystrike is often a rapidly fatal disease, caused by flies, notably ‘Green Bottles’, laying eggs on damp areas of a rabbit’s skin and fur. When these eggs hatch, the maggots can eat the flesh of the rabbit causing severe pain, tissue damage and infections, and many affected rabbits will go on to die. You probably know that flies and their maggots are more normally associated with things that are already dead, and they are commonly to be found around our dustbins. However, if pet rabbits are not kept in clean conditions, or are unable to keep themselves clean, they too can be affected by flystrike. When it occurs, it is a serious welfare concern. Fortunately however, it can be prevented.
Researchers at the Small Animal Veterinary Surveillance Network (SAVSNET) based at the University of Liverpool have been investigating what puts rabbits at risk of flystrike. SAVSNET collects data from veterinary practices and labs across the UK to help further understand the diseases of our pet animals. SAVSNET worked with 389 veterinary practices right across the UK to collect information from over 30,000 rabbit consultations, identifying 205 rabbits that had been diagnosed with flystrike. It is well known that the flies that cause flystrike
are present at certain times of the year. SAVSNET has, for the first time, described the effect of seasonality on flystrike occurrence in rabbits. The research team found that flystrike was first recorded in the month of April, and almost 70% of cases occurred between June and August. In addition, for every 1°C rise in the average temperature, the risk of flystrike increased by 33%. Rabbits who were aged five years or more were almost four times as likely to have flystrike than younger rabbits, and unneutered does were over three times more likely to be affected than does that had been neutered.
Rachel Turner, a veterinary student who carried out the work as part of her veterinary undergraduate course said, “As well as confirming the seasonality of the disease and other risks, we can now use these results to warn owners when to check their rabbits for any signs of flystrike and treat their rabbits to prevent it.”
With 45% of the affected rabbits from the SAVSNET study either dying or being put to sleep, these risks are important for owners to keep in mind. There is lots of information available about measures to prevent flystrike, such as keeping rabbits and their environment clean, making sure rabbits do not become overweight (which reduces their ability to groom themselves), and most importantly, taking the time to check rabbits frequently for signs of dirty fur or flystrike. In addition, preventive treatments aimed at deterring flies from rabbit accommodation can be obtained from veterinary practices. If owners have any concerns, they are strongly advised to take their rabbit to see their vet immediately.
SAVSNET collects data from veterinary practices and laboratories so that researchers can help improve understanding about what makes pets ill. Find our more information at www.liverpool.ac.uk/savsnet and on Facebook and Twitter @savsnet.
Richard scoops prestigious award for dedication to rabbits
We are sure you will all join in saying huge congratulations to Richard. As our Specialist Veterinary Adviser, Dr Richard Saunders has been recognised as an Animal Welfare Hero and been awarded the prestigious title of the Chris Laurence Vet of the Year at the 2018 Ceva Animal Welfare Awards.
Richard was nominated for his dedication to improving pet rabbit welfare, in particular the huge amount of work involved in getting a new vaccine into the UK to protect all pet rabbits against an emerging deadly disease (RVHD2). We all owe Richard a huge debt of thanks for his success with the vaccine. So far it is estimated that in the region of 70,000 rabbits have been vaccinated thanks to Richard.
Richard’s day to day work educating vets and clients on the needs of rabbits as pets has been as vital as his work on the vaccine. Rabbits are amongst the most neglected of pets, and people like Richard who raise awareness of the needs of the species, have a huge impact on the welfare of these hugely misunderstood pets.
No more ‘stress rabbits’ at Heathrow
At the start of the Easter holidays we were horrified to see that there were rabbits in the terminals, being offered as stress relief for travellers. Obviously a busy airport is no place for rabbits. Not only will this have been stressful for them, but the biosecurity risk was a real concern. We contacted the company that provided the rabbits and the local authority responsible for the airport and they began to investigate. We do have a contact at Heathrow airport and we also contacted them and discussed our concerns. We also shared our concerns on social media, where of course Heathrow was inundated with messages pointing out the obvious; it was a bad idea. We’re not exactly sure what did the trick but within an hour Heathrow had confirmed that they would cancel the event. Thanks to Heathrow for acting so swiftly and to everyone who contacted them.
Rabbits in the news
Pet Rabbit Welfare Guidance – Scotland
The RWAF is happy to have been involved with working on Pet Rabbit Welfare
Guidance, now available on the Scottish Parliament website. This is a great step forward in giving formal structures to ensure that pet rabbits are properly looked after throughout their lives: http://www.gov.scot/Publications/2018/04/3112
The Healthy Pet Guide
We have had a very busy few weeks around Easter. Easter is
always a busy time for the media and we were really delighted to be invited on the BBC Radio 4’s ‘You and Yours’ to discuss the Easter Amnesty. We then did a live interview for BBC Radio Gloucester and then a pre-recorded session for BBC radio Somerset.
We also had a great two-page spread in the ‘Healthy Pet Guide’, which was inserted in the Mail on Sunday, so had great reach, and also a brilliant one page article in ‘Yours’ magazine.
As if that was not enough, during the Easter holidays we worked with our friends from Burgess Pet Care on the set of This Morning (thank you to Runaround for providing the binky box and tunnels), and it was a really great piece promoting rescue rabbits. We were behind the camera making sure the right message was given to the millions of viewers.
From there we went straight to Birmingham to the CEVA awards where we celebrated Richard Saunders being recognised as a Welfare Hero for his huge amount of work involved in getting the RVHD2 vaccine into the UK.
We then spent two days with Burgess at the British Small Animal Veterinary Association (BSAVA) Congress, talking to veterinary professionals and launching Rabbit Awareness Week. It’s great to work with other such dedicated people.
Dunelm remove cage from sale
The power of social media worked again when we shared a small hutch for sale on Dunelm’s website. Dunelm very quickly removed it from sale and promised to look into their range. If you see something that worries you please share it with us on one of our social media platforms.
Once again this year Pets Corner, Pets at Home and Jollyes suspended sales of rabbits over the Easter period. Good news, especially with the release of Peter Rabbit in cinemas. We’d like to thank these retailers for taking part in the Easter Amnesty.
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.