Rabbit Advocacy Animal Matters

 

Misery of online trade in rabbits 

2011 January 21 By Xu Chi shanghaidaily.com  

RESIDENTS looking to buy a cute pet bunny online for the Chinese Year of the Rabbit are ending up with a dead animal in a box, after dealing with unscrupulous companies.

Huge numbers of live rabbits had been listed as hot "items" for sale on the country's leading e-commerce platforms as the 2011 Chinese lunar New Year approaches. But many animals dispatched illegally arrive frozen or suffocated after taking several days to reach customers.

Deliveries have been delayed by labor shortages among couriers - as staff leave for the Spring Festival - and bad weather, with fatal consequences for the pets. And to make customers' misery complete, some vendors will not provide a refund unless the dead rabbit is returned to them - even though it is illegal to do this.

On leading e-commerce platform Taobao.com, one online vendor has sold 89 rabbits in the past week at 30 yuan (US$4.5) each. But according to customer comments, many pets died in transit or shortly after arrival.

The platform showed more than 600 online vendors selling pet rabbits, with prices ranging from 15 to 2,000 yuan for some American breeds. But with some deliveries taking five days, it is almost impossible for the animals to survive.

Their odds are reduced even further through rough handling by transport workers, many who don't realize they are dealing with live animals as packages are often labelled "Fragile: Glass" in a bid to avoid security checks.

"Chinese law bans the transport of living animals without a certificate of quarantine," said Zhang Jun, an official with leading courier company, Shentong Express. But Zhang said though Shentong would not get involved in the business, some small couriers run the risk due to the profits of offer. Workers with those companies could be unlicensed, he said.

One Beijing-based rabbit vendor told Shanghai Daily that it had stopped online trading to other cities and provinces because too many rabbits died in transit. But other vendors have now figured out a way to protect their profits despite the high mortality rate: they insist customers must send back the dead rabbits to get a refund.

Regulations forbid dead animals being sent in this way, leading some customers to complain that it's impossible to get a refund.  Taobao officials appealed to rabbit vendors to ensure that animals are transported in the correct manner to customers.

Comment: The Shanghai Daily warned that there are not enough veterinarians in China who are capable of treating rabbits, especially with the current high demand. Most people do not know how to properly care for these little animals. Hundreds of rabbits were abandoned during the Year of the Rabbit in 1999 and officials worry they will see the same problem in 2011. Don’t impulse buy – the consequences are deadly.  

Greed, selfishness, stupidity, an uncaring attitude, an ethical void permeates all society – whatever our reasoning or excuses, innocent creatures like rabbits suffer the consequences of our actions. 

We must take a good honest look at ourselves if this world is to become any better. As the self-appointed dominant species, we recklessly plunder and destroy all life forms, without rhyme or reason.  Mark Twain got it right.

I have been studying the traits and dispositions of the lower animals (so-called), and contrasting them with the traits and dispositions of man.  I find the result humiliating to me.  For it obliges me to renounce my allegiance to the Darwinian theory of the Ascent of Man from the Lower Animals; since it now seems plain to me that the theory ought to be vacated in favor of a new and truer one, this new and truer one to be named the Descent of Man from the Higher Animals.

Why I’m glad the Year of the Rabbit is coming to an end

January 18, 2012

New York Daily News - Natalie Reeves, Reeves is an attorney and founder of Big Apple Bunnies, a rabbit advocacy group.

On Sunday, the Year of the Rabbit under the Chinese zodiac ends — and not a day too soon. For while the Chinese associate rabbits with good luck, the rabbits themselves are the unluckiest of popular pets. Rabbits are the only pet in America that we also hunt, eat and wear on a regular basis. And this honorary rabbit year led fortune seekers to breed and then abandon or kill more rabbits than ever before.

Open the Neiman Marcus catalogue and feast your eyes on page after page of products made of dead rabbits, from fur capelets to Davy Crockett-like hats. These are not bunny slippers.

World Vision’s catalogue also displays pictures of adorable bunnies, one of which bears a strong resemblance to Goldie, the sweet lop rabbit sitting in my lap. This catalogue — dedicated to helping families in the developing world — describes rabbits as “blessings that really multiply” and encourages readers to order them so they can be fed to children.

Somehow, rabbit killing has crept into mainstream America. National news stories have labeled rabbits as the “new chickens”; one even described a “rabbit-killing seminar” held in a parking lot behind a Brooklyn restaurant. Along the campaign trail, Mitt Romney has bragged about killing rabbits, presumably as a way to scare up votes among grizzly moms and dads.

Rabbits are so undervalued that the Royal Shakespeare Company planned to behead them on stage for entertainment last summer. As part of the Lincoln Center Festival in New York, the company planned a production of “As You Like It” that would feature an actor skinning and beheading dead rabbits. Disgusted rabbit lovers bombarded Lincoln Center with hate mail and succeeded in getting the scene dropped from the New York production.

What’s shocking is that animal welfare organizations — which usually focus on dogs and cats, exotic wildlife or farm animals — have largely ignored the barbarism toward rabbits. Even the rabbit-equivalent of the American Kennel Club, the American Rabbit Breeders Association, advocates killing rabbits and helps breeders by providing a list of rabbit meat processors on its website.

Sometimes people who know I live in Manhattan are surprised that I live with four bunnies, all adopted from shelters. They shouldn’t be. My rabbits run to greet me at the door when I get home, just as a dog would, and they are litter-box trained like cats.

They are intelligent, funny and generally quiet (two of my bunnies snore, but at least they don’t bark). No wonder more than 6 million rabbits are kept as pets in this country — including by celebrities such as Clint Eastwood and Matt Lauer.

What rabbits really suffer from is a case of mislabeling. The federal Agriculture Department defines them as poultry, which must be because rabbits and chickens look so much alike. This means that rabbits do not even have the meager safeguards, such as the requirement that the animal being slaughtered be rendered insensible to pain before it is killed, that are in the Humane Slaughter Act.

All is not bleak. By and large, Americans seem uncomfortable with the notion of eating bunnies. Even with more than 8 million rabbits eaten each year in the U.S. and more than 800 million eaten each year globally, rabbits are still killed in much smaller numbers than other farm animals are.

As far as I’m concerned, no killing of a rabbit is excusable. Rabbits deserve the same protections afforded dogs and cats. Until that happens, rabbits should be part of the discussion by animal welfare organizations charged with protecting pets and farm animals. A dead rabbit should not be a Fashion Week accessory, political prop, good-luck charm — or a meal.

Please, bring on the Year of the Dragon.

Comment: Well written and all too true. Rabbits deserve so much more.