When we were asked to write a guest blog for Barks and Bunnies how could we possibly say no! After all, Barks and Bunnies pretty much sums up our life here at Camp Nibble.
Our rabbit and rodent rescue shelter is run from our own home in West Yorkshire. Our family consists of me (Hannah), my husband Stephen, our two young boys, our parrot and our four wonderful dogs; Stuart, Wendy, Martha and Duncan. We also share our home and garden with around fifty rescue animals at any time. A vast majority of the animals that we rescue and re-home are rabbits. Therefore, that’s a lot of barks….. and even more bunnies!
When our own family is so heavily of the barking variety, and believe me they do bark…..even our parrot! You may ask why have we dedicated so much of our lives and home to bunnies? It’s a valid question with a simple answer. With the knowledge that rabbits are currently the nation’s most cruelly treated and neglected pet, and a passion for animal welfare how could we not!
Just what is it that has made these wonderful creatures be dealt such an unfair hand? Sure, there will always be those people that are just plain mean to animals. However, on the whole the truth is that bunnies are just plain misunderstood.
Most of our rescue rabbits one way or another have ended up at Camp Nibble due to people taking on rabbits with little realisation of what is needed for them to live happy, healthy lives. They are so often mistakenly taken on as cheap, easy pets. In many cases the responsibility for their care is even left solely in the hands of children.
Welfare organisations now understand well what rabbits need for their welfare to be best met. However, this knowledge has far from been adopted by the general public at large. There is still a huge gap between the general public’s traditional view of rabbit keeping and the modern day view held by welfare organisations and the Rabbit Welfare community.
Many pet rabbits are still housed alone in tiny hutches with access to very little or often no additional exercise. The most common ailments seen in pet rabbits such as dental disease and obesity are attributable to an inappropriate diet and a lack of freedom of movement/exercise. Rabbits are still viewed by many as cheaply acquired even disposable pets. As a result of this many owners still do not seek veterinary care when needed for their pet rabbits. In many cases they are bought on impulse.
The reality is that far from being cheap, easy pets when cared for properly rabbits have complex needs. ‘Rabbit savvy’ owners now understand that their rabbits need space and lots of it. They understand that a rabbit’s diet should consist of mainly grass/hay. They realise the importance of neutering, vaccinating and making contingency plans for potentially expensive vet visits. They respect that as naturally social animals rabbits do best with another neutered rabbit/s for company.
Oops….don’t get me started, this was meant to be fun!
Luckily it’s not all doom and gloom though and a new generation of rabbit savvy bunny owners are emerging. These are the owners who understand their rabbits needs. They are the owners who bring their rabbits to stay at Barks and Bunnies for the holidays, and buy them wonderful ‘Binky boxes’ packed full of fun for their birthdays!
You might be one of these wonderful bunny parents who just love seeing happy bunnies. Or you might be someone still in need of some convincing. Either way, please watch and enjoy our short video below celebrating the truth that ‘Bunnies just want to have fun!’ (For maximum fun enjoy with your speakers on)
After that fix of bunny cuteness we need your help with some serious business. The issues surrounding the current rabbit welfare crisis in the UK are complicated and there is sadly no quick fix. However, we believe that the first important step forwards is for the government to introduce a code of practice for the welfare of domestic rabbits. Codes of practice currently exist for the welfare of dogs and cats. These documents compiled by experts outline in detail what is needed for these animals to be correctly cared for, and what owners need to provide in order to comply with the Animal Welfare Act 2006. These codes of practice also help the courts decide when an animal welfare offence has been committed. Wales introduced a code of practice for rabbits in 2009, the rest of the UK needs to follow their lead.
We hope that you will all join us in urging the government to introduce a code of practice for the welfare of domestic rabbits by SIGNING and SHARING our important government e-petition. We are extremely grateful for your support.
Please sign the e-petition here: http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/49086