Stick, not carrot, for SPCA rabbits

The Editor,
Surrey Now
August 2004

The 2003 fall issue of the SPCA's Animal Sense magazine states that the B.C. SPCA "has dramatically invested in raising the level of animal care and furthering the cause of animal welfare in British Columbia." Not so for the rodents and rabbits. In fact, nothing is being done despite years of promises. Perceived as "starter pets" for children, used as educational tools in classrooms, kept in cages or forgotten in the backyard, and then "dumped" because they didn't live up to expectations, these animals are ignored and overlooked by those who purport "to speak for those who cannot speak for themselves."

In Surrey, management reduced the number of rabbits allotted floor space to three, and since that announcement this year it has further reduced the numbers to three small animals of any kind. The Animal Learning Centre, which previously housed a number of rabbits and rodents and found homes for them, has been undergoing "restructuring." The staff hours have been decreased and they have been given orders to spend more time in communities doing education. There is now little time for "hands-on" and orders from management are not to bring any more rabbits into the ALC.

There were offers from the community and rabbit rescuers volunteering assistance but this proved futile. In fact, the successful "Bottles for Bunnies" has been terminated on the premises because SPCA management wanted the funds to go into general revenue rather than continue to be applied directly to the spaying and neutering of rabbits. It is now being handled off the premises by those individuals who wish to see the rabbits as direct recipients of the fundraising.

In Richmond management has said that a maximum of six rabbits can be housed and the excess killed.

The Burnaby SPCA is considering transferring rabbits to the overcrowded Vancouver SPCA and the threat of euthanasia is constant. Volunteers are always scrambling to get the rabbits into good homes before the ultimatum is given. The surplus far exceeds the demand, and the annual Easter fallout shows no sign of stopping.

As to sick, old, or otherwise not easily adoptable rabbits, they stand little chance unless there is outside intervention.

Unregulated breeding, impulse buying, owner surrenders and routine abandonment remain a constant in the revolving cycle of unwanted pets.

What efforts and initiatives are being exercised by the B.C. SPCA that would alleviate the senseless euthanasia of healthy animals, and demonstrate to the public that this organization is taking a proactive role in the welfare of rabbits? To date it's been private groups and individuals pressuring this society to raise the bar and move the animal agenda forward.

Carmina Gooch
North Vancouver