Take action to help rabbits now.
Municipalities around B.C. have begun to adopt progressive new bylaws to stop the over-breeding and abandonment of rabbits. Kelowna, Victoria, Saanich and the District of North Vancouver have mandated the spay and neuter of pets sold from pet stores; Richmond and New Westminster have banned the sale of rabbits from pet stores altogether. These bylaws are an important keystone of humane, liveable communities by preventing animal suffering, eliminating neighbourhood nuisance and saving taxpayers money.
Please write to your municipal council today and ask them to be leaders in community animal management. Find your council’s email address and send them a brief email in your own words in order to have the greatest impact.
About the feral and abandoned rabbit population
Throughout B.C., the issue of rabbit abandonment in public spaces has become a serious animal welfare issue.
These animals are offspring, descendants of abandoned rabbits, or are rabbits who were abandoned themselves,. Abandonment is an action which constitutes an offense under both the B.C. Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act and the animal cruelty provisions of the Criminal Code of Canada.
Sadly, these rabbits face considerable hardships once abandoned. They are vulnerable to predation by other wildlife (hardly a humane death) and may face serious challenges in their ability to feed and shelter themselves adequately, depending on the environment they are released into.
How the BC SPCA is helping rabbits
The BC SPCA cares for hundreds of rabbits each year at our branches throughout the province. These rabbits are surrendered to us directly by their guardians or are turned in by people who find them stray. Our safety net for these animals is already bulging and public demand for rabbit adoption is low. Most of these animals spend months in our shelters before finding a new home.
In communities all over the province, feral and abandoned rabbit colonies have proliferated, resulting in what many people consider to be a public nuisance. Colonies around parks, schools, hospitals and airports across B.C. were all created through the irresponsible actions of owners releasing unsterilized pet rabbits.
The first response to these unmanaged populations from many authorities is to cull (kill) as many of the animals as possible.
The BC SPCA is fundamentally opposed to the inhumane culling of stray and feral rabbits, and encourages the use of non-lethal options for controlling rabbit populations through an integrated wildlife management approach.
This is the Society's official position; however, the BC SPCA has no legal authority to stop the culling of these rabbits if the methods used are deemed to be "accepted practices" for wildlife control. Legitimate complaints accompanied by clear evidence of rabbits being willfully abused or are being killed using unacceptable methods that do not cause immediate loss of consciousness would be investigated by the BC SPCA under our enforcement powers.
The BC SPCA supports activities that aim to humanely trap, sterilize and re-home rabbits in suitable homes or well-resourced and managed sanctuaries that can provide for their needs for the remainder of their lives.
Unfortunately, as our experience tells us, sanctuaries are not always more humane options. Since 2005, the BC SPCA has had to intervene to address horrible conditions at two Victoria animal rescues groups that were unable to sustain the financial commitment of keeping hundreds of rabbits and other animals. Any animal rescue must prepare carefully by ensuring they have animal health and welfare management plans in place and the financial resources to provide high standards of care to their animals in the long run.
Be part of a long-term solution
Where the BC SPCA's limited resources can be the most effective at protecting rabbits is in helping stop the flow of abandonment and breeding. The BC SPCA itself ensures that all rabbits adopted from our shelters are spayed or neutered.
The BC SPCA has written to municipalities across the province (link opens a pdf document), urging them to enact bylaws that mandate spay and neuter of rabbits prior to sale or that ban the sale of rabbits altogether.
Please help us by writing to your municipal council today and ask them to be leaders in community animal management. Find your council’s email address here and send them a brief email in your own words in order to have the greatest impact.
You can also help the BC SPCA continue to advocate for higher standards of animal welfare. Please support the BC SPCA Monty Fund for Community Education & Outreach today.