Friday, April 13, 2012

"Crazy Bunny Lady" Gives Her 2 Cents on Eating Rabbits

A university extension class will teach people “How to raise, kill, and process a rabbit in a humane and efficient manner” at a farm on Saturday morning on April 21st.  How is "dead" for a healthy 6 to 12 week old rabbit really considered "humane." The flyer (link) goes on to say:  “You’ll receive a live rabbit to dispatch and process yourself. You’ll leave the workshop with practical skills, self-confidence and a rabbit and recipe for your Sunday dinner.”  The reality of the lesson deserves more than the euphemism “dispatch.”  The word is “kill” or “slaughter.”  The “process” is “butchering.” Some classes and websites have called butchering rabbits  “harvesting” like picking crops. Rabbits are not plants. They are animals I know by the names of "Pansy,"  "Sweetie," and many more over the years.

Of course, I find the idea of eating rabbits offensive.  Rabbits live as pets in my home. However, those who raise, prepare and cook bunnies have denigrated such opinions as an “Easter Bunny Syndrome,” or a “Bambi Complex.”  Those derisive labels are an easy tactic to brush off a point of view as a psychological problem , i.e., “crazy bunny lady.”  The name calling by those with a contrary opinion tries to minimize any civil discussion. Frankly, why should any animal lover be derided as “wacko” or "a meddlesome nutjob" when we have compassion for these long eared creatures. Many people have rehabilitated suffering abandoned rabbits from abuse or simply love them as part of our family like a cat or dog.  When did respect for the lives of animals become an eccentric personality defect?

There are upwards from 2 to 4 million rabbits kept as pets in this country.  House rabbits are becoming very common in urban areas with rabbits kept in the family home just like a cat or dog. They are the third most popular mammalian pet in the U.S., UK and Canada. Domesticated rabbits can be litter box trained like a cat, learn their names and other words just like any dog or cat, learn tricks like dogs (clicker training), are very affectionate, and bond for life with people, other pets and other rabbits.

Of course, people can eat a bunny. People will eat anything. In some parts of Asia dogs and cats are regularly consumed. However, as pet ownership of these animals is on the rise the resistance to eating them has increased. (This change in attitude has been reported in several news stories this year.) Rabbits are established as pets in the U.S. so why do we objectify them as food and not dogs or cats? If tradition and cultural preferences were reasonable arguments against braising a bunny, then why do the majority of people (pet owners or not) in the U.S. find it shocking people are still poaching puppies and boiling cats in some parts of the world. We know cats and dogs as our companions  I also know cats and dogs and rabbits as companions.  All three species provide companionship to humans. All three species are heroes in news stories saving their owners from perishing in house fires and medical emergencies. All three species are comforting people as therapy animals nationwide.  Yet, one is still considered a trendy "farm to table" dinner entree.

The breeds considered so called "meat rabbits" are the same breeds who make the best pets like the Dutch, New Zealand, Californians, etc. There is no difference between a meat rabbit and a pet rabbit. Does giving a rabbit a cute name change the rabbit. No. It changes the perspective of the humans toward the bunny. It is that simple.  In fact, some nameless rabbits removed from closed backyard meat operations are now living in homes as pets. Recently, Samantha, a Gorilla from a zoo in Erie PA, was awarded certificate recognizing her "great compassion as a responsible rabbit caregiver and friend." Samantha lives in her enclosure with a Dutch bunny, a breed routinely sold as meat and ironically as pets, too.  But, apparently even a 400 lb. gorilla understands rabbits are best suited as friends not food and what does that make us?  As far as I know the gorilla has not named the rabbit.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Harvey Wins "Hutch is Not Enough" Contest

Harvey's Winning Photo
A 10 year old bunny from Godalming (UK) won a nationwide contest out of 1,700 photo entries for the RWAF (Rabbit Welfare Association and Fund) 'Hutch is Not Enough" Campaign.  Harvey's human,  Martyn Hoyle says the rabbit is house trained, has his own room to relax in during the day and has full reign of the house when Mr. Hoyle is home.  "We all truly believe that a hutch is not enough and that rabbits should not be kept by themselves in a tiny hutch all day with no space to stretch and exercise, and no other bunny or human for company," Mr Hoyle said. Harvey has his own Facebook page and is also building up a good number of followers on his Twitter account.  Harvey looks like a perfect hoppy spokesbunny for "Hutch is Not Enough" campaign. (Photo credit: Surrey online)

Hopperhome is an advocate for "house" rabbits. See flyer listing 10 reasons Not to house a rabbit in a hutch. While I realize lots of hutch bunnies do live long lives with plenty of attention, too many are forgotten except for a daily feeding. After all, my cats and dog live in the house and, my rabbits deserve the same accommodations and room service.

"Disposable" Easter Bunnies Already

The Easter Bunny Dump has started the day after the holiday in Roseville, California.  It's outrageous anyone would treat animals like a disposable digital camera - use once and toss.  These three sweet young rabbits were abandoned in front of the Placer SPCA one day after Easter on a Monday. No one even bothered to knock on the door. Yep, they put 'em in a stryofoam cooler with no lid and left them to be discovered.  The bunnies who have been named Sunday, Monday and Tuesday, are slated to be neutered or spayed and will recover in foster homes until ready for adoption. For more information, visit (Photo credit: Roseville Press Tribune)

Medical News: Vaccine Therapy for Myxo & RHD

These diseases are rare in the United States. However, in UK myxomatosis virus is devastating for both wild and companion rabbits.  Reported by: "MSD Animal Health has published positive clinical data for a new vaccine therapy for myxomatosis and rabbit haemorrhagic disease.
The subcutaneously-administered Nobivac Myxo-RHD was shown to provide high-quality protection against both of these two viral diseases, with vaccinated rabbits remaining healthy and suffering no adverse effects.
Researchers trialled the drug at MSD Animal Health's Milton Keynes research centre, with an editorial published in the peer-reviewed journal Veterinary Record suggesting that the product represents a major step forward in rabbit healthcare." Read full article at: Animal Health Supplier News

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

CNN Story on Rabbit Cafes - Cuddles & Coffee

Interesting CNN story on rabbit cafes at this link. 

Auto Mall Owners & Rabbitats Canada Team Up

The Vancouver Sun reported last Sunday that the "owners of the Richmond Auto Mall have paired with an animal welfare group to try to find a humane way to get rid of roughly 300 rabbits that have been hopping around the area for the past three years."  Auto mall customers enjoy the rabbits, but they are eating through the landscaping and much too close to a high traffic highway. The manager said the "Owners of the auto mall want to do the right thing - these rabbits have a lot of fans." Rabbitats Canada, a volunteer-run animal welfare group that sterilizes, contains and controls feral rabbit colonies across the province are helping with the effort.  I have to agree with Sorelle Saidman of Rabbitats Canada when she said ". . . these rabbits are so far from wildlife it's ridiculous, even multi-generations down the road they are pets. Having a feral colony of rabbits is like having a feral colony of poodles." I had two rabbits who would qualify as "feral poodles" and they were the best house bunnies ever. See full article at this link.

Bing Bunnies

If you missed these sweet wiggly noses on Bing on Sunday go to this link.  The video clip is very cute.  Just nitpicking, but I wish they had linked to some rabbit care information somewhere.

On the Wild Side: Endangered Rabbit & Hares

Pgymy Rabbits
There are several cousins to our companion rabbits (domesticated rabbits - Oryctolagus cuniculus) that are now endangered species.  A recent article in Huffington Post, "Rabbit Species Threatened By Climate Change" brings attention to a worldwide problem.  Many species of lagomorphs are disappearing for obvious reasons and some not.  The Snowshoe Hare needs snow for protection in the winter as their coats turn white or they are conspicuous to predators with deadly consequences. Pikas who live at high elevations in cool climates are finding their temperature comfort zone is shrinking.

There are a few species other than Pikas, Snowshoe Hares, Volcano, Pygmy and Marsh Rabbits that weren't mentioned in the story.  Take the New England Cottontail, for instance. The prolific Eastern Cottontail that was imported from other states (for hunting) is now pushing them out.  Even the lack of natural fires is a factor.  The fires allowed thick vegetation to grow after a burn and is perfect New England Cottontail habitat.  Then there is the beautiful South African riverine rabbit that is suffering from agricultural and development pressures. Unfortunately, unlike most rabbits, the riverine rabbit produces just one offspring per year and an estimated total of four offspring during its lifetime. Even the European Rabbit (domesticated rabbits are decendants of this species) in their native Spain may become extinct there. The myxomatosis virus has  decimated rabbit populations on the Iberian Peninsula and in turn threatens the survival of their main predator the Spanish lynx. 
Riverine Rabbit

It's the connections of hares and rabbits to other animals and plants that impacts entire local ecologies.  I recently read since hares and rabbits are disappearing in some areas of Michigan, scientists find more deer fawns are killed by predators. Even declining populations of jackrabbits in parts of Wyoming are impacting Pronghorn Antelope, deer and even domesticated sheep. There is no doubt the wild hares and rabbits are important species in their natural and native habitats.  Sometimes  when I mention the plight of "endangered rabbits," people are taken aback a bit since wild rabbits are often seen as pests. It seems my friends who garden and some Australians (understandable) are pretty skeptical. However, there is no doubt rabbits and hares have their place and any extinction is a significant loss.

Bunnies Get Good Press this Spring

There has been a lot of good press about bunnies this Easter. Even though I cringe at the thought of the bunny abandonment aftermath of the Easter holiday, I do enjoy reading about all the great work rescuers are doing to prevent it. Huffington Post has published several educational articles on the issue in the run up to Easter as well as Time Magazine and many local newspapers nationwide. It feels like the media did more this year to help and that means rabbit rescuers and educators are making an impact. One example of good press was an article in the New York Daily News at this link. They published this adorable photo with a story featuring three young rescued bunnies who make their home at Sequin, a bunny-friendly jewelry company  in midtown. Both Cindy Stutts and Mary Cotter of  Rabbit Rescue and Rehab, the New York City chapter of the House Rabbit Society were interviewed for the article.  Nice!

Man Surrenders 63 Rabbits to Shelters

It seems a man bought two rabbits at a pet store three years ago.  The male and female rabbits began breeding and 63 rabbits later, he has surrendered them to the Boston (48 rabbits) and Methuen (15 rabbits) adoption centers. The adoption centers already had 60 rabbits waiting for adoption to permanent homes. It is sad (for the rabbits) the man didn't understand about "Neuter Spay" certainly after the first litter. The pet store should have educated their customers about the breeding capacities of rabbits. Better yet, the pet store should have neutered and spayed the rabbits before they sold a breeding pair of rabbits to anyone. Somebody should have done the math. The good news is even though  occasionally a large surrender to shelters like this occurs, it is fairly rare in these high numbers. Plus, there are more good people educating the public about rabbits than just a few years ago.  (Poster of multiplying rabbits by Ramsey Sibaja.)

How to Make a House Rabbit LItter Garden

Yes, you are reading the title correctly.  This is something I would have never dreamed up.  My rabbits' litter boxes are not obscured from view.  My living room never smells or looks like a barn, but sometimes I wonder if I'm just used to it. And, I make no attempt to hide the litter boxes since I change them daily.  (I always ask guests if they smell "anything" and hope they aren't being nice when they say no.) Anyway, Apartment Therapy featured this post a couple of years ago (that's how far behind I am in my reading) and it's worth a look.  Go to this Link

Last Chance Rabbits have a Maine Man

A Maine couple provides a home for former lab rabbits and other last chance bunnies who would otherwise be euthanized.  With a total of 51 rescued rabbits to care for David Sherwood now considers himself a "bunny guy."  Read the entire article here.  (Photo BDN Maine)

Articles Advocate Against Easter Bunny Buying

Several articles have begun to appear in the media about the serious issue of people impulse buying rabbits at Easter as gifts.  An article published on Pet Pardons News noted some sad statistics.  According to the Humane Society of Utah’s Easter Pet Statistics, 3 in 10 Easter bunnies die. It is also estimated that 60 to 70 percent of Easter pets are abandoned or turned into shelters. I have seen the tragic results myself over the years. This is why I started over a dozen years ago and my campaign below. 

Bunny People are the Best including Beatrice Potter

A four-page letter from Beatrice Potter to one of her young fans gives some insight to the author herself and how she was "inundated with requests from youngsters to name characters after their pets." The letter to a young girl named, Phyllis, says that the writer (Miss Potter) receives "‘heaps of letters’ from fans wanting their pets mentioned in her celebrated tales, including a pet crocodile." Phyllis had wanted her pet rabbit Fluffy in a story. The letter to Phyllis was dated January 21, 1912 and came to light at auction. It was heartwarming to see how kind the famous author was when she wrote at the end, ‘I feel quite sad to disappoint you - I have begun another book about the fox! If I can do another book that Fluffy can come into - I promise to.’ See letter and original article.

Three R's Could Include Rabbit

In the UK, a vet from Kent would like a fourth R on the curriculum for kids, i.e. Rabbits.  Celebrity vet, Matt Brash would like animal welfare taught in schools concerning such things as how to look after companion animals.  He feels it would help reduce animals being abandoned. According to a recent article in Kent Online, Matt thinks there are ways to incorporate these concepts into lessons.  As he noted, "Math, for example: if you have a male rat and a female rat, how many baby rats are you going to have within a few weeks?"  That would be something to substitute with rabbits and then the lesson could include Fibonacci Series.  Apparently, the vet is not the only one who is interested in adding animal welfare to the curriculum.  According to the article, "New research published today by the Pet Food Manufacturing Association shows 87% of those questioned in Kent and surrounding areas thought it was important to teach pet welfare at school."