Rabbit Advocacy Animal Matters


BC SPCA March Newsletter (03/27/08)

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.

Petcetera to stop selling bunnies before Easter

Fiona Anderson, Vancouver Sun
Wednesday, March 28, 2007

One of British Columbia's biggest pet stores is celebrating Easter by phasing out the sale of rabbits, which sell like hot cross buns at this time of year but often end up without a bed at the inn by Christmas.

Vancouver-based Petcetera said it would no longer sell rabbits in its 11 Lower Mainland stores because of concerns raised by the British Columbia Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals that there were too many rabbits in shelters, Petcetera's vice-president Richard Kaga said in an interview.

So starting next week, Petcetera will sell off its rabbit inventory in the Lower Mainland and start finding homes for abandoned rabbits through its in-store adoption centres.

Nancy Wheaton, manager of Petcetera store at Rupert and Grandview, with a cute bunny. The chain is going to stop selling rabbits because so many people abandon them.

Rabbits will still be sold in Petcetera's other 34 stores across Canada where no concerns about abandoned rabbits have been raised, Kaga said.

Petcetera's decision to stop selling rabbits was welcome news to Olga Betts, president of Vancouver Rabbit Rescue & Advocacy which has about 45 abandoned rabbits in its care, many in foster homes.

People think bunnies are cute presents so they buy one, Betts said. "And they don't have any clue how to look after it and then they're bored with it after a few months and they throw it out in the park," Betts said.

And rabbits breed every month starting at the age of five months, so a few rabbits can turn into thousands very quickly, she said. "Impulse buying of baby rabbits in pet stores causes huge problems for the rabbits and the community," Betts said.

So Petcetera's decision is a "real breakthrough," she said.

"We're hoping other pet stores will follow [Petcetera's] lead so they can be a solution rather than a problem," Betts added.

Debra Probert, executive director of the Vancouver Humane Society called Petcetera's decision "really, really good news."

People don't understand that rabbits need a lot of attention, Probert said. "They're very social. They're very intelligent. They need companionship and intelligent stimulation," Probert said.

"It's cruel that people buy them and just put them in a cage outside or a cage in the garage and just ignore them," she said. "So we're really pleased [Petcetera has] decided not to sell them."

Since it opened its first store in Vancouver in 1997, Petcetera has provided satellite adoption centres for cats and dogs in each of its stores.

"There is an overabundance of dogs and cats in particular that can't find homes and if they can't find homes over time they're put down by groups like the BCSPCA because they have no choice," Kaga said.

Kaga believes Petcetera's decision not to sell cats or dogs, and now rabbits, is not only socially responsible but also good business.

"We felt that by not getting into [selling cats and dogs] in the long run we'd probably be better off," Kaga said. "Because our customers would understand that we are a responsible pet retailer and that would go a long way to gain the kind of confidence that all retailers want to gain from a loyal customer."

April 6, 2007

To Whom It May Concern:

Kindly let me know why your stores in the lower mainland of BC have an agreement with the BC SPCA that they will no longer sell bunnies, yet all the other stores are still continuing to sell them.

The cruelty that occurs when bunnies are bought on impulse and then thrown away needs to be recognized and ceased immediately, not in the future.

I will no longer shop at any Petcetera store unless this practice ends now, and am advising my friends and acquaintences to do likewise.

Diane Esther.

Date: Friday, 6 April 2007 

With 17 stores in BC inclusive of 11 in the Lower Mainland the number of baby rabbits bought on impulse is staggering. It's kept the breeders in business and condemned thousands upon thousands of these "pets" to a miserable existence. Petcetera could easily make the right decision and stop its sales not only in BC but across Canada as well. If enough concerns are raised, and the bottom line impacted, there would be change.  Carmina Gooch 

Date: Thursday, 29 March 2007

Someone from Petcetera's management, interviewed on CBC radio's news this morning about Petcetera's decision to stop selling rabbits, said that Petcetera quickly agreed when the SPCA raised the issue with the company.

Does that mean that in spite of years of the SPCA killing many of the soon-unwanted rabbits that Petcetera sold, the SPCA only just asked Petcetera to stop selling them?

Our list of documents for discovery in the lawsuit for defamation brought against AAS in 2004 (http://www.animaladvocates.com/lawsuit/ ), contains 50 mentions of Petcetera (so far). Nicholas Read of the Sun, in a series of articles (“SPCA wrong to associate with new store”: Petcetera/SPCA million dollar deal; “Pet store breaks its humane-sale promise”; and others) shows the SPCA/Petcetera business relationship goes back ten years.

For rabbit rescuers, the process was anything but quick. Olga Betts, quoted in Anderson's article, worked very hard for several years, doing what is called "pulling" rabbits out of Lower Mainland SPCAs that were scheduled to be killed.

Carmina Gooch did the same, but she did more than help lower the SPCA's expenses and destruction figures; she wrote letter after letter for years - to the SPCA, to Petcetera, and to the newspapers, pointing out the ethical conflict of the SPCA's business partnership with a store that sold rabbits some of which the SPCA later killed. Carmina also took photos of rabbits at various SPCAs and Petcetera. And she openly posted all her information on the only forum that provided a voice for the "other side of the story" -- the AAS website.

Carmina also kept a file of all the information that the rabbit rescuers emailed to her about the difficulty of rescuing rabbits from the SPCA.

For decades people quietly saved rabbits from the SPCA, yet nothing changed. The conclusion we draw is that it is Carmina's letters and documentation, combined with access to a public forum, that was effective in making Petcetera stop selling rabbits.

Further proof? Petcetera is not going to stop selling rabbits in its stores in other provinces. SPCAs in all the other provinces kill rabbits too, so it follows that SPCAs killing cast-off rabbits can't be the reason Petcetera will stop selling rabbits in BC. Something in BC must be different. We suspect it is the extremely vocal and active combination of people like Carmina Gooch and the freedom of speech that the internet provides.

The SPCA's press release says, "The BC SPCA rescues more than 1,700 rabbits every year in its 36 branches across BC."

Because the SPCA does not say it has killed any of the 1700 "rescued" rabbits, readers might think that not one rabbit has been killed by the SPCA because, afterall, you can't use the word "rescue" to mean "kill" -- can you?

It seems you can if you are the SPCA. Not one word in that press release even hints about the rabbits it has killed or about all the rabbit groups that "rescued" some of those 1700 rabbits from the SPCA!

Of course this announcement is good news. But what is less than comforting is the years of struggle it took. Why wasn't the plain immorality of this partnership corrected by the SPCA long ago? An SPCA employee said recently that it is a shame that the SPCA only reacts to bad publicity. We don't often find ourselves in agreement with SPCA employees, but we have a long list of humane policy changes made only after bad publicity reached a tipping point which prove that statement.

Judy Stone, Animal Advocates Society

Petcetera breaks promise

No sales or adoptions of unaltered rabbits in Kelowna but Petcetera contravenes new bylaw