Rabbit Advocacy Animal Matters

 

Stick, not carrot, for SPCA rabbits

The Editor, Surrey Now, Sept 2004

The 2003 fall issue of the SPCA's Animal Sense magazine states that the B.C. SPCA "has dramatically invested in raising the level of animal care and furthering the cause of animal welfare in British Columbia." Not so for the rodents and rabbits. In fact, nothing is being done despite years of promises. Perceived as "starter pets" for children, used as educational tools in classrooms, kept in cages or forgotten in the backyard, and then "dumped" because they didn't live up to expectations, these animals are ignored and overlooked by those who purport "to speak for those who cannot speak for themselves."

In Surrey, management reduced the number of rabbits allotted floor space to three, and since that announcement this year it has further reduced the numbers to three small animals of any kind. The Animal Learning Centre, which previously housed a number of rabbits and rodents and found homes for them, has been undergoing "restructuring." The staff hours have been decreased and they have been given orders to spend more time in communities doing education. There is now little time for "hands-on" and orders from management are not to bring any more rabbits into the ALC.

There were offers from the community and rabbit rescuers volunteering assistance but this proved futile. In fact, the successful "Bottles for Bunnies" has been terminated on the premises because SPCA management wanted the funds to go into general revenue rather than continue to be applied directly to the spaying and neutering of rabbits. It is now being handled off the premises by those individuals who wish to see the rabbits as direct recipients of the fundraising.

In Richmond management has said that a maximum of six rabbits can be housed and the excess killed.

The Burnaby SPCA is considering transferring rabbits to the overcrowded Vancouver SPCA and the threat of euthanasia is constant. Volunteers are always scrambling to get the rabbits into good homes before the ultimatum is given. The surplus far exceeds the demand, and the annual Easter fallout shows no sign of stopping.

As to sick, old, or otherwise not easily adoptable rabbits, they stand little chance unless there is outside intervention.

Unregulated breeding, impulse buying, owner surrenders and routine abandonment remain a constant in the revolving cycle of unwanted pets.

What efforts and initiatives are being exercised by the B.C. SPCA that would alleviate the senseless euthanasia of healthy animals, and demonstrate to the public that this organization is taking a proactive role in the welfare of rabbits? To date it's been private groups and individuals pressuring this society to raise the bar and move the animal agenda forward.

Carmina Gooch
North Vancouver

Published: Surrey Now Page 9, Edition Final
September 4, 2004

A letter to Bob Busch, Operations Manager, BC SPCA:

June 16, 2006

Rabbits at the Surrey SPCA 

Hello Bob, 

I continue to have concerns regarding the rabbits at the Surrey SPCA.  There is minimal space allocated for the rabbits in the cat room of the main building and because they do not adopt quickly, if at all, they are typically not spayed or neutered.  They are being sold for $20.00, with the onus then put on the "adopter" to have the bunny sterilized. Staff and volunteers have told me this, and because of my direct involvement/ volunteering and networking with animal welfare groups, I know this to be a fact as well.  

Additionally, care information pamphlets aren’t offered and to date a rabbit adoption counselor hasn’t been on hand.  Earlier this spring a family was considering two rabbits for their two children, and the kennel cards stated both were females.  When I turned each bunny over, one was an intact male!  One of the cat volunteers commented that it looked like a “growth, or something."  I then proceeded to discuss how to sex rabbits, and provided the prospective adopters with rabbit information, and my phone number.  Why is it that the SPCA isn't doing this?  What if the family had adopted the rabbits and put them together, as was the intentional plan?   

Surrey has always been, and continues to be a high volume branch, and due to the restructuring of the Animal Learning Centre, rabbits are rarely brought up from the admitting building anymore to be put up for potential adoption.  In fact, the rabbits currently there have been sitting for months on end.  In prior years, and when I was helping on a casual basis in 2000-2001 the "Bottles for Bunnies" program was very successful in that rabbits were routinely sterilized and adopted out. Many rodents were also placed.

In 2004 the restructuring changes demanded staff to spend more time in schools and communities doing education.  Subsequently, hours were cut as were the number of animals being permitted in the centre.  Offers and proposals from rescue groups and individuals to keep the centre open and running were rejected. Now, too, the bottles program has been totally discontinued, other than to include specified drives.  The implication is that the SPCAs bottom line is that monies spent on altering rabbits is a poor investment because of the low placement rate.      

It is a fact that rabbits everywhere are difficult to find good homes for, whether it be in private rescue, other shelters, or at other SPCA branches, such as Vancouver and Richmond.  There is little demand for adult rabbits as "pets" but as the leading animal welfare agency in BC, the SPCA ought to make certain that the "multiplying champion" isn't reproducing because he/ she had been "adopted" intact.  

Surrey routinely takes owner surrenders, and due to space reasons, rabbits are under steady threat of being put down for the simple reason that when new ones are admitted, they have to be put somewhere.  I currently have two rabbits from a group who were destined to be killed last year, both on separate occasions.    

The proliferation of unwanted rabbits is an ever- increasing problem so would like to know what action plans, either short or long term, that the BC SPCA has in mind to address this issue.  They do matter, and deserve the same attentions as do dogs and cats.  Have there been any further discussions or headway with Mr. Urbani, President of Petcetera, with respect to ending the sales of rabbits?  

Perhaps it would be best for the domestic rabbit if we move in the direction of not keeping them at all. 

I look forward to a response at your earliest convenience. 

Sincerely, 

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

The Rabbit Advocacy Group of BC networks with the Animal Advocates Society of BC, and as such, have crossposted information on the messageboard and on the rabbit page. 

Surrey SPCA Animal Learning Centre