UK in midst of serious rabbit welfare crisis, says Leeds rescue charity

Santa, a cute rescue bunny at Camp Nibble

By Aston Lamb

THE NUMBER of rabbits put up for adoption in the UK has seen a sharp rise following a rabbit welfare crisis.

Rabbits being placed in rescue centres has been a problem in the UK for a number of years, meaning local rabbit rescues are limited to taking in rabbits in poor condition as opposed to rabbits who are healthy but need new homes.

A spokesperson for Camp Nibble, a rabbit rescue centre in Leeds, said: “Despite our charity doors opening its doors to many small animals, consistently around 80 per cent of our rescue animals are rabbits.

“Sadly, all species of pet animal can fall victim to neglect and abuse to some extent. However, through the course of our work it has become shockingly apparent to us that the UK is in the midst of a serious rabbit welfare crisis.”

Some believe the crisis is due to a surge in unlicensed rabbit breeders selling rabbits to the public.

The Rabbit Welfare and Fund started a campaign called The Capone Campaign. The campaign targets unlicensed rabbit breeders who are known for their potentially poor welfare standards, making it harder for unlicensed sellers to operate, and uncover poor welfare standards that can then be reported to the RSPCA.

A spokesperson for RWAF said: “Possibly the biggest threat to rabbit welfare right now is the huge upsurge in unlicensed breeders appearing on classified ads on the internet.

“These breeders are not subject to any regulations, legislation or welfare checks and they provide no care advice to their customers.

“Using bespoke software, we have been able to analyse thousands of ‘rabbit for sale’ adverts to identify unlicensed pet retailers and then provide evidence to the relevant local authority.”

Another rabbit charity in Wiltshire, Cottontails Rescue, posted results of a study which showed that 36 per cent of people said the most common reason for giving a pet rabbit to a rescue centre was due to “children losing interest” and that “the novelty wore off”.

And 20 per cent of rabbits were given to rescue centres because they “didn’t know how much time/work was involved”.

The research also showed 60 per cent of people had little or non-existent knowledge on rabbit care prior to buying.

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