Rabbit Advocacy Animal Matters


An article in the Richmond News on December 20, 2005 stated that a local rescue group was looking for homes for a number of rabbits given to them by the SPCA.  Over the years several groups and individuals have been taking rabbits out of SPCA branches in order to spare their lives. Following are posts from the AAS WatchDog.   

The question is how best to minimize the number of innocent lives lost in this never-ending cycle of disposal of cast-off pets By: Carmina Gooch on Friday, 30 December 2005

There has been some talk among those in the rabbit rescue network as to whether the number of rabbits that may have been under threat of being put to death by the Richmond SPCA is accurate and whether “euthanasia” is an option or necessity under certain circumstances. Unwanted pet rabbits are commonly dumped outdoors, and others find their way to rescue groups or to the SPCA. However, the surplus of these animals far exceeds the demand.

So, yet again the question is how best to minimize the number of innocent lives lost in this never-ending cycle of disposal of cast-off pets. To date there has been much discussion on this and related issues (unregulated breeding, ready availability, pet stores etc.) but the problem remains and little has changed. They are victims of our exploitation and are suffering the consequences.

“Change of the moral and legal status of the animal kingdom requires that people act individually and en masse on their own initiative. Prudent action is power.” .B. Suconik (author)

Is not each death equal to one life lost?
By: Maureen Collins on Saturday, 31 December 2005

Should the accuracy of the figure of rabbits that possibly could "have been euthanized if more were surrendered" count to any degree or is it a moot point? Is not each death equal to one life lost? What is troublesome is that killing healthy unwanted pets has become a standard in our society.

Human thought must radically evolve if there is to be any sort of future for other species, companion and otherwise.

Comment:  Richmond City Council unanimously awarded the animal shelter contract to the Richmond Animal Protection Society, effective February 1, 2007, following more than 20 years of contracting with the BC SPCA.  The contract was renewed for another 2 years in January, 2009.  

Animal shelter gets new contract

January 14, 2009 Matthew Hoekstra - Richmond Review

The Richmond Animal Protection Society is about to get some breathing room. A new two-year deal approved by city council Monday will give the group nearly double the cash it previously received for operating the city pound and handling daytime animal control services. “We’ve literally had to beg from friends. We’ve had to put in ourselves. Some staff even gave up paycheques to survive. It just means we will have enough to take care of all the basic needs for the animals,” said Carol Reichert, society president.

RAPS will now get $320,000 annually to operate the city-owned shelter at 12071 No. 5 Rd. Since 2007, it received $170,000 per year, based on a low-bid contract that swept out longtime operator the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

Through its fundraising campaigns, which included proceeds from its Granville Avenue thrift store, RAPS was able to pay for necessities, including supplies, veterinarian bills and salaries. Donations can now be used for shelter extras. “We have hopes of using our fundraising to make things a little more comfortable for the animals and do some extras.”

At Monday’s meeting, Coun. Bill McNulty raised an issue that’s been a thorn in the side of animal advocates across the city: the sale of animals that haven’t been spayed or neutered. After an impulse pet store purchase, some owners simply set their rabbit free at a neighbourhood park. “We haven’t come to the root of the problem that originates when people buy the pet,” said McNulty. “It’s time to examine this.” McNulty said the city’s bylaw department will be working on the file this year.

It was good news for Reichert, who still sees well-meaning people picking up rabbits from local parks and dropping them off at the shelter. We’ve got rabbit cages everywhere,” she said.

Reichert said RAPS is embarking on a public program to spay and neuter animals at a subsidized cost. In the meantime, the shelter has plenty of animals available for adoption. For more information, call 604-275-2036. 

1 Comment  Carmina (Carmina) 5 hours ago, about noon, January 15, 2009

Thanks to council for giving additional finances to RAPS. Now, after years of talking about new bylaws that would prohibit the sales of unaltered rabbits, let's hope there's action. Baby rabbits are generally purchased on impulse from pet stores and usually end up unwanted after only a few months. Most are dumped outdoors without a second thought. Rabbit Advocacy Group of BC 

January 14, 2009 

From: Rabbit Advocacy Group of BC
To: Mayor Brodie and Council
Cc: City Clerk
Re: Stopping sales of intact rabbits 

Dear Mayor Brodie and Council, 

The Rabbit Advocacy Group of BC is asking that you establish bylaws that would prohibit the sale and adoption of unsterilized rabbits. 

We receive many calls from people who have bought baby bunnies on impulse from pet stores, only to decide several months later, that they don't want them.  As you probably know, rescue groups and humane societies are always at over-capacity, and adult rabbits are difficult to find good homes for.  The supply far exceeds the demand. 

Many 'owners' make the decision to release their rabbits into the environment, and in recent years municipalities throughout B.C., Richmond included, have been faced with dealing with the consequences of rabbit colonies.  Rabbits had multiplied into the thousands south of Steveston Highway and north of Westminster Highway, around the Nature Park, upsetting farmers and forcing the City to address the situation.

Multitudes of rabbits are still found in and around Minoru Park and City Hall.  Just yesterday we were contacted by a woman who had captured two injured ones, but couldn't afford to bring them to a vet, nor could she keep them.  Richmond Animal Protection Society (RAPS) is full, and adoptions have ground to a standstill.  

Yet pet stores, like PJ's on Number 3 Road, are selling baby rabbits, promoting them as great first pets for children, and as requiring "minimal care and space."  This is scandalous, untrue, and irresponsible.  These are live, sentient beings who are dependent upon us to provide quality care and a commitment for their lifetime.  

While Petcetera is not selling unsterilized rabbits in Lower Mainland stores, there is nothing that would prevent Mr. Urbani, President and CEO from doing so.  Just recently the City of Kelowna passed a bylaw that prohibits the sale or adoption of rabbits that have not been spayed or neutered, yet Petcetera was found in violation of the regulation.  

Proactive measures are far less costly than reactive ones, and killing surplus pets in today's society is not only inhumane, it's unacceptable.  The irresponsible breeding and selling for profit must stop.  Therefore, we respectfully ask that the City of Richmond demonstrate leadership by taking the progressive step of enacting new bylaws that would prohibit the sale or adoption of unsterilized rabbits. 

We look forward to hearing from you regarding this matter. 


Carmina Gooch, President
Rabbit Advocacy Group of BC
North Vancouver

The response:

Dear Ms. Gooch:

This is to acknowledge your email to the Mayor and Councillors in connection with the sale of rabbits in Richmond pet stores, a copy of which has been forwarded to the members of City Council and to City staff for information.

In addition, your message has been forwarded to Wayne Mercer, Manager, Community Bylaws for response.  If you have any further questions or concerns at this time, please call Mr. Mercer at 604-247-4601.

Thank you for taking the time to make your concerns known to Council.

Yours truly, Gail Johnson
Gail Johnson, Manager, Legislative Services City Clerk's Office City of Richmond 604 276-4006

Comment:  Please keep phoning and sending your letters to the City of Richmond in order to keep the pressure on to create new bylaws that would protect rabbits (and other critters) from impulse buyers.

February 2010 update: City Council voted unanimously to ban sales of rabbits in pet stores, despite opposition from the pet industry and the local stores selling these animals. Unscrupulous breeders, dealers, and others involved in the pet trade are everywhere - on the Internet, selling through newspapers, auctions, at fairs, anywhere, really. Be careful.    


September 2012 Kelowna Bylaws

August 24, 2012 Rescuers offer ailing rabbits hope

March 7, 2014 Carol Reichert, founder of RAPS, and manager of the city’s animal shelter located at 12071 No. 5 Road, has suddenly tendered her resignation. She noted that she was scheduled to retire in six weeks, and the society’s contract with the City of Richmond expires in 10 months. RAPS took charge of the shelter February 1, 2007, after the SPCA lost its contract.

March is Adopt A Rescued Rabbit at RAPS. Have a visit! Many are waiting for that special forever home.

April 22, 2015 Operating daily — in Richmond's no-kill zone          Praise for The Rabbit Rescuers

Comment: Rabbit Advocacy supports this shelter and all the good work it does. Many thanks to the rabbit volunteers who devote their time to these special little critters. You know who you are!

January 7, 2016 The Richmond Animal Protection Society has hired a new CEO, Eyal Lichtmann, after being without one for two years. Lichtmann has no animal welfare experience but has made “bold promises to modernize and grow the non-profit organization.” Late last year two recently elected board members resigned, citing frustrations with its operations and “ineffectiveness.” Several staff also left around the same time. 

The City is in desperate need of a new custom-built facility. City spokesperson, Ted Townsend, said that is dependent “upon the city’s prioritization of its capital needs for the next phase of development.” Townsend said that prioritization will be up for council review and approval “early this year.”  

The current two-year contract with the city expires at the end of January 2017.

January 31, 2017 The City of Richmond was contacted as to the status of the contract and was advised by Kerry Gillis, who said that they're in long-term negotiations, with a decision expected sometime in June of this year. It appears that RAPS has retained the contract and has officially changed its name to the Regional Animal Protection Society.

January 1, 2018 While some areas in Richmond, including Jacombs Rd, around the Auto Mall and Ikea, continue to see fluctuating populations of domestic rabbits and their offspring, the City remains relatively silent on the matter. City of Richmond Animal Regulations.

April 11, 2018 Nearly two weeks ago two young deceased feral rabbits were found outside Richmond’s animal shelter on No. 5 Rd. They were diagnosed with the highly contagious rabbit hemorrhagic disease (RHDV-2) and now all 66 of the facility’s adoptable rabbits will be killed. It’s heart-rending.

May 16, 2018 The Rabbit Advocacy Group contacted the City of Richmond’s Mayor and Council, as well as other departments, regarding an article in the Richmond News referring to the issue of abandoned domestic rabbits as an ‘animal rights crisis.’  

Environmental liaison councillor Carol Day didn’t think any action would be taken on the matter even in light of the RHD-2 virus and if the rabbits died, well, that’s ‘nature’s way.’  What a reckless and thoughtless statement. Dead carcasses should always be removed in a prompt manner for obvious reasons. With this virus, it is vitally important that the transmission and spread from infected rabbits be curtailed.  

Ted Townsend, city spokesperson, articulated: “The City’s approach is to educate the public and enforce civic bylaws related to the release and feeding of rabbits, which are prohibited.”  Clearly, that hasn’t worked. In 2006, the headline from The Province read: The Richmond rabbit epidemic is no surprise. Today, the situation remains the same, if not worse.  

As well, the dilapidated animal shelter is a disgrace to the community. It’s time for new ideas and a new approach. There is a community meeting on May 23rd and a civic election on October 20th of this year. (Mayor Brodie was re-elected)

January 23, 2019 Animal shelter decision delayed by Richmond council. The two larger options increase the capacity to care for animals – 16 dogs, 36 cats, eight rabbits & 10-12 small animals. More than 800 animals come through the shelter annually, inc. companion animals, wildlife & small farm animals. https://www.richmond-news.com/news/animal-shelter-decision-delayed-by-richmond-council-1.23610084

Discarded rabbits and their offspring continue to be seen and rescued in Richmond, including from around Ikea, No. 2 Rd. Bridge, and the Richmond Auto Mall. We need new ideas, policies, and a commitment to working together on solutions to help our rabbit friends.

Contact the City of Richmond https://www.richmond.ca/cityhall/overview.htm

Read more: Rabbit Cruelty in Richmond; Minoru Park & Auto Mall rescue efforts; FLNRO position; relocation

Feral rabbits becoming a 'problem' in Powell River