Rabbit Advocacy Animal Matters


The City of Kelowna has responded to concerns regarding the rabbit stomping incident by saying that:  

As of September 30, the City has requested that EBB Environmental Consulting suspend the use of air rifles in its rabbit control program. We do not condone the actions taken by the independent contractor. A review of rabbit management techniques is underway. 

Rabbit cull method suspended

by Rachael Kimola, Castanet - Story: 42157 Oct 1, 2008 / 11:42 am

Kelowna’s controversial rabbit cull method has been suspended, at least for the time being.

Based on allegations of cruelty to animals in the methods used to dispose of the City’s feral rabbits, the City has requested that EBB Environmental Consulting suspend the use of air rifles in its rabbit control program immediately.

A security guard, Gwenda Garrett, made a complaint to the RCMP after claiming she witnessed two people stomp a rabbit to death after shooting it with an air rifle early Saturday morning. The complaint was dismissed after the RCMP determined that the actions did not constitute animal cruelty.

Joe Creron, City Parks Manager, says the use of air rifles will be suspended while they meet with EBB to determine a more humane way to cull rabbits if a single air shot fails to put them down. “They will still be shooting the rabbits, but we need to find a better way to put the animal down if the air rifle fails,” says Creron. He says they were appalled when they heard of the actions of the EBB employee.

“It’s a difficult issue, but we need to try and not let emotions take over. After I heard what had happened I phoned a local vet and asked for a professional opinion and was told that clubbing is considered humane because it does put the animal out of its misery right away. However, we will be looking for a better method.”

Creron says they expect the review to take until at least next week. He says this issue has resulted in a lot of response from the public.

“We’ve been getting some pretty angry emails from people, not just local residents, but from animal rights groups. We are on PETA’s website. Some of the groups are pretty extreme and known for drastic actions, but so far we’ve just been getting lots of emails. At the same time we are hearing concern from orchardists who are worried about the impact the animals will have on their livelihood.” Trapping of the rabbits will continue during the review.

Comment: The State of Virginia (USA) recently prosecuted a pest control operator for animal cruelty under a Virginia law that prohibits the “cruel or unnecessary” killing of any cat.  Killing an innocent rabbit is no different. 

Many years ago Vancouver’s Stanley Park was a dumping ground for unwanted pet rabbits.  At that time the Park Board introduced coyotes.  It was a massacre.  Nowadays people wouldn’t stand for it.

The news of the Kelowna rabbits has spread far and wide.  From PETA’s action alerts:

City of Kelowna, British Columbia, Shooting Rabbits After Promising to Use Humane Control Methods!

The City of Kelowna, British Columbia, announced earlier this year that measures would be taken to control the city's burgeoning feral rabbit population. These feral rabbits—domestic animals who are likely the descendants of abandoned pet-store bunnies—are reportedly reproducing in large numbers and pose a problem for the local ecosystem and resident homeowners. Kelowna Urban Forestry Supervisor Ian Wilson assured PETA's caseworkers that the rabbit-control measures would be humane. Unfortunately, it appears that Kelowna's first move was not to attempt to trap the animals and relocate them to capable sanctuaries or even to trap and humanely euthanize them. Instead, Kelowna reportedly hired an individual to canvas the city at night and kill feral rabbits using an air rifle. Please contact Kelowna officials and demand that they stop shooting rabbits and employ humane population control methods instead. Remind them that aside from posing a public safety risk, shooting rabbits with firearms is immeasurably cruel. Animal victims often are not killed instantly when shot and are left to suffer slow and painful deaths.

Please send polite comments to:

Ron Mattiusi, City Manager

The Honorable Sharon Shepherd
Mayor of
Kelowna City Council

David Graham
Director of Recreation, Parks, and Cultural Services
City of Kelowna
Water St.
Kelowna, BC V1Y 1J4
250-469-8500 / 250-862-3399 (fax)

No charges in bunny death

Kelowna exterminator allegedly stomped animal

Cassidy Olivier, The Province Published: Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Cruelty charges will not be laid against a pest exterminator alleged to have stomped on the head of a rabbit that had been shot with a pellet gun. A woman who claimed to have witnessed the act told CBC she saw the exterminator walk over to the shot rabbit that was "flopping around on the grass," and stomp on its head several times.

But Const. Steve Holmes of the Kelowna RCMP said the police investigation found that the person had not intended to cause the animal undue or prolonged pain and was "engaged in a lawful purpose in dispatching the rabbit."

In order for charges to be laid under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, it must be proved that the perpetrator's actions were wilful and intended to cause unnecessary suffering. "In this case, his actions did not dictate either of those things," said Holmes. "Obviously, the person took no joy in it otherwise we would be looking at it differently."

The City of Kelowna launched a feral rabbit control program this fall to deal with the approximately 2,000 rabbits running amok in the city.

The year-long contract was awarded to Vancouver-based EBB Environmental Consulting Inc. which has since used high-powered pellet guns and live trapping methods to deal with the animals.

A spokesman for EBB Consulting, who did not want to be named, said some of the woman's accusations were "erroneous." He said no head-stomping was involved. After the rabbit was shot, he said, the EBB employee broke the rabbit's neck "to make sure [it] was completely immobilized." He said that was deemed the most "appropriate method for that specific incident."

The spokesman said EBB Consulting was in contact with the appropriate groups, including the SPCA, before the cull began to ensure the methods to be used were the most "humane options available to us."

Send your letters to: colivier@theprovince.com and provletters@png.canwest.com

Note: Charges can be laid under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act without showing intent.  However, the Act only applies to 'owners' or people having custody or control of an animal.  Under the Criminal Code intent must be proven, and it rarely is.     

October 1, 2008 

Re: Kelowna contractor stomps rabbit 

Province Editor, 

There's no guarantee that an air rifle will provide an instantaneous death. The horrific pain and suffering that this rabbit must have endured before its neck was snapped is cruelty, no matter what the law.  The rabbits living in Kelowna are domestic animals and their offspring, pets just like cats and dogs.  I can't believe that our society would be so inhumane as to endorse this as an acceptable way of dealing with surplus pet populations.  Baby bunnies are still being sold in pet stores like Petcetera, a business partner of the BC SPCA, and municipal governments continue to ignore calls for breeding restrictions. 

It's always the innocent animals that pay the price for idiotic human behaviour, and this is a crime in itself. 

Carmina Gooch
Rabbit Advocacy Group of BC
North Vancouver

Stop selling bunnies


The Province

Published: Monday, October 06, 2008


The rabbits living in Kelowna are domestic animals and their offspring are pets just like cats and dogs. I can't believe our society would be so inhumane as to endorse stomping as an acceptable way of dealing with surplus pet populations.


Baby bunnies are still being sold in pet stores, one at least a business partner of the BC SPCA. And municipal governments continue to ignore calls for breeding restrictions.


It's always the innocent animals that pay the price for idiotic human behaviour, and this is a crime in itself.


Carmina Gooch

Rabbit Advocacy Group of B.C.


Inhumane solution?


The Province

Published: Monday, October 06, 2008


I am shocked that the RCMP won't lay charges in the rabbit-stomping situation in Kelowna because it considers those actions didn't constitute animal cruelty.


An employee of EBB Environmental Consulting, hired to kill wild rabbits, apparently missed shooting the rabbit in a vital spot, so she allegedly stomped it, without success. Another employee then broke the rabbit's neck.


And all this is now legal? Hunters know the skill needed to kill an animal with an air rifle. Perhaps the EBB company isn't training its employees properly.


So stomping is OK? Or, according to a local vet, clubbing an animal to death was humane too. How accurate is clubbing a struggling rabbit? Did the SPCA agree to this stomping or clubbing as one of the "humane options" available to EEB Consulting?


George Clements,

Fur-Bearer Defenders

October 1, 2008 

Marcie Moriarty mmoriarty@spca.bc.ca
Sara Dubois sdubois@spca.bc.ca  BC SPCA board@spca.bc.ca  Craig Daniell cdaniell@spca.bc.ca

Title: Rabbit stomped by EBB


Ms. Moriarty, 

I am deeply disturbed about the EBB contractor and his sidekick stomping on and breaking the neck of a poor, defenseless bunny after an inadequate shot. 

I strongly urge the BC SPCA to investigate the circumstances and see if cruelty charges are in line here.  I'm sure there are, and if the public has the say, these people would be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. 

My family and I are against methods like the use of an air rifle, stomping, clubbing, and any other barbaric form of ridding the City of Kelowna of unwanted pets and their descendants.  It's wrong. 

Let us know if the SPCA is going to step in.  I'm sure some of these rabbits were bought at Petcetera, with whom you share a business relationship with. 

Terry Roberge
North Vancouver
Comment: In response to the above e-mail to Marcie Moriarty, the BC SPCA's General Manager of Cruelty Investigations, she indicated that the Society is very concerned about this incident and that they oppose the use of air rifles, stomping or clubbing of the rabbits.  It was further stated that the City of Kelowna had been advised that the use of an air rifle was not acceptable and should not be used. The SPCA will be asking for EBB's contract to be immediately terminated, as many other people have already done.
The PCA Act applies only to owners or people who have custody or control of an animal, and as domestic (European) rabbits are considered "wildlife" under provincial regulations, they are unprotected.  Current animal cruelty laws are woefully inadequate, and while penalties increased for persons, if convicted under the Criminal Code, the wording of the 1892 law remains unchanged. As the individual/s would deny "willful intent" causing "unnecessary suffering" it would be up to Crown Counsel to prove its case, and in all likelihood this case would not meet the criteria.  So much for any justice. 

Comment: In a number of media stories, such as the one from Castanet, August 13, 2008 "Rabbit cull methods revealed," in which the use of an air rifle was listed, the BC SPCA said "it didn't have a problem" with that means. When rabbit populations exploded in Richmond in 2006 it was reported in the Richmond Review, July 15th, that BC SPCA officials "don't necessarily object to a rabbit cull using guns as long as it is done professionally." Shawn Eccles, chief animal protection officer, went on to say that "gunshot euthanasia, if done correctly, can be a humane death."

The above e-mail response suggests that the SPCA is now attempting to do damage control and avoid negative p.r. by indicating to its donors and the public that they've been an active voice for rabbit welfare. It's been a constant struggle for rabbit advocates like myself to have the SPCA even begin to take any interest in them. Only recently have they begun to spay or neuter their own rabbits, choosing instead to have them killed for lack of space or leaving it to the 'adopter' to pay for sterilization. Their business partner, Petcetera, continues to sell baby rabbits supplied by breeders, in stores outside the Lower Mainland. In March 2007, it was announced that that the SPCA would be placing altered rabbits from their branches in Petcetera outlets, but they've since been removed from the stores that did have them. Meanwhile small rescue groups like TRACS have humanely rounded up more than 350 of Kelowna's rabbits, had them altered, fostered, rehomed or moved to sanctuary. With all the donations the SPCA receives, virtually nothing is spent on rabbits. In fact, most branches limit themselves to only a handful.

In short, rabbits have been ignored and let down by the agency that's supposed to be speaking for them. It's only now that news of the horribly inhumane and cruel death of this rabbit has fuelled widespread anger, that we're hearing from the SPCA.
Carmina Gooch

The Animal Advocates Society of BC says:

The SPCA has said more than once that it approves of shooting rabbits, as long as it's done humanely. In other words, as long as it does not break the law by causing suffering.

Even though shooting animals is legal as long as it's done humanely, what is the BC SPCA, an animal welfare society and an animal protection society, doing condoning shooting pest-pets at all since it can't be possible to know that every death is a humane death? Why doesn't the SPCA just say that it does not condone shooting of animals as a method of pest control, as other BC animal welfare societies say?

Why hasn't the SPCA simply said that regardless of the Wildlife Act, it knows that rabbits, abandoned or not, are domesticated pets, because it has promoted them as pets for decades, and it has rehomed many of them, just as it does dogs and cats, and that it will not condone any solution for the rabbits that involves killing them.

Isn't that a better way to "educate" the public about animal welfare than to say it condones shooting abandoned pets?

Comment:  As of October 2, 2008 the City of Kelowna has received over 600 e-mails and letter, as well as numerous phone calls from citizens "complaining" about the killing of the stray rabbit population.  It's shaping up to be a major election issue.  It's also brought international attention to the city and given it a black eye.  PETA's action alert prompted 60 e-mails by the morning of October 3rd, and more keep coming.   

Read more: Kelowna's killing streets
Two methods of killing approved but shooting ban continues