Rabbit Advocacy Animal Matters
Surrey SPCA Animal Learning Centre
The Surrey SPCA's youth program:
Previous communications to the BC SPCA by those from within, and outside of the agency indicate the restructuring of the Animal Learning Centre's Youth Program was not without a great deal of friction and division. In 2004 staff hours were reduced as were the times of operation. More emphasis was to be placed on going into the communities and developing school programs. Meanwhile, staff was also instructed to reduce the number of rabbits and small critters being held at the Centre. Today, as the restructuring continues, the hours have been further decreased with adoption and viewing hours being held on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday from 3-6 pm and Saturday from 10 until noon. On visits over the last several months the declining use and deterioration of the property was readily apparent. The once popular "Bottles for Bunnies" that raised money for the spaying and neutering of rabbits looks all but abandoned and the rabbits for adoption in the 'bunny barn' are kept caged, and in virtual isolation. Some sit for months on end with little human contact or exercise. I hardly call this adequate care or an educational model on which humane standards can be based. What message is this sending to the children? How can the rabbits possibly find new homes if the place is open only 11 hours per week? There are rabbits in the admitting facility but they too are relegated only a bit of space in the back of the cat room. This branch has a reputation for putting down its surplus of rabbits or in handing them off to other individuals or groups, who in turn bear the financial costs and tasks of rehoming them. I hope that in the near future the manager, Tanya Firmage, is able to remedy the existing circumstances and that the BC SPCA will direct some additional resources specific to rabbit welfare and advocacy.
Below are some pictures of the Animal Learning Centre taken on two separate occasions, once in February and then again in March.
Comment: One of the many letters sent to the BC SPCA (below) and to Surrey Council. Ms. Firmage quit working for the SPCA in June, 2006, and was replaced by an interim manager before Janice Levers was hired. She abruptly resigned in October, 2008.
April 2, 2005
To: Craig Daniell
Re: Rabbits--Killing for Space
I have just had a telephone conversation with a staff member at the Surrey SPCA. I was told that if I was to bring in a couple of stray rabbits they would be held for six days, and after that the likelihood of them being killed was exceedingly high. There is space allocated for only a minimal number, there is virtually no call for rabbits after about six months of age, and yet people constantly turn in their unwanted pet rabbits. To accept and then kill them is not animal welfare.
Mr. Daniell, it has been no secret that multitudes of healthy rabbits have, and continue to be killed for lack of space. How can you say otherwise?
Feral colonies are increasing, Petcetera and other retailers have an endless supply, and despite growing demands from society that these issues be addressed, rabbits remain overlooked by your organization.
Now too, the Youth Program has undergone "restructuring", the previous staff (except one) has been let go, and most volunteers have left. The hours of operation at the centre has been reduced, and after the nine rabbits housed on site at the moment are no longer, there will probably be only "two demonstration animals."
Can you please tell me how you are committing to the welfare and advocacy of rabbits? What, too, are your plans for educating the young people and the community in regards to this matter?
cc: Mary Lou Trouman