Rae Walters, Director at the Rabbit Welfare Association & Fund says; “We are hugely disappointed by the decision and statement released by the BBC in response to 1,500 complaints shared by viewers following the broadcaster airing an episode of Sort your Life Out on February 1st 2023, where a family’s rabbits were moved from a large enclosure in their conservatory to an outside hutch with no exercise run attached. Although the BBC have deemed the space designed by the production team as ‘safe and secure’, the homing of rabbits in a hutch does not meet obligations under the Animal Welfare Act 2006, nor the Good Practice Codes for the welfare of Rabbits in England.
“Confining rabbits to hutches isn’t just restrictive and unkind, but it can also cause serious health problems such as spinal deformities, obesity, overgrown nails and behavioural problems.
“The recommended minimum enclosure size is 3m x 2m x 1m high, and they should have 24/7 access to this. This area should include a shelter, like a hutch, but that should never be the sole accommodation. To be clear, it is not the fact that the rabbits were moved outside, although that could be dangerous depending on the time of year it is done, but the fact that the rabbits have no safe exercise area now. Free ranging in a secure garden is fine, but it should be supervised, and not instead of providing a safe exercise area, protected from predators, which the rabbits have 24/7 access to.
“The BBC is seen by many as a source of accurate information. It has a responsibility to produce TV programmes which correctly show best practice for animal welfare, but at the very least meet the legal minimum requirements. Failure to do so leads to pet owners being falsely educated; and rabbits being mis-treated. We would like to know if the BBC sought expert advice on this ruling, or if it comes from a place of ignorance.
“We appeal to the BBC to reconsider this dangerous statement and use its platform to inform and educate its viewers on animal welfare.”