RSPCA pleads with owners to neuter their rabbits after tackling heartbreaking cases
Lifestyle / Wed 28th Jun 2023 at 07:45am
IRRESPONSIBLE breeders are contributing to a surge in unwanted rabbits that have left RSPCA animal centres swamped – with a whopping 48% rise in rabbits being taken in last year..
This Rabbit Awareness Week (June 26-30), the animal charity is calling on people to prevent the growth of unwanted litters by neutering and promptly sexing their pets.
Rabbits breed quickly and RSPCA animal centres are full with abandoned and unwanted animals. Many owners have also found their bunnies breeding out of control, sometimes because they have been sold missexed pairs.
In the last year, RSPCA officers have also tackled horrendous cases of neglect, which illustrate the problem of those who disregard the welfare of rabbits with wayward breeding practices.
Four giant-breed New Zealand rabbits are currently being cared for by RSPCA Kent North West Branch in the aftermath of a prosecution case, which involved animals that were reared for their meat in squalid conditions on an allotment in the North East.
Marilyn (pictured, right) gave birth to eight babies soon after arriving into RSPCA care and branch staff are looking to rehome her with one of her daughters, Maddie (left), while two more of her offspring, twins Dolores and Luisa, are also seeking new homes. All the rabbits have been with the branch for over a year and were moved to Kent from a private boarding establishment to give them a better chance of finding new homes.
RSPCA Kent North West Branch manager Becky Blackmore says the branch, along with the charity’s other centres, has been under huge pressure as rehoming rates have fallen in recent years.
Last year (2022) there was a huge 48% rise in the numbers of rabbits being taken in, with 1,090 rabbits arriving at animal centres and 1,942 rescued by RSPCA branches.
So far this year the numbers have dropped compared to a similar period last year, but many RSPCA centres are now full to capacity and cannot accommodate any more rabbits. In the first five months of this year (up to the end of May), 307 rabbits were brought into RSPCA animal centres and 308 arrived at RSPCA branches. Meanwhile, 93 wild rabbits were brought to the charity’s four wildlife centres.
“Some rabbits have been in private boarding establishments for a year, others for many months – due to capacity issues at our centres,” said Becky. “Over the last year it has cost the RSPCA tens of thousands of pounds to keep rabbits in private boarding as they are being rehomed so slowly – it is an eye-watering cost.
“We try to take in as many as we can to ease the pressure on the waiting list, as we did with Marilyn. We give them space and try to find them homes. She was among some poor rabbits who were being bred for their meat on an allotment. They were being kept in appalling conditions.”
The branch hopes to repeat its success in rehoming another extended family of bunnies, whose owners failed to neuter them and their numbers multiplied. Sarah and Hector (pictured), arrived in Kent with offspring, Johnny, Meena and Ash, and were neutered on arrival. But by then Sarah was pregnant again and she gave birth to five more rabbits with the branch completing a year-long process of rehoming all the bunnies – had they been neutered earlier the costs of surgery along with vaccinations and microchipping would have been saved.
In another case of rabbits being “bred for the pot”, RSPCA officers rescued 42 Giant Flemish rabbits from an allotment in Ashington in Northumberland in July 2022. The poor animals were living in cramped hutches and were left to breed with each other to maximise numbers for the meat trade.
Several of the charity’s centres and branches, including those at RSPCA Great Ayton and RSPCA Northumberland West Branch, rehomed the rabbits, while because of the accommodation shortage some were taken in by RSPCA inspectors.
In Leicestershire, the RSPCA discovered more than 160 rabbits living in overcrowded conditions in a garage of a property in Great Easton. Their owners had seen their rabbit numbers soar from an initial handful after they failed to neuter and sex their animals quickly enough. Inspectors Helen Smith, Richard Durant and Herchy Boal undertook a major rehoming exercise which saw the rabbits taken to RS
I truly hate humans.we are a vile species and we are not worthy of animals. Look how stunning animals are to look at,no human is as beautiful,and who the hell eats rabbit meat? Parents buy a bunny for their kid and the kid forgets they even own a bunny after a week and that goes for a lot of other baby animals also. Poor things,animals suffer terribly at the hands of bullying disgusting humans.
Exactly the same with cats. This year has been one of the worst ever with rescue centres in Harlow and beyond. There are waiting lists to take on cats who have not been neutered and chipped and left to roam and are still living on the streets injured, poorly and severely thin. The injuries are horrific in some cases of the males fighting for a mate and the amount of kittens is unreal. It's disgusting how little care people give their animals and we're supposed to be a nation of animal lovers - tosh.
Well said Tracy George and i agree with you that we are supposed to be an nation of animal lovers LOL!!!! Judging by many stories that i have read, i find that extremely hard to believe dont you? So many people buy a bunny and it spends its life in a cage in the garden or they get a kitten and just let it roam outside forever and never give a thought about getting the poor cat spayed/ neutered.I think so many people forget they even own a cat.shocking and makes me so angry.