Rabbit Advocacy Animal Matters
Community rallies to save UVic bunnies
July 28, 2010 By Kyle Slavin, Saanich News
A strong show of community support – donations totalling nearly $70,000 along with 9.5 hectares of land – will give more than 400 rabbits from the University of Victoria a second chance at life on Vancouver Island.
Susan Vickery, who runs an animal sanctuary on Salt Spring Island, spent the last month working furiously to find homes for as many rabbits as she could, while money, including a $50,000 committment from non-profit Fur Bearer Defenders for sterilizations, came pouring in.
“We’ve got the money. I have enough spay and neuter funds for 800 rabbits, and at least 16 vets on board to do the procedures at cost,” Vickery said. Vickery said she’s also found a place in Coombs – near Parksville – that will likely become the new home for hundreds of rabbits.
In June, UVic released its long-term rabbit management plan that revealed it was looking to keep only 200 of the nearly 1,600 rabbits on campus.
Tom Smith, the university’s director of facilities management said right now the 400 to 500 rabbits are likely good enough not to warrant a cull this summer. “If we can get 400 to 500 rabbits out of here in August, if there can be sanctuary space for those, we’ll probably be satisfied in doing that for the August activity,” he said.
According to a Ministry of Environment spokesperson, two permit applications have been received in the last month – one to house 40 to 60 rabbits and the other to move 1,000 rabbits to Texas, the latter of which is still being reviewed. (Vickery already has an approved permit issued earlier this year.)
Vickery said the community support has been wonderful, but adds that this is just the first step in a long process of keeping these rabbits protected. “People need to remain interested and continue to support it. I’m concerned about the daily maintenance and volunteer aspect of it (down the road),” she said.
Smith agrees, saying that another similar process will have to be done in the fall to see how many homes can be found for the rabbits. “We never expected to capture all the rabbits in August. We wanted to make a reasonable impact in August, particularly around the student residence areas,” he said. “I think we always understood we’d have to come back in November or December to reach our target.”
Comment: The lives of these rabbits matter. The Rabbit Advocacy Group would like to thank all those who are working toward the common goal of sparing their lives. We are working to effect change for the voiceless and vulnerable in society, our animal friends.
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