Derbyshire pet trainer's call to rehome rabbits as rescue centres at bursting point amid cost of living crisis
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The amnesty by The Rabbit Welfare Association and Fund (RWA&F), calls for breeders to suspend their activities temporarily to reduce the numbers of unwanted rabbits in need of accommodation as rescues centres are at a bursting point.
Last year RSPCA witnessed a large, 48% increase in the number of rabbits arriving at its centres as thousands were abandoned due to lockdown breeding and the cost of living crisis.
1,090 rabbits were taken into care by RSPCA, while it’s estimated that the charity dealt with around two-and-a-half times that number in 2022.
While the intake of rabbits surged, rehoming rates fell due to the cost of living crisis. Rabbits, many of whom are rescued from poor welfare conditions, find themselves staying on average 132 days at RSPCA centres.
There was a 42% fall in the numbers of bunnies adopted at RSPCA centres in 2022 when compared to 2019.
Apart from calling for the breeding amnesty, RWA&F has launched a petition calling for a change in legislation to ensure rabbit breeders require the same licensing as dog breeders in a bid to improve rabbit welfare. The petition has already received over 41,000 signatures.
Currently, there is no licensing of rabbit breeders in England and anyone can start breeding and selling offspring without adequate checks. That means inexperienced owners are often left with multiple litters they can’t look after.
Alison Bruce, 35, of Chesterfield who has been working with pets since she was 15 and owns two rabbits, Carly and Jimmy, said: “I fully support the amnesty for rabbits. There has been a 50% increase in people abandoning rabbits which is putting a huge strain on rescue centres. Since the pandemic there has been a surge in rabbits being abandoned and a decline in them being rehomed.
"Sadly, the cost of living crisis has had a huge impact on animal welfare as the cost of food, bedding and vet bills is on the rise people are struggling to afford to keep their pets and rescue centres are in a dire state.
"I think a temporary ban on rabbit breeding is needed, at least until we get through this crisis. As there is no licensing law on breeding rabbits, anybody can start breeding so we need to bring in a new to ensure rabbits are protected. ”
Alice, who runs Ace Canine Training for dogs, added: "I take huge pride in giving my two rabbits a good life, plenty of room to roam and lots of enrichment to keep them busy and I would urge anybody thinking of buying a rabbit to go to their local rescue centre and rehome one. Do your research and understand what your rabbit needs to live a happy , healthy life and make sure you are fully committed when rehoming one.
Alison has shared a number of facts owners should consider before getting a rabbit:
* It’s very difficult to sex a rabbit and often owners are left with multiples litters. Neutering or spaying is advised to avoid accidental litters.
* Rabbits can get pregnant again quickly after giving birth
* Some breeds can live up to 12 years