Despite being the third most popular domestic pet in Britain, the rabbit is unfortunately “the UK's most neglected”. According to Rabbits Require Rights (a registered Scottish charity).
A spokeswoman for Rabbits Require Rights said:
"As the law currently stands there are no enforceable welfare protection available to rabbits. They are too easily sold and too easily discarded. For want of a better word, they are sold like sweeties."
The R.R.R. are aiming to be the voice of these silent sufferers, and have had a petition for the general public to add their voice too. With it, they aimed to tackle the growing problem of neglect and improve welfare legislation to give rabbits similar rights as are afforded domestic pet dogs and cats.
They also aim to take on unregulated breeding and
R.R.R. carry out regular awareness events and have a seat on the Scottish Parliament's Cross Party Group on Animal Welfare.
They are also stakeholders with the Scottish Government's Animal Welfare Division.
In a recent meeting one of the main issues discussed had
been rabbit welfare, and the President had followed up with Diane Bain from Rabbits Require Rights.
Diane raised concerns that rabbits were not being presented to vets and that a large number of vets appeared to lack knowledge of rabbit problems.
Members noted plans to promote Rabbit Awareness Week jointly with the SSPCA and in close liaison with BSAVA and AWF. They agreed that it was important to raise awareness within the profession and draw attention to rabbit welfare across the board.
Rabbits Require Rights recent pet rabbit welfare online petition gathered 2044 signatures and helped raise awareness for the plight of neglected furry friend.
Other petitions seeking changes to rabbit welfare legislation include other online petitions containing 4,800 signatures and hard copy petitions bringing the total so far to over 6,000, as of February 2015.
The petition, calling for rabbits to be given the same protection as cats and dogs, as well as regulations on breeding, and the minimum size of housing, was first discussed by MSPs in early 2015.
A spokeswoman for Rabbits Require Rights added: "We will return to parliament for the second hearing of our petition sometime in September or October when the new session dates are announced.
"We've had some good feedback from other welfare bodies in support of our aims, so it is hoped that some level of the improvements we have called for will be addressed."
The Scottish SPCA said it rescued 728 rabbits in 2014 and had taken 550 into care up to August 2015. The concern is that hundreds more were living lonely lives in small hutches.
It said rabbits are intelligent, social animals, requiring lots of care and interaction from their owners.
Scottish SPCA chief superintendent Mike Flynn said: "One of the most common excuses we hear is that the children in the family, who asked for the rabbit in the first place, have become fed up now that the novelty of the new pet has worn off.
"Another reason is that the owner simply
doesn't have the time to look after their rabbit.
"One of the biggest issues is rabbits being left in a hutch with no interaction other than a brief visit from their owner to bring food and water."
He added: "These poor rabbits are literally suffering in silence, living a miserable and lonely life."
The Scottish SPCA hopes to re-home many of the rabbits it has taken in.
It is estimated over
67,000 rabbits passed through UK rescue centres in 2012 alone, and
this figure does not include those re-homed through other means such
as classified adverts, or released into the wild by owners not
wanting them (an immediate death sentence for a domesticated pet
Last year, an animal welfare scientist said the
pets needed better legal protection against neglect.
James Oxley said,
“...unlike some EU countries, the UK does not have legal requirements on the size of hutches, or that rabbits be kept in pairs.”
Writing in the World Rabbit Science Association's journal, he suggested a review of how existing laws impact on rabbit welfare.
The two main activities of the WRSA are :
In addition, the branches have their own activities, such as scientific meetings, and the organisation or publication of technical journals on rabbit production and/or management of rabbit web sites.
By choosing a rabbit from a rescue centre rather than a pet shop, a rabbit gets a much needed, and loving 'forever home', AND ALSO a space is created for another rabbit to be temporarily re-housed.
BY ADOPTING YOU ARE SAVING TWO LIVES!
Rabbit adoption makes financial sense too.
Let's take a closer look at the facts....
A shop bought pair of
rabbits (rabbits must be in pairs otherwise they get very depressed and sick), can cost you up to £710 in the first few months!!
You have the cost of buying them, vaccinations and neutering.
Then you have the complications of aftercare as shop rabbits are invariably very unhealthy and carry illness and disease. Treatments for even basic illnesses can be very costly.
It has been reported by many rabbit owners on this site and others, that pet shop staff, and inexperienced, non-registered breeders, are NOT educated in proper rabbit welfare and ongoing care, and only know a few basic points deemed enough to 'make a sale'.
Here are some basic estimations:
Adopting from a Rescue Centre or Animal Shelter
In comparison the contribution you make to rescue rabbit can be as low £40 all in!
This is because every centre and shelter always neuters and vaccinates each rabbit when they come to them.
Each one also receives a full health check, with any illness or disease treated completely prior to adoption.
So a cost for a pair of healthy, bonded, vaccinated and neutered rabbits can be as low as only £80.
PLUS you get professional, well educated advice on pet care and rabbit welfare anytime you need it from their helpful staff, volunteers, websites and literature.
Many Just Rabbits readers have found valuable help, guidance and support by joining the Binky Bun Club.
Why don't you give it a trial and see what you think!
Your bunnies will thank you for it!
Share your views, points, tit-bits and tales! (Remember, you don't have to have a Facebook account to make a comment.)
All input is good, no matter how small ;-) Thank-you.