BC SPCA/Petcetera - selling rabbits together



Petcetera: assorted young rabbits 7-10 weeks,  $29.96. Not sterilized.  Older rabbits sometimes on sale for less.






His name is George *LINK* *PIC*

Posted By: Carmina Gooch, Vancouver Rabbit Rescue and Advocacy
Date: Thursday, 28 April 2005, at 7:57 p.m.

In Response To: The SPCA, Petcetera, and rabbits (Carmina Gooch)

Dan Urbani
President, Petcetera

Dear Sir,

I would like you to take a look at the attached pictures.

His name is George and this picture was taken after the Vancouver Rabbit Rescue & Advocacy had to remove him from a home due to severe neglect. This rabbit was purchased last year from your store in Richmond, BC. As you can well see he did nothing but suffer. When I took him he had lost almost all his hair, was so thin and weak he could barely move. He had been living in horrible conditions (a small cat carrier). This carrier had approx. two inches of waste in it and his legs were severely burned from sitting in his own urine. There he spent his whole day, alone, with no food or water. He was never let out and would most likely have died very soon if he had not been rescued. He was sold to a young woman who was unaware of his needs and quickly became bored with him when he was no longer small and cute. A rabbit as a pet is something that requires much thought, is a huge commitment and should never be decided on a whim. George was a whim which almost ended in fatal results. His and so many others suffering could have been prevented. I am asking you to eliminate the sale of rabbits in your chain of stores. There are so many animals in shelters waiting for loving homes that the purchase of pets is unnecessary and is only done for profit. It puts too many animals into unsuitable homes, condemned to a life of misery through no fault of their own.


Dawne Gleadhill
Advocacy Committee
Vancouver Rabbit Rescue & Advocacy


Beginning in February 2005, the SPCA put four surrendered rabbits into the Grandview/Rupert Petcetera.  Two are unsold.  They cost $59.95 and have been sterilized. They are fully grown, not appealing babies and are twice the price of the Petcetera product. Petcetera staff seem untrained in, or ignorant of, a rabbit's needs or how to select the best home for a rabbit.


Letter to Dan Urbani, President, Petcetera

Posted By: Sue Collard, President, Vancouver Rabbit Rescue and Advocacy
Date: Saturday, 30 April 2005, at 7:57 a.m.

In Response To: The SPCA, Petcetera, and rabbits (Carmina Gooch)

Dear Dan Urbani:

Every month VRRA handles a large number of calls and e-mails regarding rabbits people no longer want, rabbits people have no idea how to care for, stray rabbits, and dumped rabbits. Therefore, it was with mixed feelings we heard of the negotiations between Petcetera and the BC SPCA around a trial satellite adoption program for rabbits at Petcetera’s Grandview & Rupert location.

At this time we forwarded a brief proposal to you for your consideration that included a number of concerns that were based on specific observations by our members at several Petcetera locations. We also indicated these concerns would need to be addressed in any satellite adoption program that took into account animal welfare standards that were on a par with those at the location the adoptables would come from, which at the time was the Vancouver SPCA..

As we received no response from Petcetera outside of one call from your Livestock Manager, we continued to raise issues with the BC SPCA, including some over the pilot adoption program. The BC SPCA has indicated that as it has “no control” over your retail policies we should address our concerns to you as the CEO of Petcetera. Accordingly, we would appreciate your response to the following:

1. Petcetera has allowed rabbits for adoption in a number of locations since the late 1990s, usually one or two at a time at any one location. Despite an ongoing relationship with several groups of more than 7 years duration, rabbits in satellite adoption programs do not form part of Petcetera’s P.A.W.S adoption programs, not are they mentioned anywhere on your website. Can you explain why Petcetera has chosen not to publicly acknowledge the presence of adoptable rabbits in its stores?

2. VRRA is currently handling a number of former Petcetera rabbits and based on our experience we believe that many more continue to be recycled through shelters and rescues. Can you explain how you believe the continuing sale of rabbits from Petcetera locations contributes to “reducing pet overpopulation issues”? Why has Petcetera chosen not to sell cats/dogs/kittens/puppies and why does it continue to sell rabbits, as well as other animals?

3. We are given to understand that a common response to this question is that of “consumer demand.” We will state categorically that such arguments are specious. There are over 200 rabbits listed in Lower Mainland shelters and rescue groups, local shelters are full to capacity, there are more rabbits waiting for space, and a large number are abandoned, as any visit to Jericho Beach, or other of the well known Lower Mainland dumping sites will indicate. Given this, surely the presence of adoptable spayed and neutered rabbits rather than sale priced baby bunnies would make much more of a contribution to reducing pet overpopulation. It would certainly help reduce euthanasia rates

4. You will be pleased to know that one of the former Petcetera rabbits VRRA has dealt with was a young rabbit sale priced due to a medical condition that will require ongoing treatment. Could Petcetera indicate just how much “consumer demand” there is for baby rabbits with ongoing medical needs? What would have happened to this baby had someone not bought it? Would it have been returned to the breeder? And would the breeder simply have culled this unwanted return? What is Petcetera’s policy around unsold “livestock”, and what information do you have on the fate of animals returned to breeders?

5. Leaving aside the topic of supply, demand, and the deliberate use of live animals as a sales hook, when will Petcetera address any of the issues we have raised in prior and ongoing corresondence, given the SPCA has indicated it is unable to address these issues and therefore, by implication, that change will have to be initiated by Petcetera? You will note that many of them are identical to the concerns we brought to your attention nearly 6 months ago, something that causes us significant worry. Specifically,

a. Fish tank housing for rabbits for sale is inadequate and the supposed relatively short duration of the stay of rabbits in the fish tanks is insufficient justification for their continued use. Could Petcetera please provide any empirical evidence that would justify the use of this style of housing?
b. Adoptable rabbits were initially placed in undersized rabbit cages on a counter in an unsupervised location, and remained in this location for several days. Could Petcetera please explain why this occurred and what steps it has taken to remedy this situation?
c. There are few or no enrichment items provided to rabbits for sale, and none provided to adoptable SPCA rabbits outside of those brought by VRRA.
d. We have seen little evidence that sufficient hay is provided on a systematic basis to either rabbits for sale or rabbits for adoption, outside of that VRRA has provided for adoptable rabbits. Hay is central to a rabbit’s diet and to the efficient functioning of its gut and any sudden reduction of hay or changes in diet could trigger ill-health in adoptable rabbits.
e. We have seen little evidence that rabbits for adoption are provided with an adequate supply of fresh leafy greens, outside of those VRRA itself has provided. In the absence of VRRA’s efforts we would suggest that the diet provided for adoptable rabbits is therefore of a lesser standard than the diet they received at the Vancouver SPCA (where it is again provided primarily by VRRA and SPCA volunteers). What will Petcetera be doing to ensure the well-being of SPCA adoptable rabbits in its care and will it be adopting animal care standards on a par with those provided by the many volunteers who tend to rabbits in a number of SPCA shelter locations?
f. The majority of staff seem woefully ill-informed of rabbit care, behaviour and needs, VRRA members were informed that staff did not understand why adoptable rabbits were being placed in Petcetera, and staff showed remarkably little interest in the adoptables. Has Petcetera initiated any form of staff training around rabbit care and behaviour, does it have any form of training specifically for adoptables, and if so what does this training consist of? If it has not yet initiated staff training when will it do so?
g. Little or no appropriate information is provided around rabbit care, what information VRRA provided either went missing, was removed, or was placed somewhere not readily accessible to staff or customers. Former owners of Petcetera rabbits have indicated they were provided with no care information at all. A VRRA member had to specifically request information on at least 3 separate occasions before any was provided. However, Petcetera’s rabbit information flyer turned out to be nothing more than a shopping list What will Petcetera be doing to ensure that current and up to date rabbit care and behaviour information is being provided with either each and every rabbit for sale or SPCA adoptable rabbits, including the necessity for spay and neuter – surely something that would help reduce overpopulation?

As it currently stands, I can see how the current satellite adoption arrangement benefits the BC SPCA, by reducing the numbers of rabbits physically present in its shelters. I can see how the current satellite adoption program benefits Petcetera, as people need to buy for their rabbits whether adopted or not. I cannot see, given the above, how it benefits the rabbits.

The SPCA has indicated that the satellite adoption program will allow people to adopt who might not otherwise come to shelters. This may well be true, but perhaps it would better serve the SPCA’s needs to get rabbits adopted if their current agreement with you had somewhere included the fact that people would need to know that an adoption program was in place.

I fail to see how Petcetera can claim that it is committed to reducing pet overpopulation given it contributes to the cycle of abuse , abandonment, and surrender through first selling rabbits, second in providing grossly inadequate or no information including a complete lack of information on spay/neuter, third in remaining quiet about adoption programs that have existed for 7 years in some parts of the country. Is it the irony of both selling and adopting from the same site that keeps you quiet and leads the SPCA to suggest we approach you for an answer to our concerns? Is Petcetera concerned it might lose sales to adoptions were it to fully endorse an adoption program that was on a par with those for cats and dogs and that included removing live rabbits for sale from its locations?
VRRA looks forward to your response on these issues. Feel free to contact me at any time.

Sue Collard,
President, VRRA

The SPCA, Petcetera, and rabbits
Carmina Gooch -- Thursday, 28 April 2005, at 7:45 a.m.
His name is George *LINK* *PIC*
Carmina Gooch, Vancouver Rabbit Rescue and Advocacy -- Thursday, 28 April 2005, at 7:57 p.m.
Pleas for help to Vancouver Rabbit Rescue
Carmina Gooch, VRRA -- Friday, 29 April 2005, at 10:01 a.m.