Rabbit Advocacy Animal Matters


Why was Peter Rabbit killed by the SPCA?

From the AAS Watchdog Messageboard:  

Posted By: Carmina Gooch
Date: Sunday, 24 September 2006, at 7:07 a.m.

Peter Rabbit

On September 13, a Dutch-breed rabbit named "Peter", who was at the Vancouver SPCA and available for rehoming was "put down." Evidently this rabbit bit somebody who was unfamiliar and inexperienced in rabbit care. As there are a number of volunteers, including a House Rabbit Society representative and an SPCA "approved rescue" group whom management could have consulted with, why such a hasty decision? Couldn't the rabbit have been transferred out and into a foster home? And isn't there training and protocol for those who handle animals?

Often animals arrive from less than ideal circumstances, traumatized, mistreated, and so forth, and to be further stressed in an unfamiliar environment, without being given an allotted minimum daily time for exercise outside the cage, it should be expected that pre-existing conditions will worsen or new ones develop. Rabbits are prey animals and if they are provoked or feel threatened will do what comes naturally in order to protect themselves. It's a fear based aggression. So how can one make the leap that the rabbit is "vicious," so that must translate to "dangerous," and that could be a "threat" to humans, and that "threat" must be eliminated? It appears that the conclusion reached had more to do with the possibility of liability rather than that of animal welfare. Surely a rabbit with issues doesn't pose the same risk, for example, as an aggressive dog.

In my many years of rabbit rescue I have found that those with "aggressive" tendencies will calm down once they are in a stable environment, are shown kindness, and settle into a routine. It does take time and in the case of Peter rabbit, there were alternatives and help available, yet these options weren't utilized. Peter rabbit was made to pay the price.

It has been said that the whole issue of human dominance over other species and our relationship with animals as pets is beset with misery, and that's putting it mildly.

"In studying the traits and dispositions of the so-called lower animals, and contrasting them with man's, I find the result humiliating."
— Mark Twain, American author and humourist, 1835 - 1910

"The wild, cruel beast is not behind the bars of the cage. He is in front of it."
— Dr Axel Munthe, Swedish physician, psychiatrist and author, 1857 - 1949

To everyone who had a part in killing Peter Rabbit...

Posted By: Maureen Collins
Date: Monday, 25 September 2006, at 4:26 p.m.

The unnecessary death of the rabbit, "Peter", has left me dumfounded. This little fellow deserved compassion, and I'm sure, would have been fine outside of the SPCA if he had just been given a chance. His behaviour was only natural and to be condemned to death is an injustice of the worst kind. For all those who had a part in this, whether it be the decision-makers, the person that actually did it, or anybody who could have prevented it, I hope you are all able to live with yourselves.

Only speaking out has ever brought about change

Posted By: Carmina Gooch
Date: Tuesday, 26 September 2006, at 7:53 a.m.

People keep silent about issues they know are morally wrong for a number of reasons. In the case of the SPCA, some feel they can bring about change from working within, others fear they may lose their job, and others believe that if they weren’t there, it would be far worse for the animals. Then there are those who are there out of self-interest and are benefiting from some sort of mutually acceptable arrangement.

But how long can one keep silent about needless killing that is rationalized on a number of grounds? Of course there is pressure to keep quiet, and toe the line, and there can be consequences to challenging the status quo. It takes courage and strength of character to be a lone voice, or that of a minority, but sooner or later those voices will be heard. It's the culmination of many small steps that will determine the future, and that should be motivation enough to stop and say, enough is enough, today is the day I'll do the right thing. I'm going to be that voice for the animals I profess to care so deeply about.

"I am only one, but still I am one. I cannot do everything, but still I can do something; and because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do something I can do.”

Edward Everett Hale 1822-1909
American Author, Clergyman

Comment: The Rabbit Advocacy Group of BC's information is often posted on the Animal Advocates Society of BC website.

To kill or not to kill - the debate in BC, SPCA kills Peter Rabbit

Read more: How is the BC SPCA faring?; some letters; Bill 24 - new changes to PCA Act; FIRB; Ontario revises; 2019 OSPCA & Edmonton Humane Society end animal law enforcement