Rabbit Advocacy Animal Matters
Surrey Now: The Surrey SPCA is urging people to think before they buy that little white Easter bunny
Curb that bunny urge
The Surrey SPCA is urging people to think before they buy that little white Easter bunny. "People who buy rabbits as Easter gifts don't realize that they're a big responsibility," said Surrey SPCA manager Tanya Firmage. Easter rabbits often end up in animal shelters - which are already crowded with unwanted bunnies - because their owners no longer want them, said Firmage. "That's part of the misconception. People think it's going to be a short-term pet. They don't give it enough thought or realize rabbits can live for 10 years."
Firmage said SPCAs throughout the Lower Mainland are already full of rabbits that need to be adopted. "We are almost always filled to capacity with rabbits. If people are really determined to get one, I really would recommend they come look at a shelter and adopt one from there."
Aleck Jordan-Knox, supervisor of the Petland at 19475 Fraser Hwy., said the demand for rabbits increases dramatically this time of year. "A lot of people want the rabbits just because it's Easter. If we wanted to, we could sell rabbits left right and centre." Many of the customers looking for rabbits are teens, but Jordan-Knox says he only sells to families who have "carefully considered" the decision. "We actually try to push people away from it as much as possible."
First rabbits are product at the SPCA's partner, Petcetera, and then they are product at SPCAs
While Surrey SPCA manager Tanya Firmage is "urging people to think before they buy that little white Easter bunny" the BC SPCA itself is partnering with Petcetera, "Canada's leading pet superstore chain," a chain that has rabbits on sale just in time for Easter. During today's half hour visit (Good Friday) to the Rupert/Grandview outlet there were eight rabbits on display and several customers considering a purchase.
Rabbits are the innocent victims of Easter, carelessly bought as a child’s gift, and then discarded when the novelty has worn off. Sadly, many of these bunnies will end up neglected, injured, or abused before being abandoned. Richmond Nature Park and the surrounding areas are home to many such rabbits. Staff informed the public that these pet rabbits turned loose are considered wildlife and as such, it’s illegal to feed them. Meanwhile the SPCA says they don’t deal with wildlife. I don’t know at what point a Holland Lop or any one of the other domestic breeds becomes “wildlife” but it’s definitely not overnight. We are working to stop misconceptions about rabbits. Carmina Gooch: firstname.lastname@example.org
Frustration has driven East Richmond residents to hop to city council this week. However, procedural red tape prevented them from delivering their hare-raising message to councillors.
East Richmond residents along Jack Bell Drive are upset they've received no word from either the city or school board about the growing population of rabbits in their neighbourhood. To make their point, they captured "George" and brought him to city hall Monday. But they were unable to get their issue on the council agenda.
"The city clerk's office told us you just can't come in here and talk about anything," said Heather Melidones. She was told delegations to council must apply in writing, then wait for their issue's acceptance, before getting permission to appear before council. In the meantime, "George has been safely released at the end of No. 5 Road with all the other bunnies," Melidones said.
The residents have been overrun with the lop-eared rodents residing in the parklands of Cambie secondary, McNeely elementary and King George Park.
Since news of the rabbit invasion was reported several weeks ago, and despite promises from the city and school board the issue would be dealt with, Melidones said she's heard nothing from either level of government. She's also followed up with the SPCA as the school district said it would work with that agency to bring the problem under control. That hasn't happened," she said. "The SPCA told me they neither have the funding nor the authority to deal with rabbits."
But the school district's John Harrison said that agency did try to do something to bring the east Richmond rabbit population under control. "We hired a fellow who's out there trying to get them," he said. "It appears those rabbits have moved on and into the neighbourhood ... If they're not there anymore, we've taken care of our responsibility." But Melidones sees it as something else. "They just keep passing the buck from one person to the next," she said.
The bunnies may be cute, but it's what comes with them that has folks around Richmond worried.
Rats, and lots of them, are the byproduct of the public's well-intentioned actions of feeding the feral rabbits just off Steveston Highway, particularly by the Richmond Nature Park. Neighbours in the rural area have gone so far as to post signs warning people not to indulge the rodents, whether cuddly or creepy. And on December 20, 2005 another headline from the same newspaper likened Richmond to “a giant bunny park”. (rabbits are lagomorphs, not rodents)
Comment: Do not buy from a breeder when so many rabbits are homeless and countless others are put down by “humane” societies, the SPCA, or pounds. These creatures cannot mobilize and speak for themselves, so it’s up to us to make responsible and ethical decisions. If you’re sure a rabbit is right for you, go to a shelter, a rescue group, online, or to an auction and save a rabbit’s life.
We’ve been asked many times what breeders do with older rabbits that can’t breed anymore and bring in the almighty dollar. It depends on the breeder but many callously kill off their bucks and does by methods such as snapping their necks, drowning, and other methods that result in suffering and cruelty. Some are discarded into the wild, while others are sold for meat or as pet stock. If the breeder decides to keep any of their ‘stock,’ the animal will probably languish in a tiny wire cage, with absolutely no quality of life or any freedom.