50+ reasons why the breeding and selling of rabbits should be banned.
BaBBA was born from the realisation that education alone will not solve the current rabbit welfare issues. Here’s a non-exhaustive list of reasons behind the campaign to ban the breeding and selling of pet rabbits.
Too many rabbits, not enough good homes
Rabbits are the third most popular pet yet the most misunderstood and neglected.
Rabbits are often purchased on a whim by people who haven’t done any proper research and therefore are not aware that rabbits can live up to 12 years or more. They are expensive and time-consuming. They need regular health checks, treatment, vaccinations, neutering. They need a lot of space, a friend of their own kind, daily cleaning and feeding. Their personality is also likely to change when they reach maturity. They might become territorial, feisty and not so cuddly.
59% of rabbits entering rescue are surrendered within the first year of ownership (Make Mine Chocolate Report 2010)
‘The kids have lost interest’ is a popular reason given for unwanted rabbits.
‘No time for them’ is another popular reason for unwanted rabbits, usually within a year of purchase, often months, sometimes weeks.
Rabbits are typically kept in unsuitable small cages or hutches.
Despite rabbits being sociable animals, more than half of the pet rabbit population live a solitary life (540,000) but 91% of rabbit owners say that their pet is happy (2017 PDSA Animal Wellbeing (PAW) Report).
Being territorial animals, rabbits can be difficult to bond. Some end up with serious fight injuries because their owners were not aware. Rescue centres are often asked to take those rabbits.
Many rescued rabbits often show terrible signs of neglect, some are irreversible.
The rabbits that don’t make it to a rescue are often passed from pillar to post when the novelty wears off, sold online, given away for free or abandoned outside.
The rabbits advertised for free are at risk of ending up as snake food or dog bait.
Rabbits are often found dumped outside in boxes, in parks or by the side of the road.
Those that are found in time are the lucky ones. The perpetrators are rarely found or punished.
Many people have this idea that domesticated rabbits can be released outside and live happily together with wild rabbits. In reality they are simply left to fend for themselves and rarely survive. If they are not caught by a predator, they will suffer, die from hunger, diseases or the elements.
In September 2017, the RSPCA revealed a shocking 181% increase in rabbit abandonment compared to the previous year.
45 % of veterinary professionals feel that one of the main issues affecting the welfare of pet rabbits is the complete lack of care, i.e. rabbits being forgotten about. (2016 PDSA Animal Wellbeing report)
Rabbits are treated as commodities in our throw-away society.
Too many unwanted rabbits, not enough space in rescue centres
67,000 rabbits end up in rescue centres each year in the UK (RWAF 2012 survey)
This figures almost doubles the previous 35,000 recorded in 1999.
It is not fair that rescue centres have to pick up the pieces breeding and selling out of control.
The waiting lists are getting longer. Many rabbits don’t make it to the list. Rabbit owners rarely accept the wait until a space is available and sell their rabbits online, give them away for free or abandon them outside.
Of the thousands of rabbits that are currently sitting in rescue, some have been for weeks, others for months, or even years. Some rabbits spend their whole lives in a rescue centre with no interest.
Rescue centres are self-funded and rely on donations from the public, with many having to find thousands of pounds each month to pay for the vet bills.
Rescue centres cannot cope physically and financially with the growing numbers of unwanted rabbits. Many have had to close their doors because the pressure is unbearable.
Too many rabbits, not enough good vets
Due to their complexity, rabbits are classed as exotic species in veterinary terms and rabbit savvy vets are still difficult to find.
Unfortunately this can result in misdiagnosis, inadequate advice or treatment of the rabbits by unspecialised practices.
Poor experience leads rabbit owners to travel long distances to find a specialist vet. More stress for the rabbits who get nervous in transport.
The problem with breeders
The breeding of pet rabbits is currently out of control.
Thousands of people breed rabbits from their backyard completely unregulated and unlicensed.
Classified sites and social media platforms allow breeders to advertise pets for free, which encourages unscrupulous backyard breeders looking to make a bit of money.
Baby rabbits are often advertised as cute and easy pets suitable for children and ok with cats and dogs, despite rabbits being fragile and nervous prey animals.
Many rabbits are interbred, or bred to look cute (e.g. brachycephalic), which often leads to health issues and teeth problems for life.
Rabbit suffer in breeding facilities in the same way dogs suffer in puppy farms. The rabbits are typically kept in cramped breeding cages or hutches. The females are used until they are exhausted and cannot produce anymore. The males are used as ‘stud’ until no longer wanted.
Breeders routinely cull the rabbits that they cannot sell.
Breeders do not check that the rabbits go to a good home. Some even offer to dispatch the rabbits by courier.
The licensing of dog breeders does not prevent the overbreeding and suffering of dogs. Similarly, the licensing of rabbit breeders would not solve those issues for rabbits.
The problem with pet shops
Same as breeders, pet shops exploit rabbits for money with no regard for their welfare.
The rabbits in pet shops are often wrongly sexed and sold unvaccinated and unneutered which can results in nasty fights, unwanted litters and deaths.
By not vaccinating their ‘stock’, pet shops and breeders have contributed to the spread of the fatal rabbit VHD2 disease in the UK, affecting pet owners and rescue centres.
The baby rabbits in pet shops often have underlying health issues when delivered from the breeder. Unsuspecting buyers might not be prepared or willing to pay the vet bills. Many rabbits are put to sleep for those reasons.
Pet shops are unnatural and unsuitable environments for rabbits and set the wrong example in terms of housing and care.
Pet shops keep on selling small and inadequate housing for rabbits.
52% of rabbits surrendered to rescue centres are originally obtained from pet shops/superstores or garden centres (Make Mine Chocolate Report 2010)
Pet shop customers are not vetted and no home-checks are carried out.
Many rabbits are purchased on a whim by people who do not understand their needs.
Pet shops routinely give incorrect or no advice.
When you truly love rabbits you don’t want them to suffer.
It’s not about your own rabbits.
It’s about the bigger picture.
It’s about stopping the problem at the source.
It’s about them and it’s about now.
So please get involved.
Neuter your rabbits. Adopt. Don’t shop.
Stop the suffering. Ban the breeding.
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