[1/5] It’s difficult to find a new home for an abandoned rabbit. Animal shelters tend to be best known for adopting cats and dogs, leaving the domestic rabbit and other ‘small fluffies’ like ferrets and guinea pigs by the wayside. The DSPCA currently have eight rabbits on their campus waiting to be rehomed – the majority of which were surrendered by owners who couldn’t look after them anymore. The DSPCA’s Gillian Bird says that many people see rabbits as a seasonal pet, not realising that they require the same amount of attention as other more popular domestic animals. “We get a huge amount of people who are surrender owners because they can’t actually keep them. They get the rabbit for their child around Easter, the rabbit is kept in a hutch all the time, the child goes out to handle it and of course the rabbit hasn’t been handled much and is slightly aggressive. They scratch or they bite the kids, and that’s the reason they end up giving them back to us.” #rabbits #bunnies #DSPCA #MAJDCU

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[2/5] The DSPCA rehomed 50 rabbits last year. Compare that to the 1,200 dogs and 1,100 cats adopted from the campus and this difficulty to rehome rabbits becomes even more apparent. Gillian says that the majority of people do not realise that a rabbit is a family pet. On average, a house rabbit will live from somewhere between 8-12 years if properly treated. And yet, many still see them as a temporary pet. “There’s a sort of replacement situation going on too,” she says. “People say – ‘Hey, the child is getting bored with the rabbit so we’re going to get a guinea pig or a hamster.’ We want the rabbit to be part of the family. They’re fantastic and they’re very easy to housetrain. These are things people don’t realise. They’re very social animals.” #rabbits #bunnies #DSPCA #MAJDCU

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[3/5] In 2011 the Guardian reported that 75% of domestic rabbits in the UK were being mistreated. Their owners didn’t know what kind of food to feed them, or that they needed space to survive. At that time, there were at least 1.6 million domestic rabbits living in the UK. Although the number of domestic rabbits here in Ireland is significantly lower, misinformation about the animal still exists. Surprisingly, one area that still causes a lot of confusion for rabbit owners is neutering. Gillian says that a lot of the pets are surrendered because people just haven’t bothered to neuter them. “Come the spring, we’ll see a lot of rabbits coming in because of the babies they have. That’s the surrenders, where someone’s bought two rabbits, they’ve been told they’re girls, and a while later, babies appear. People come in like – ‘We went to the hutch to clean it out and there were all these rats!’ and you’re going ‘No no, they’re babies…’” #rabbits #bunnies #DSPCA #animalcruelty #MAJDCU

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[4/5] Another issue that domestic rabbits face is cruelty and abuse. Gillian says that the DSPCA have had a few cases where rabbits have been seized due to cruelty. These cases usually involve ‘hoarders,’ people who keep too many animals in their homes, or owners who simply dump the rabbits in the wild. As a domesticated prey animal, house rabbits cannot survive in the wild, and are often eaten by foxes or other wild animals. Some are simply frightened to death. Recent years have also seen an increase in myxomatosis in surrendered and rescued rabbits. Myxomatosis is a disease that originated in Australia in the 50s to deal with the country’s ever growing rabbit population. It is spread by insects and can kill a rabbit in under two weeks. “In a lot of cases where someone finds a rabbit that’s been dumped,” says Gillian, “it’s been dumped because it’s sick.” #rabbits #bunnies #DSPCA #animalcruelty #MAJDCU

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[5/5] Animal testing is a huge cause of concern for rabbits as they are generally known as being docile creatures. According to PETA, over 241,000 rabbits are abused in US laboratories for cosmetics every year. Although this is not a massive problem in Ireland, Gillian says that a lot of rabbits in Europe are still farmed for meat production. “It’s mainly to do with pet food. But on the whole they usually are well treated. There are laws about pain killers and animal enrichment, but it’s very much a closed door thing. It’s not something we deal with here in the DSPCA. We wouldn’t really have permission to enter premises unless there was a major concern.” #rabbits #bunnies #DSPCA #animaltesting #animalcruelty #MAJDCU

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