Rabbit Awareness Week (RAW) 2015 springs into action again this year (9th – 17th May) at the London Pet Show, aiming to highlight the health and welfare needs of one of the nation’s most popular pets. To mark the occasion, organisers are calling on the Pet and Vet industries and communities across the UK to unite to help improve rabbit welfare by signing up to the free initiative.
Following RAW’s biggest year ever in 2014, with almost 3,000 vet practices signing up to the campaign, veterinary surgeries across the UK have pledged once again to offer free health checks throughout the month, rather than just the week of RAW.
Recently published research by the University of Bristol, which was commissioned by RAW partner, RSPCA, revealed that many rabbits could be living in conditions which are potentially detrimental to their welfare. Dr. Jane Tyson, Rabbit Behaviour and Welfare Expert at the RSPCA, said: “The study showed that 59% of rabbits live in hutches and less than a quarter of rabbits have continual access to an exercise area*. Rabbits should have constant access to an appropriate exercise area to allow them to exhibit their natural behaviours and for their mental and physical wellbeing.”
The report highlights the need to educate rabbit owners on the housing, exercise and foraging needs of rabbits. Therefore this year’s focus will be on improving the environment for the nation’s one million pet bunnies.
As well as veterinary practices, other supporters of the national campaign include leading pet food company Burgess, MSD Animal Health – the producers of Panacur Rabbit, an aid to the control of E. cuniculi in rabbits, RSPCA, PSDA, Blue Cross, Wood Green and RWAF (Rabbit Welfare Association & Fund).
Suzanne Moyes, Veterinary Manager at Burgess Pet Care, said: “It is fantastic that RAW keeps on growing and is going from strength to strength. We hope to increase the number of vet practices, rescue centres, schools and retailers signing up this year and attract new corporate partners to make it even bigger and better.
“The sole aim of RAW is to educate owners about responsible rabbit ownership and improve the wellbeing of one of Britain’s most popular pets. It couldn’t be easier for vets to sign up to offer free health checks and help us educate the nation on rabbit health and welfare.”
Vets, rescue centres, schools and retailers can sign up to RAW 2015 by visiting, www.rabbitawarenessweek.co.uk. Supporters will receive free support kits which include posters and leaflets.