Rabbit Advocacy Animal Matters
Easter Is No Holiday for "Meat" Rabbits
For millions of Americans, rabbits are a cherished part of our families. Living in homes as beloved companions and family members, they show us affection and provide us with joy. These intelligent, social, and playful animals form incredibly close bonds with other rabbits and their human families. Their personalities and preferences are as distinct as those of any cat or dog—they can be active or laid-back, affectionate or grumpy, rambunctious or quiet.
Rabbits even hold a place in the fabric of our culture. Each springtime, the Easter Bunny makes his highly anticipated visits to millions of American homes, and has become an ubiquitous icon treasured by children and adults alike.
Yet each year in the United States, approximately 8.5 million rabbits are raised and slaughtered in ways that would shock any compassionate person. These rabbits live and die in ways that draw a shocking contrast to the compassionate regard with which Americans treat rabbits in their homes. A new investigation by East Bay Animal Advocates (EBAA) documents this treatment, revealing terrible conditions at one of California's rabbit slaughter plants, including intensive confinement in wire cages, unsanitary conditions, and denial of veterinary care for sick rabbits.
Inhumane, But Not Unusual
The conditions spotlighted by the investigation are not unusual in the rabbit meat industry. Many of the industry’s approximately 200,000 U.S. producers keep animals in restrictive cages similar to conditions endured by most of the country's egg-laying hens. As many as six baby rabbits can be crowded into a wire enclosure that affords each animal the same amount of floor space as a sheet of legal-sized paper. Such intensive confinement can cause mobility problems, spine deformation, sores, and infections.
After birth, baby rabbits are often weaned early, causing stress and sometimes health disorders and illnesses such as pneumonia. Once separated from their mothers and moved into cages, the young rabbits—called "fryers"—languish for approximately 9 to 10 weeks, at which point producers typically load the rabbits into trucks and ship them long distances for processing at one of the few rabbit slaughterhouses in the country.
During slaughter, commercial processors may attempt to first stun rabbits by breaking their necks. However, it is difficult to stun "meat rabbits" effectively this way, because they are too large to handle easily. Rabbits are slaughtered using a number of other inhumane methods, including having their heads struck with a piece of iron pipe, having their necks cut before being hung up to be "bled out," and by decapitation. Many smaller breeders slaughter rabbits themselves and may even shoot them with pellet guns or break their necks by standing on a broom handle laid over rabbits' necks.
Little Protection from Abuse
Few protections exist for the millions of rabbits raised in confinement for meat each year. Only a small fraction of the approximately 200,000 U.S. rabbit producers are federally inspected, and USDA certification is currently on a voluntary basis.
Rabbits also lack protections from inhumane slaughter practices. In 1958, Congress passed the Humane Methods of Slaughter Act (HMSA) to address concerns about abusive slaughter practices. The HMSA requires that "cattle, calves, horses, mules, sheep, swine, and other livestock" be slaughtered in accordance with humane methods. However, the USDA does not interpret the HMSA to include rabbits. Commercial processors are left subject to state laws, many of which exclude common agricultural practices, no matter how abusive.
by Mark Hawthorne (This article originally appeared in the November 2006 issue of Satya Magazine.)
being one of the most popular companion animals in the country, rabbits are
among the most exploited. Domestic rabbits – cherished for their playful, gentle
natures – are skinned for their fur, blinded to test cosmetics, bred for show,
drugged in the name of science, clipped for wool products, pulled out of
magicians’ hats, killed in vivisection labs, sold as food for pet snakes, and
raised and shipped by breeders motivated only by profit. To add insult to all
this injury, we chop off their paws and tout the rabbit’s foot as a “good luck”
Comment: Millions of rabbits are kept in intensive confinement and inhumanely slaughtered annually. One way to bring attention to this issue is to network with other animal activists and speak out. Lobby government for change, contact the media, and if rabbit is being served at a restaurant you know of, ask that it be removed.
January 15, 2012 The story of 18 rabbits liberated from Portland meat collective
April 14, 2012 California backyard butcher charged
April 4, 2012 Globally, rabbit farming has nearly doubled in the last 20 years (dates unreferenced) and has become much more intensive. There are no EU laws specifically protecting rabbits and these vulnerable animals have been ignored in an important part of the new EU slaughter regulations coming into force in 2013. They are completely defenceless against inhumane practices and cruelty. And, meat from rabbits kept in filthy, inhumane conditions is being sold across the UK and Europe. Not only is it barbaric, you put yourself at risk if you eat it.
A recent investigation by Compassion in World Farming revealed high levels of suffering, and conditions so detrimental to their welfare that more than 15% of them die. All crammed together in tiny, barren wire cages. It’s shocking and cruel. Please be a voice for these gentle creatures. They need you. Laws must change – in Europe, Canada, and around the world.
December 4, 2012 Take action against backyard slaughter
October 16, 2015 Hundreds Of Animals Rescued In Biggest-Ever Animal Cruelty Raid
Comment: It would be better for all of society if these sadists were put to death. When will we find the inherent immorality of such crimes intolerable? When will we be moved to put an end to these atrocities once and for all?