Rabbit Advocacy Animal Matters


North Shore Outlook

Bunny debate Published: Apr 19 2007

While I am pleased that Petcetera will stop rabbit sales in its 17 BC stores I would like to point out that the change wasn’t voluntary. It was years of outside pressure on both the BC SPCA and this retailer that has forced a shift in practice. 

As Petcetera was busy expanding its locations, colonies of discarded rabbits were springing up just as fast. 

And the BC SPCA didn’t seem to be acting on their behalf. The number of baby rabbits bought on a whim and just as easily dumped has been staggering. It has kept the breeders in business and condemned thousands upon thousands of these “pets” to a miserable existence. 

Petcetera could demonstrate real corporate social responsibility and end rabbit sales not only in British Columbia but all across Canada as well.  It would be the right ethical and business decision, a win-win for all, the rabbits, Petcetera, and our communities. 

Carmina Gooch
North Vancouver


Petcetera agreed to stop selling rabbits in all its BC stores by September 1, 2007 and instead serve as a satellite adoption centre for homeless rabbits taken in by the SPCA. This program has not been expanded to include stores outside the Lower Mainland.

One can still buy unsterilized baby bunnies that have been supplied by breeders and which, in all probability, will end up unwanted and abandoned within a few months. 

Both the BC SPCA and Petcetera claim they are committed to working together to reduce the number of homeless and abandoned rabbits across the province, yet their words appear inconsistent with their actions.  Evidently there are some internal issues that have yet to be resolved.  Meanwhile, an overburdened market is being further taxed, and the cycle of easy acquisition and disposal perpetuated.  


The following e-mail was sent to BC SPCA management and the president of Petcetera on Jan 30/08
Subject: Ending Rabbit Sales  
Dear Sirs,
In March of 2007 Petcetera and the BC SPCA had widespread media coverage regarding the working arrangement to reduce the number of homeless and abandoned rabbits in this province.  Petcetera agreed to stop sales in all Lower Mainland stores by April 2nd and provincial sales by September 1st.  Satellite adoption centres were to be set up for sterilized rabbits provided by SPCA branches.
This hasn't happened.  While recognizing that there are some internal issues and "bumps in the road" that need addressing, why not stop sales entirely while the matter is being studied?  As you are well aware, Kelowna and the Okanagan are flooded with unwanted rabbits that have been abandoned to the outdoors.  Meanwhile stores in that region are still being stocked with unaltered baby rabbits. 
Can you indicate as to when your agreed upon program will be fully implemented and the commitment honoured?
Carmina Gooch

Kelowna seeks help for burgeoning rabbit population

Our group continues to correspond with BC municipalities regarding rabbit welfare issues.
Sample letter: 

Please copy and distribute to Mayor and Councillors and other appropriate department/s.  An acknowledgement is requested. 

Thank you,
Carmina Gooch
Date: February 4, 2008
To:  Mayor Lake and Council
Cc: Legislative Services
From: Carmina Gooch, President
Rabbit Advocacy Group of BC
Subject: Domestic Rabbit Issues

Dear Mayor and Council: 

Over the past several months there has been much media coverage regarding the increasing and expanding domestic rabbit populations in the Kelowna and Okanagan areas.

I have been doing rabbit advocacy and rescue work for close to fifteen years and provide a sanctuary in North Vancouver for cast-off companion rabbits.  During this time I have seen an increase in the number of European rabbits that are either abandoned outdoors or brought to shelters, pounds, humane societies, or to rescue groups.  Most owners choose the easiest route when their pet becomes unwanted and that is to dump s/he outdoors, unsterilized.  Baby bunnies are often thought of as 'starter pets' for young children and purchased on impulse.  Most become unwanted by the time they are young adults and the novelty of the new pet has worn off.  

Rather than spend taxpayer dollars on costly control measures that are ineffective or on other benign approaches such as asking the public not to feed the rabbits, some proactive options that you may wish to consider are: 

  • sales to be limited to only those rabbits that have been spayed or neutered.  The age of maturity is between 4-6 months of age, with 5 months being the optimum age for sterilization
  • space allocation for satellite adoption sales in stores
  • in-store displays to provide full details of the origin of the animal
  • a temporary moratorium on all rabbit sales; adoption of rescued rabbits only

Under section 8(3)(k) of the Community Charter Council may regulate, prohibit, and impose requirements in relation to animals.  European rabbits are currently listed in the Environment and Wildlife Regulation as an "alien invasive species" and therefore the sale of domestic rabbits may be prohibited.   

  • education programs
  • contact information readily available to the public for local and provincial rabbit concerns or issues
  • commercial, hobby, and backyard breeders, including 4H clubs be regulated and licensed
  • ear tattoo or similar identification for rabbits
  • an action plan that would include networking and a coordinated effort among key stakeholders in this issue

The BC SPCA and Petcetera announced in March 2007 that sales of rabbits would end in all BC stores by September 1, 2007 and that only sterilized rabbits provided by the SPCA would be available for adoption.  This agreement has not been honoured by these two parties in your community, thus further taxing an already overburdened market. 

BC SPCA March Newsletter http://www.spca.bc.ca/news  

Hop to Adopt!
The BC SPCA and Petcetera Stores have announced a new partnership to reduce the number of homeless and abandoned rabbits
in BC. Beginning April 1st, Petcetera will no longer sell rabbits, but instead will serve as a satellite adoption centre for rabbits rescued by the BC SPCA. The program will begin in all Lower Mainland Petcetera Stores on April 2nd and will be in place in Petcetera locations across BC by September 1st.

The BC SPCA rescues more than 1,700 rabbits every year in its 36 branches across BC. "There is a growing problem in BC with pet guardians who don't spay or neuter their rabbits or who just abandon them to fend for themselves," says Craig Daniell, CEO of the BC SPCA. "This has led to an ever-increasing number of homeless rabbits in our shelters." Daniell says the new Petcetera partnership is a significant step forward in addressing the issue.


As societal values change and with animal welfare concerns frequently an issue the public is increasingly rejecting the notion that pets are commodities to be bought on impulse and then abandoned when they become tiresome.  Shelters and rescue groups cannot absorb all the unwanted and "culling" or killing the homeless is considered unacceptable and inhumane in today's times. 

Please visit our website www.rabbitadvocacy.com or www.petsinneedsociety.ca (no longer active) to view some of our rescues, advocacy work, and campaigns on behalf of rabbits.  We will be running a public service announcement in the North Shore Outlook on February 7th reminding people that February is Adopt A Rescued Rabbit Month. (attachment)  

I would be pleased to answer any questions you may have and look forward to corresponding further with you on rabbit-related matters. 


Feb 8/08  From the City of Kamloops 

Good afternoon; your letter of 2008 February 4 will be placed on Council's agenda of February 19 for consideration. Please let me know if you have any concerns or questions regarding the above. Thank you. Yours, Carol

Plenty more news & info on our Pet Shops/Rabbits/Legislation & News/PSAs pages