Rabbit Advocacy Animal Matters


A few of the many letters

July 14, 2006

Mr. Urbani, (President of Petcetera)

Municipalities throughout the Lower Mainland and beyond have experienced population explosions of discarded "pet" rabbits. Most are bought through retail outlets, such as Petcetera, by uninformed consumers who, in a short time discover that these animals, for the most part, are unsuitable as pets. They have very specific needs, and as prey animals do not like being picked up or held. It is a great disservice to exploit them as suitable for children, and even worse, to suggest that living in a cage is appropriate. In fact, this is a cruel practice, which the public is increasingly recognizing.

I receive many phone calls and e-mails from frustrated and unhappy individuals and families wishing to relinquish their rabbit, and if I or other rescue groups are unable to take them, the rabbit is simply abandoned outdoors. There they are free to multiply, and as has been in the news recently, Richmond has an out-of-control situation which they are trying to address.

I urge you, as a business owner who says he is committed to help reduce pet overpopulation that you do the right thing, and stop selling rabbits! I know that most people would be supportive of this, and it would likely result in increased business. As it is now, many of those involved in the extensive animal welfare and advocacy networks, as well as others, choose to shop elsewhere.

Carmina Gooch, Director
Pacific Animal Foundation
Rabbit Advocacy Group of BC
North Vancouver

July 13, 2006

Dan Urbani,

As of today I am boycotting all further purchases at your stores. I am also encouraging other pet owners within my extensive network to do likewise. I am a pet owner and animal welfare volunteer.

The conditions in which your rabbits are currently held are appalling.

Rabbits need substantially larger holding areas than are currently provided. They should also be taken out of their cages daily to run as to prevent muscle atrophy. Furthermore, as social animals, they should be paired. Rabbits are intelligent creatures and will become depressed when inactive, isolated and restrained.

I have offered to volunteer and take them out of their cages. The response was that this is against storewide policy. There is a massive overpopulation of rabbits both in animal shelters and in the wild. Retail selling of rabbits contributes to this tragedy.

The 21st century demands corporate social responsibility.

Francine Drouin
North Vancouver, BC

January 10, 2007

Mr. Craig Daniell, (BC SPCA CEO)

As you are undoubtedly aware, a number of individuals and organizations continue to have serious concerns regarding the BC SPCA's business relationship with Petcetera.

What is particularly troubling to me is the fact that Mr. Urbani is still selling intact domestic rabbits. In my previous correspondence with you dating back to 2004 it was indicated that Mr. Urbani appeared to be open to the idea of using Petcetera facilities for the adoption of rabbits rather than the selling of these "pets". To date, the Vancouver SPCA's pilot project which began featuring adoptable rabbits in February of 2005 at the Rupert store in the PAWS program appears to have been discontinued rather than expanded. Yet baby rabbits supplied by breeders are routinely featured and sold throughout his retail outlets.

Can you please let me know if there is any immediate intimation from Mr. Urbani that rabbits will no longer be sold throughout his stores? At the time you stated that the SPCA was working toward achieving the goal "in the months ahead."

I would also like to point out that in a May 2005 press release the BC SPCA's Eileen Drever stated in part that "legitimate pet stores will be able to provide full details where their animals come from." Mr. Urbani has repeatedly not responded to e-mails regarding this matter nor has Mr. Busch been able to provide me with an answer.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Carmina Gooch, Director
Pets In Need Society
Founder and President,
Rabbit Advocacy Group of BC

March 15, 2006

Re Grandview-Rupert Petcetera

Mr. Urbani,

I went to this Petcetera on the weekend and saw that the aquariums along one wall which usually are stocked with assorted critters and rabbits were empty. Initially I was pleased but then one of the clerks let me know that they were being redone and that the smaller enclosures would be ready this week and restocked with hamsters and mice etc. There was uncertainty as to what was being done with the larger aquariums.

As a business owner I would like to suggest that instead of redoing the larger ones that they be removed entirely and the space be utilized for expanded product selection. As you well know there is a growing amount of public concern regarding the sale of pets and also that many people are choosing to buy their supplies from retailers who do not sell animals. I think you could get these customers back and also gain favourable publicity by doing so. Rather than spending time cleaning cages, staff could be promoting new lines of products and enhance customer service. As to rabbits, municipalities are experiencing an increased problem with the dumping of, (such as in Richmond) as well as mounting demand that they institute new and more restrictive bylaws as to the breeding and selling of all animals.

I hope you will take into consideration the above and that as a move in the right direction, rabbits will no longer be for sale in your retail outlets.

Terry Roberge, President
T.L. Roberge Trucking Ltd.

From: Animal Advocates
Cc: cdaniell@spca.bc.ca
Sent: Sunday, April 03, 2005 12:05 PM
Subject: Question: how can the SPCA claim to be concerned with the welfare of rabbits when it has a business relationship with Petcetera?

Dear Ms Troman and Members of the BC SPCA Board of Directors,

Your BC SPCA entered into a business partnership with Petcetera in 1997. The partnership was revealed as unethical from the very beginning. (Read Nick Read's Sun articles at: http://www.animaladvocates.com/petcetera/)

Your BC SPCA continues this business partnership with what is very likely the largest seller of rabbits in BC. At the same time, your BC SPCA urges people to not buy rabbits at Easter, for example. And at the same time, your BC SPCA, kills an untold number of rabbits a year.

Petceteras are used as free retail outlets for the selling of your dogs and cats. We have many reports of Petcetera staff selling dogs to very unsuitable people, and many reports of staff who are ignorant of dog behaviour and welfare being permitted to sell SPCA dogs. And to the best of our knowledge, there are no home checks made, so SPCA dogs may be being sold to be abused, neglected, kept in yards and on chains.

We urge you to discontinue your business partnership with Petcetera.

We look forward to your earliest reply,

Judith Stone, President,
Animal Advocates Society of BC
The AAS web mag:
The Watch Dog messageboard: http://animaladvocates.com/cgi-bin/newsroom.pl

(There was no reply of course.)

SPCA warns against impulse purchase of bunnies for pets

Friday, March 30, 2007 Richard Watts - Times Colonist 

The SPCA is putting out a warning to any parent planning to pass out live, pet bunnies this Easter — think very carefully.

Penny Stone, general manager for the Victoria SPCA, points out rabbits bite, they scratch and they kick. They are also cage animals. That means regular cleaning, a chore that soon bores most children. And rabbits live 10 to 15 years.  

“Rabbits aren’t really a good kid’s pet and people get them for their kids,” said Stone, whose shelter was housing 45 abandoned bunnies yesterday. She said people should keep in mind a rabbit is a natural “prey animal.” And that means the creature lives in a perpetual state of fear, always ready to lash out with its powerful hind legs. And while rabbits can, to some extent, be house-trained they are still a little messy. “They are a harder pet than a cat,” said Stone.

The bunny warning comes a time of year that sees unthinking parents buy them as Easter gifts for their children. All too often these animals are abandoned.

The University of Victoria and the Victoria General Hospital have been habitual dumping grounds for unwanted pet rabbits. Patty Pitts, UVic spokesman, also issued a plea from the university Friday: Please don’t abandon any unwanted bunnies on campus where they are already a problem the university expects to consider in the coming weeks.

Pitts said rabbits abandoned on campus fall prey to hawks, eagles and dogs whose owners let them run off leash despite warnings. They also routinely get run over by cars. “A pet rabbit does not live a happy life up here,” said Pitts.

Many pet stores, meanwhile, seem to be trying to get out of the bunny business, particularly around Easter when impulse buyers pick them up. Petcetera announced earlier this week it will no longer sell pet rabbits. Beginning in April, all Lower Mainland Petcetera stores will instead act as satellite adoption centres, in connection with the SPCA, to find homes for rescued rabbits. The program will be in place across B.C. by Sept. 1. Other Victoria pet stores are taking action on their own.

Allan Larkins, general manager of Creatures Great and Small, 770 Bay St., said he won’t sell rabbits at Easter time, simply to avoid the impulse buyer. “It’s not ethical. It’s not what we should be doing as a pet store,” said Larkin.

Comment:  It’s totally inappropriate and out of touch for an animal welfare organization like the SPCA to call rabbits “cage animals.”  What about the 5 Freedoms?  For shame!      

March 31, 2007

The Times Colonist

Our company has been supporting local animal welfare and advocacy groups for many years, and was pleased to sponsor Pets In Need Society, the Rabbit Advocacy Group of BC, and Pacific Animal Foundation's Easter ad campaign to stop rabbit sales. Increased pressure on the BC SPCA and Petcetera to pay heed to the growing stresses on rescue groups and ecosystems caused by rabbit abandonment has resulted in a victory of sorts.

Now if only Petcetera would do the right thing and stop its sales of rabbits Canada-wide, and the BC SPCA would be proactive in its animal welfare programs.

Terry Roberge, President
T.L. Roberge Trucking Ltd.
North Vancouver, BC

March 31, 2007

The Times Colonist

While I am pleased that Petcetera will stop selling rabbits in BC stores I'd like to point out that years of outside pressure on both the BC SPCA and Petcetera forced this change of practice. As Petcetera was busy expanding its locations to become the McDonald’s of the pet industry, colonies of unwanted rabbits were springing up just as fast. And the BC SPCA certainly didn't appear to be doing any speaking on behalf of the bunnies. It's only now that the cycle of easy access and disposal has fully impacted communities across the province that there has been reaction.

So why wouldn’t Petcetera demonstrate real corporate social responsibility and now voluntarily end its sales of rabbits all across Canada? It would be the right ethical and business decision, a win-win for the rabbits and this pet retailer.

Carmina Gooch
North Vancouver

Petcetera breaks promise