A rabbit welfare charity has hit out at claims Britain is a nation of pet lovers when they suggest there is an “acceptable neglect” of rabbits in the UK.
In the run up to this year’s Rabbit Awareness Week (RAW), Rae Todd from the Rabbit Welfare Association & Fund (RWAF) says thousands of pet rabbits have become “nothing more than garden ghosts” after suffering cruel neglect at the hands of their owners.
“We think we’re a nation of pet lovers but we’re not,” she says. “It’s about time we dropped that label and aimed at being a nation of good pet owners.”
According to RWAF figures some 67,000 rabbits are dumped in rescue centres, either due to regretted impulse purchases, the cost of vaccination and neutering or behavioural issues, and end up leading lonely lives.
“When we see a solitary rabbit in a hutch in our neighbour’s garden, most of us don’t bat an eye lid. It has become an acceptable neglect,” adds Rae. “Even though it’s been scientifically proven that it’s cruel to keep rabbits in this way, they have become nothing more than discarded fluffy toys.”
This year’s Rabbit Awareness Week (RAW), which runs from June 18 to 26, aims to highlight the issue of companionship for rabbits, tasking the 57 percent of rabbit owners who own single rabbits to find a suitable friend at rescue centres – and to take advantage of free rabbit health checks at their local vet.
Todd believes there’s “no excuse” for not getting the correct rabbit housing and food for rabbits.
“People are not being intentionally cruel to rabbits but they’re not doing the proper research before they buy them. Today, it’s so easy to get information on proper rabbit welfare – it’s all over the internet – and yet more than half of all rabbit owners are still buying tiny hutches without runs and feeding their rabbits a muesli diet with no hay.
“They keep their rabbits on their own for hours, sometimes days at a time, and when their pet becomes aggressive and unhappy they give them away. It’s a vicious cycle of neglect.
“We’re urging people to find out more about what’s involved in caring for pet rabbits and if it’s seems like too much responsibility, then don’t take them on – it’s as simple as that. ”
To find out more about RWAF and proper rabbit care go to www.rabbitwelfare.co.uk or www.rabbitawarenessweek.co.uk