Statement from The RWAF

Thank you to everyone that sent messages and support last weekend. We were very busy at The Stoneleigh Pet Show, but we did try to keep on top of everything else. We are often unable to answer posts on facebook quickly because of our numerous other commitments. Last week, amongst other things, we: – Sent a detailed communication to a vet who had inspected what we considered to be very poor standards at a rabbit breeder and found everything to be toward, and cc’d the breeders club and the BRC. No reply, we will follow it up this week. – within a short time of seeing the images on Facebook of Crealy had phoned a senior manager at Crealy and discussed our concerns, and followed it up with an e-mail proposing the ways in which we think Crealy can not just rectify the problems that have been reported, but actually become an example to their visitors of good rabbit care. We are looking forward to further discussions and hope we can start moving things in the right direction. – followed up a complaint that we had made a few weeks earlier to a professional body about a mobile petting zoo that has been travelling its pet rabbits not only for about 2 hours each way, but within the same vehicle as predators, which must be horribly stressful. Again, we will keep close to that situation. – liaised with other charities on various matters concerning rabbits. – contacted several retailers and manufacturers about the A Hutch Is Not Enough campaign – replied to a BBC reporter about various rabbit subjects, and as a result, information was posted on the BBC website. – did a live BBC Radio Scotland interview. We also – set up and attended a 2 day pet show and spoke to thousands of visitors about rabbits and how to care for them, – manned the helpline, – replied to hundreds of e-mails, – designed and released the ‘Hay’ poster, – drafted a new poster and a press release, – followed up another complaint about a school in Bristol which is not keeping its rabbits in good conditions, – did the same with a garden centre in Sussex. Every RWAF committee member is in some way personally involved with rescuing rabbits from unspeakable situations. We just don’t make a public song and dance about it. In fact, we don’t shout about any of these things, and we’ll explain why below. Over the past 3 years, we have liaised with dozens of retailers, and resulting from that a lot of small hutches have been removed from sale, a lot of care information on websites has been updated, a lot of 6ft and larger hutches and exercise runs are now for sale. By working with manufacturers, it is finally possible for any retailer in the UK to source a 6ft hutch and exercise run if they want to. We are regularly in the trade press driving home the ‘A Hutch Is Not Enough’ message to retailers, and this in turn means that some retailers are driving this message to their customers. We have started to lay very strong foundations for the retail industry to be able to make improvements. We are working on several big projects at the moment that we are not able to discuss either because they involve other organisations, or because they are sensitive and we are not yet in a position to discuss them publicly, as it could jeopardise the results. We know it is a big ask, but please trust that we are working flat out to improve things and we hope to be able to give our members and supporters more information on the projects soon. At all times we behave in a professional manner and aim to work with organisations where possible. No matter how far apart our ethics may seem, we try to find common ground, because we have found that this is the best way to make permanent improvements in the long term. It may take us time to do our research, get our facts right, consult with experts and form a reply, but in our experience that is better than publicly and aggressively attacking an organisation and then expecting that organisation to be cooperative in future. We are very aware of some of the comments that have been made about the RWAF, by the same few usual suspects, and we find it shameful that some people would take opportunities like that to have a swipe at the RWAF, without themselves knowing the full facts, and even making false accusations at times. We look forward to hearing what results they achieve using their own techniques, and we wish them well. We are working with lots of other like minded organisations and we are very comfortable with what we are doing. Everyone is welcome on our Facebook page. We want it to be a welcoming place to share advice and support. But please do not come on to The RWAF page just to cause trouble: we have a job to do, so we can not monitor the Facebook page constantly, and we will have no option other than to remove people who appear only to post on the page to cause disruption rather than to give advice. If this applies to you, please direct your hostility and energy at the people who don’t have rabbit welfare on their agenda. We have maintained a dignified silence until now, but we have been contacted by supporters who have been very upset by comments they have seen on our page and elsewhere, so at their request, and for the record: * We do not support rabbits being locked in hutches – not even 6ft hutches. Outdoor rabbits should have at the very least a safe hutch and exercise run at all times so that they can exercise or shelter as they please and follow their own natural behaviour pattern. Indoor rabbits should have an equivalent amount of secure space. * We do not support breeders and we do support rescue, very much so – we have run a ‘Sponsor A Rescue’ scheme for many years and raised lots of money for rabbit rescue centres. However, we believe it is entirely unrealistic to suggest that all rabbit breeding will stop, and given that is the case, we have a policy regarding how we think it should be done, and we firmly believe that if that were followed, it would result in improvements in rabbit welfare. That does not mean that we support breeders, nor anyone pays the membership fee, and frankly such claims are libellous. Anyone is welcome to join and receive Rabbiting On magazine. It is a useful resource and the more people who are educated by it and enjoy it the better. Like it or not, that is how change for the better happens. We get a lot of feedback where people improved their rabbits’ lives after reading our Make It Right pages or Rabbiting On. * Membership subscription to the Rabbit Welfare Association (RWA) is just that – it covers the cost of producing and distributing Rabbiting On magazine every quarter. It does not go towards the campaigning and educational activities of the Rabbit Welfare Fund (RWF), and funds for the 2 are totally separate. * Anyone can have information from our vet list. At present you need to phone or email us (we will not ask whether or not you are a member) but when our new website is launched, the information will all be there so that whoever needs it can have it. If you would like to keep up to date with our campaign updates they are added to our website: We believe that it is essential to behave at all times professionally, and so we will not be directing negative comments at any other groups. We would however ask that if any interested party wishes to establish the true facts about the RWAF, they contact us directly rather than giving any credence whatsoever to anything they might read on line, other than what you see posted by us, on our Facebook page, on our website or on Twitter. We are a very small committee and we have very limited resources, we simply don’t have time to keep fighting our corner. All we want to do is help rabbits. Thanks for taking the time to read this. We hope all your buns are keeping cool in this crazy heat! Rabbit Welfare Association & Fund