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UK Taxation Threatens Lives of Domestic Rabbits

2010-10-13

October 13, 2010, Press Dispensary. The Rabbit Welfare Association and Fund (RWAF) is concerned about the knock-on effect of thousands of retrospective tax bills soon to be landing on the doormats of UK tax payers. This time of year is already known to show an increase in pet rabbits being given up by their owners: a few months after traditional high volumes of sales in the spring, with children tiring of their new pets and reluctant to venture into the cold and wet garden to clean out and feed as the winter draws in. With approximately 2 million pet rabbits in the UK, the RWAF fears that the extra financial pressure will further increase this trend. Many unwanted rabbits will find their way into rescue centres but some will be abandoned into the wild.

Domestic breeds, as well as being unsuited to a life in the wild because of their caged habitat, have clear physical differences that would make them unable to cope
RWAF

Although some people may think they are freeing their pets and allowing them a natural lifestyle, the reverse is more likely to be the case. The RWAF advise that the following risks apply to any pet rabbit that is released to the wild and therefore strongly advise against it:

- risk of predation from foxes, cats, dogs, birds of prey
- inability to fend for self, find a burrow, shelter and stay warm
- risk from wild rabbit population who are unlikely to accept a stranger into their midst
- risk of stress and fear
- risk of myxi if unvaccinated / when vaccine wears off
- risk from a sudden change in diet could cause illness
- risk of getting fleas/lice
- risk of health problems going undetected, ie. overgrown teeth, causing a slow and painful death.
- risk of unneutered does being impregnated and, without the ability to burrow, giving birth in an unprotected environment.
- risk of prosecution to the owner - releasing a rabbit into the wild is a prosecutable offence and the owner can and will be fined if caught

Domestic breeds, as well as being unsuited to a life in the wild because of their caged habitat, have clear physical differences that would make them unable to cope, ie. the Rex has a soft coat that would not keep them warm, and the lop eared rabbits that will not be able to hear predators as well as their up-eared cousins.

Releasing rabbits into the wild is technically 'abandonment' and therefore illegal under the Animal Welfare Act 2006. The RWAF would urge owners to take take their responsibilities towards their pets seriously and do everything they can to provide a suitable environment. If, as a last resort, they are unable to keep the rabbits then they must take all possible steps to rehome their rabbit with someone known to be responsible, and never abandon their rabbit into the wild.

The RWAF are campaigning for a better standard of care for all pet rabbits in the UK, and their current 'A hutch is not enough' campaign highlights the fact that rabbits are social animals and should be kept with the company of their own kind, so need to be neutered as well as vaccinated, and allowed to express natural behaviour such a running, jumping and digging. For more information on how to keep your rabbits happy and healthy visit their website: http://www.rabbitwelfare.co.uk

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Notes for editors
The Rabbit Welfare Association and Fund (RWAF) is a registered charity, No 1085689 and is the official charity of the Rabbit Welfare Association which has about 3000 members. It is dedicated to improving the lives of domestic rabbits kept as pets in the UK.

For further information, please contact:
Rae Todd, Rabbit Welfare Association and Fund
Tel: 07585 701012
Email:
Site: www.rabbitwelfare.co.uk

Media contacts

Rae Todd
Tel: 07585 701012
Email:
Site: www.rabbitwelfare.co.uk

Keywords/tags:
rabbits pet abandonment abandoned pet rabbits

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Flapjack looks scared and faces the unknown

Flapjack looks scared and faces the unknown

Being a grey rabbit Flapjack is highly visable to predators and is not likely to survive for long in the wild, especially if unvaccinated, as the wild population are suffering from Myximatosis at the moment.