Scottish Parliament & the UK Government as a whole: Implement urgent (pet) Rabbit Specific Welfare Laws in the UK
  • Petitioning Christine Grahame MSP
  • Responded

This petition will be delivered to:

Scottish Parliament Cross-Party Groups Animal Welfare Convener
Christine Grahame MSP
Scottish Parliament Cross-Party Groups Animal Welfare Deputy Convener
Alison Johnstone MSP
See response
Scottish Parliament Cross-Party Groups Animal Welfare Deputy Convener
Claudia Beamish MSP
Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Select Committee
David Weir - Committee Clerk
Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and the Environment
Richard Lochhead MSP

Scottish Parliament & the UK Government as a whole: Implement urgent (pet) Rabbit Specific Welfare Laws in the UK

    1. Petition by

      Rabbits Require Rights (Scotland)

Current Laws offer little to no protection for these often misunderstood & frequently neglected pets.
The Pet Animals Act 1951, Animal Welfare Act 2006 & Pet Shop Licencing Regulations are outdated & often unworkable therefore offer little protection for the welfare rights of these animals.
The pet rabbit situation is critical. The RWAF estimate that 67,000 rabbits passed through rescue centres in the UK in 2012 alone.
Urgent rabbit specific welfare laws are required to encompass the beliefs of the RWAF, to include not only the sale of rabbits in pet shops but to ensure their overall welfare, to guarantee that not only proper care advice is freely available, but to include the sale of adequate housing & dietary products as is the legal requirements for all pet owners to provide under the Animal Welfare Act 2006.


Meet Basil Bunny, Best Rescue Story, Wetnose Awards 2012 and the inspiration behind this campaign.






This whole area urgently needs tighter regulation, pet shops standards are as a whole, appalling when it comes to rabbits!
Rabbits are sold & bought far too freely with little concern for their overall welfare; they are often marketed as a cheap, easy, low maintenance pet in addition to the wrong widespread belief that they make good child friendly pet due to the fact they are cute & cuddly.
This couldn’t be further from the truth!
Rabbits are complex animals & their needs are just not being met by many owners due to not only ignorance - often stemming from the lack of good solid care/welfare advice at point of sale - but poor quality housing, dietary products & a poor public perception towards these animals.

Standards within our pet shops continually fail these animals; small cramped enclosures, overfeeding of commercial food stuffs, little or NO hay, dirty water, brightly lit enclosures, poor ventilation, rabbits housed with Guinea Pigs, overall lack of staff knowledge, poor handling and the mis-sexing rabbits to name but a few.

All too often the advice given at point of sale is either non-existent, misleading, very basic or just plain wrong.
Pet Shop Licencing states that proper care advice should be forthcoming & relevant to that species, in addition to the at least one member of staff (or owner) having relevant qualifications.
Time and again we (Rabbits Require Rights, Scotland) are finding poor overall standards in our pet shops & general negative perceptions toward these animals.

We need tighter controls over private breeders & newspaper/internet classified adverts.

Rescue centres should also be licenced to ensure proper welfare standards are being met as poor standards all too often have an immediate negative effect on the rescues who do good work.

Boarding Establishments for rabibts is another area that need immediate attention as these are unlicenced & unregulated also.

Other areas include Petting Zoo's or similar set-ups, anywhere that keeps rabbits must adhere to strict guidelines regarding all aspects of the Animal Welfare Act's 5 legal requirements on owners & keepers of which the needs of rabbits are so often overlooked.

We want to see the introduction of strict licensing conditions via registered breeders/sellers in regards to their sale.

Schools & other areas with class pets should also be regulated. As places of learning they have a duty of care to ensure the correct welfare laws, needs & education is passed onto pupils & not house, feed or treat animals as novelty items, also to ensure animals are properly cared for during holidays & not passed into the hands of neglectful parents who give into the demands of the child too easily.


2: NO UNREGULATED BREEDING - Hobby & Commercial

This area is unregulated. Anyone can set up a ‘backyard’ breeding empire
We have to limit & stop the unregulated supply network of rabbits (and other small animals) for pet shops & other outlets and prevent the over-breeding of individual animals as this leads to genetic abnormalities (dental issues etc..) and also widespread instances of hoarding, where breeding animals are kept in dirty cramped conditions with little thought of welfare for the individual rabbits.

Breeders, both hobby & commercial need to properly regulated via licencing & undergo regular inspections to ensure proper welfare standards are met at all times, thus limiting the problems assocaited with these 'rodent mills'. 


No more small outdoor hutches and indoor cages.
Hutches to be sold in guidance with acceptable sizes as set out by the Rabbit Welfare Association & Fund (RWAF) standards and sold complete with Run.
The RWAF, RSPCA & PDSA all recommend that a hutch should measure a minimum of 6x2x2ft with a secure attached run of 6x8x4ft to house two rabbits comfortably.
We also stress that the separate sales of hutches and runs to cease.
These items should be sold together as one package thus not only ensuring the owner will have the room to accommodate suitable housing but the rabbit(s) will be given a suitable living environment, as is a legal requirement for all pet owners to provide under the Animal Welfare Act 2006.

Indoor cages are again too small for a rabbit to live in. If the rabbit(s) are unable to live free range within the home, then a more suitable environment would require large dogs crates with attached pen to ensure the rabbits are able to move freely & express natural behaviours.

Rabbits are sociable animals and should be homed in pairs or groups in addition to offering a bonding service by the licensed breeder/seller/rescue centre for those looking for a partner for their single buns

Any rabbit being sold or re-homed should come with a (recent) health certificate, vaccinated & neutered (if old enough or neutering vouchers if not) in addition to relevant care advice pack.

Laws Governing the need for regular Vet checks for rabbits.

Ensure our Veterinary practises have at least one rabbit savvy vet in house; rabbit health is a more specialised field as they come under the ’exotic’ category. A large proportion of vets do not have a good up-to-date working knowledge of rabbit health nor do they carry out thorough health checks and are often unable to tend to these animals in emergency situations due to lack of knowledge/equipment & medicines relevant to this field.

Better education not only to the public but those we trust to oversee our animal welfare laws to ensure rabbits get the protection they sorely need.
The public perception has to change, we have to remove the myth of the cute, cuddly child friendly pet to the true extent that rabbits are complex animals rabbits with specific needs that should always be met by the owner.

Diet! Ensure rabbits are fed a proper diet, no more muesli based foods; remove treat products which contain dairy, egg & a high sugar content from sale & promote the message that carrots are not a whole food, they are BAD for rabbits & should only be fed in small amounts as an occasional treat.

Recent signatures


    1. Parachute Jump for Buddies Bunny Rescue

      In 2 weeks time Natalie, founder & manager of Buddies Bunny Rescue is going to BINKY out of an aeroplane & raise money for the Buns in their care...
      If you can donate something, no matter how small it will help sustain the great work done at this Bunderful rescue & share the page for others too.
      If you can't donate please share the link & help raise awareness into the plight of our beautiful Buns.
      Let's get this fundraiser up to 4 figures, it's the least we can do to help such a brave & dedicated woman in her plight to save our Buns!!

      Please share.

      Natalie Constance is fundraising on JustGiving for Buddies Bunny Rescue

      JustGiving - the easiest way to fundraise and donate to charity online

    2. Buddies Bunny Rescue warns against the novelty of the Easter Bunny!

      Buddies Bunny Rescue, Edinburgh's only rabbit sanctuary warns against the idea of using the animals as cute Easter gifts

      Rescue Centre inundated with unwanted pets after the novelty of store bought baby bunnies wears off all too soon A RABBIT sanctuary is warning people against buying real bunnies as cuddly Easter gifts - because it's being flooded with abandoned pets.

    3. Reached 4,000 signatures
    4. We are delighted to announce our charity status

      Rabbits Require Rights (Scotland) Scottish Registered Charity No: SC044268

      For the advancement of Rabbit Welfare via the campaign for (pet) Rabbit Specific Welfare Laws in Scotland & the UK as a whole.
      Raising awareness & education alongside offering advice & support towards the betterment of (pet) rabbit welfare by promoting RWAF beliefs, standards & educational information in addition to supporting & promoting our local dedicated Rabbit Rescue, Buddies Bunny Rescue and donating excess funds raised to help fund the invaluable work that they do.

      We are grateful for your continued support, please take a minute to send the petition link to your friends, family & colleagues, it's only by adding your voice that we can achieve better rights for rabbits.

      A shorter version to the petition link can be found here

    5. Reached 2,000 signatures
    6. We're in the News!

      Our campaign for (pet) Rabbit Welfare Laws has made the news!! :O)

      Great article for the Buns & our campaign in today's BBC Scotland News website,, and to be quoted alongside RWAF & the SSPCA is just Bunderful!!

      As always we are truly grateful for your support, it's only by lending your voices & working together towards improving the welfare situation for domestic rabbits that change will happen, not only here in Scotland but in the UK as a whole.

      Please continue to share & promote our important petition regularly to friends, family, work colleagues etc..
      Not only will it help increase it's potential for change by gathering further support but it also has the capability to increase awareness on the issues surrounding this urgent animal welfare issue that is long overdue being addressed.

      For the Buns! <3

      Hop topic: Why people should talk to rabbits

      It is the start of the Scottish SPCA's Rabbit Awareness Week and it comes amid research, debate and discussion on the significance of the pets' interaction with humans. Sam honks. This has nothing to do with how the little black and white rabbit smells, but the noise he makes when he is happy.

    7. Reached 1,500 signatures
    8. Statement of support from Alison Johnstone MSP

      Statement of support from Alison Johnstone MSP & Cross Party Group on Animal Welfare Deputy Convener at Scottish Parliament concerning our (Pet) Rabbit Specific Welfare Laws petition.


      Fellow Signatories,

      Please be assured of my support for this important campaign.

      I was pleased to sign the petition as I share your concerns. I’m convinced that far more needs to be done to raise awareness of the complex needs of these often misunderstood animals.

      It is worrying that rabbits continue to be regarded as an ‘easy’ pet for children and too many live lonely, uncomfortable lives in unsuitable conditions.

      I am glad that this issue is receiving more attention and, as Vice Convenor of the Cross Party Group on Animal Welfare I will ask that we take action to address this matter.

      Best regards

      Alison Johnstone MSP
      Scottish Green Party

      Please keep signing & sharing, your voice is important

    9. Decision-maker Alison Johnstone MSP responds:

      Alison Johnstone MSP

      With 67000 rabbits passing through UK rescue centres in one year it's time action was taken to ensure the welfare of these animals whose needs are often neglected and misunderstood.

    10. Reached 1,000 signatures
    11. Our rabbits need you in the fight for better welfare in Scotland & the UK

      We're almost at 600 signatures! Thank you!!

      Please take a moment to share with your friends, family & work colleagues. The more voices we can get behind this campaign the better as the more interest it gathers then the more Parliament can see just how many people want this change to happen.

      The (pet) rabbit situation is critical in the UK - sold too freely in shops with little care advice & poor quality small housing products on sale - is it any wonder there is so much neglect when it comes to these misunderstood & frequently neglected pets?

      Rabbits can't speak, they are indeed the silent sufferers as they don't have the ability to make noise to attract attention of their owners.
      It is the truly lucky ones who end up in rescue; rescue centres that are full to capacity, struggling under the financial & emotional burden of having to help each & every one of these long suffering animals.

      You have your voice, please put it to good use & help in our fights towards Rights For Rabbits!

    12. Reached 500 signatures


    Reasons for signing

    • ruth hemingway SWINDON, UNITED KINGDOM
      • 13 days ago

      As a house rabbit owner I know exactly how complex these animals needs are. They are totally unsuitable as pets for children and need a lot of time and devotion. They are far more intelligent than people think and also very sensitive. They desperately need protection, especially from idiots & the ill-informed who buy these poor creatures on a whim

      • 13 days ago

      i am a rabbit owner and it is very important to me that pets are cared for in the right way under the right living conditions.

      • 18 days ago

      As humans we are the custodians of all creatures on this planet and as such should care for every creture on this planet and make sure it is kept in its own natural habitat or if we have to care for that creature to help keep the species alive we should provide it the nearest possible natural habitat as possible and anyone unable to do this should be demonized and prosecuted. Animals have not been put on this earth for humans to use for mortality gain

      or cruel pleasure.

      • 23 days ago

      end unnecessary suffering please.

      • 26 days ago

      Rabbits are kept in tiny cages, neglected & forgotten about, it is criminal!


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