Rabbit Advocacy Animal Matters
City of North Van has never taken responsibility for rabbits
February 2013: Rabbit Advocacy received a call from a concerned resident regarding two stray rabbits that showed up in a Lower Lonsdale community garden. We were less than impressed with the City’s response. Read on:
Dear Mayor Mussatto, Council, and City Officials:
The Rabbit Advocacy Group of BC was contacted last week by a Lower Lonsdale resident regarding two domestic rabbits that had been dumped in the community garden at the Neighbourhood House at 225 E. 2nd St.
Concerned for their welfare, she and several others managed to round them up. Efforts were then made to try to have the rabbits placed. Evidently, she spoke to Mr. McRae, Bylaws Manager, who informed her that the City’s animal control services only deals with dogs and cats, not rabbits.
The City does not have an animal shelter, the contract with the SPCA ended in 2009, and the decision has been made not to amalgamate services with the District of North Vancouver. According to Mayor Mussatto, the current system “works 99 per cent of the time.”
However, the many volunteers, myself included, who are helping animals on the North Shore would disagree. I have been contacted a number of times over the years regarding stray rabbits in neighbourhoods or from people wishing to surrender their pet.
These two abandoned rabbits ended up at the District’s Maplewood Farm.
What is the policy and procedure for residents who find roaming rabbits in the City? Animal welfare and protection is an important issue, regardless of species. There are bound to be more incidents in the future and residents need to know what services are available to them.
I look forward to your comments on this matter.
The City’s response:
Dear Ms. Gooch,
Your letter to Mayor and Council received on February 18, 2013 has been referred to me for a response. This is in regards to existing policy and bylaws regarding rabbits within the city.
The City of North Vancouver currently holds bylaws related to the care and control of dogs (Dog Tax and Regulation Bylaw 8113 (2010) and cats (Cat Regulation Bylaw 7105 (1999). As well, the city has both bylaws to manage rodents (Rodent control Bylaw 5899 (1988) and to manage small creatures, which includes rabbits (see attached Small Creatures Bylaw 4213 (1970). The Small creatures Bylaw, however, only provides guidelines for the total amount of a specific creature allowed to be under care and control of an individual person. The bylaw itself does not regulate in regards to licensing, control, or housing of “at large” rabbits.
When responding to your query in regards to policy and procedures surrounding finding roaming rabbits, I will point you to the BC SPCA which, according to their publically available mandate, is responsible for animal welfare matters such as this. I am providing you with a link to the BC SPCA mandate here: http://www.spca.bc.ca/welfare. The BC SPCA website specifically refers to methods of rabbit management, as well as what to do when a person either wants to surrender a rabbit, or a rabbit is found by a member of the public. The address for this information is provided here: http://www.spca.bc.ca/youth/about-animals/pet-care/rabbit-care-for-kids.html
For reference, I will quote directly off of the BC SPCA website regarding their comments surrounding domesticated rabbits:
If you can no longer care for your rabbit, it is up to you to find a new home for him. Place ads in local papers, put up notices and email your friends and relatives. Look for someone who will be able to care for him for the rest of his life.
Never release your bunny in a park or wooded area thinking he can fend for himself. It is against the law. Abandoned rabbits can become nuisances to farmers and destroy the habitats of other wild animals. In addition, your rabbit will become victim to predators such as owls, hawks, eagles, coyotes, or cats, will get injured or sick, or will slowly starve.
If you have tried everything and are still unsuccessful in finding a new home for your rabbit, contact the BC SPCA or other animal rescue group to see if they can help.
Finally, after both discussions with the City’s Animal Control Officer, and reviewing records, the City of North Vancouver has never taken responsibility of rabbits. In regards to the handling of abandoned rabbits, the BC SPCA defines “abandonment” of pet animals as a potential cruelty matter, and as per the BC SPCA mandate, should be responding to these matters.
Thank you for your comments and concerns, and please don’t hesitate to contact me regarding animal control matters within the city.
Regards, Brad McRae, Manager Bylaw Service
Comment: Municipalities create their own bylaws as per the unique needs of the community. The CNV has elected not to address the issue of rabbits and has put the responsibility elsewhere. Individuals and groups on the North Shore, like Rabbit Advocacy, Pacific Animal Fdn., and Fur & Feathers, volunteer their time and spend their own money to help and care for animals whereas the city has not stepped up at all. Animal welfare simply is not a priority with Mayor Mussatto and bylaws are outdated.
Update: In August, we heard from the employee of Maplewood Farm, who stepped up and took the two rabbits. Unfortunately, there have been some discussions with the landlord of the rental unit surrounding the keeping of the animals. We have been advising as to options, and are willing to take them into our sanctuary, if necessary.