Peter Rabbit

From the Watchdog Messageboard:

Why was Peter Rabbit killed by the SPCA?

Posted By: Carmina Gooch
Date: Sunday, 24 September 2006, at 7:07 a.m.

Peter Rabbit

On September 13, a Dutch-breed rabbit named "Peter", who was at the Vancouver SPCA and available for rehoming was "put down." Evidently this rabbit bit somebody who was unfamiliar and inexperienced in rabbit care. As there are a number of volunteers, including a House Rabbit Society representative and an SPCA "approved rescue" group whom management could have consulted with, why such a hasty decision? Couldn't the rabbit have been transferred out and into a foster home? And isn't there training and protocol for those who handle animals?

Often animals arrive from less than ideal circumstances, traumatized, mistreated, and so forth, and to be further stressed in an unfamiliar environment, without being given an allotted minimum daily time for exercise outside the cage, it should be expected that pre-existing conditions will worsen or new ones develop. Rabbits are prey animals and if they are provoked or feel threatened will do what comes naturally in order to protect themselves. It's a fear based aggression. So how can one make the leap that the rabbit is "vicious," so that must translate to "dangerous," and that could be a "threat" to humans, and that "threat" must be eliminated? It appears that the conclusion reached had more to do with the possibility of liability rather than that of animal welfare. Surely a rabbit with issues doesn't pose the same risk, for example, as an aggressive dog.

In my many years of rabbit rescue I have found that those with "aggressive" tendencies will calm down once they are in a stable environment, are shown kindness, and settle into a routine. It does take time and in the case of Peter rabbit, there were alternatives and help available, yet these options weren't utilized. Peter rabbit was made to pay the price.

It has been said that the whole issue of human dominance over other species and our relationship with animals as pets is beset with misery, and that's putting it mildly.

"In studying the traits and dispositions of the so-called lower animals, and contrasting them with man's, I find the result humiliating."
— Mark Twain, American author and humourist, 1835 - 1910

"The wild, cruel beast is not behind the bars of the cage. He is in front of it."
— Dr Axel Munthe, Swedish physician, psychiatrist and author, 1857 - 1949

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