City of Richmond: Save Domestic Rabbits from Being Killed

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About a year ago I moved to Richmond, BC with my husband to start a family. Not long after moving in, I noticed a family of rabbits outside our apartment building. However, they soon disappeared for reasons unknown to me. Shortly thereafter, I learned that the 'wild' rabbits in Richmond are not so wild after all. In fact, they are products of irresponsible people dumping their pet rabbits when they no longer can look after them. In the rare occasion these rabbits (who have no survival skills in the wild) actually survive, they produce offspring- lots of them! Rabbits are known for their reproducing abilities as you may know! Soon there were tons of rabbit families outside our apartment building, and the local residents enjoy feeding them treats such as apples, and carrots, though their main diet is grass. 

My husband and I fell in love with one rabbit in particular (baby gray one in the picture). I specifically bought organic carrots for him as he was very friendly and allowed us to hand-feed him. It was like having a pet rabbit that lived outside, and I would always look out our window and worry about him as my own pet. Then one day without warning, he completely disappeared, never to be seen again. Imagine having a pet or child that went missing, and you have no idea what happened to them. Eventually, I got over my heartbreak until I learned that the Rabbit hemorrhagic disease had struck the local rabbits. This is a highly contagious airborne disease that killed off a large population of rabbits, kind of like a bunny version of ebola. I then had a pretty good idea that the rabbit we cared for most likely died a painful death. 

Recently, I have personally witnessed at least ten rabbits (most of them babies) in the vicinity of my neighbourhood who have been run over by vehicles. Contrary to popular belief, these rabbits are not 'wild' as they are descendants of abandoned pet rabbits, and they do not have the wild instinct that would protect them from a) the elements (rain, snow, extreme heat), b) predators, c) vehicles, d) property development, e) contagious diseases. These rabbits are not 'car-aware' and are vulnerable to being hit by vehicles when they are trying to cross the road or sitting under a car for shade. They are merely doing their best to survive in an unnatural environment.

The City of Richmond states on their website that their vision is for "[the city] to be the most appealing, livable, and well-managed community in Canada". I urge the mayor to reassess their commitment and responsibility in managing the rabbit population. Currently, rabbits are seen as 'wildlife' and policies treat them as such. The city has contracted out animal welfare procedures to the Richmond Animal Protection Society (RAPS). Their contract only allows them to take a responsive approach: to pick up injured, or dead rabbits, which presently they are unable to do both of due to the speculation of the Rabbit hemorrhagic disease. Currently, the only organization that is taking action is Rabbitats, a non-profit sanctuary that has taken the full financial burden of protecting the rabbits from certain death with the help of kind hearted donors and volunteers. I, and other citizens of Richmond would no longer like to deal with the trauma associated with witnessing dead rabbits on the roads. They are intelligent, inquisitive, and innocent creatures that deserve our protection. 

This petition is to urge the City of Richmond to take a proactive approach to prevent the unnecessary death of rabbits. Culling the rabbits is NOT a solution as it is ineffective, inhumane, and cruel. However there are a few solutions that are proposed:

  • Remove European (domestic) rabbits from any government wildlife designations
  • Prioritize animal control agencies picking up stray rabbits prior to them reproducing
  • Help fund/support low or no-cost sprays/neuters
  • Help fund, support, or supply land for the construction of sanctuaries to house abandoned rabbits
  • Impose harsh fines and penalties on people abandoning rabbits
  • Pass and enforce laws banning sales of rabbits, and encourage adoption of intact pet rabbit
  • Increase pet rabbit ownership limits
  • Increase rabbit capacities in city shelters 

THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU so much for your empathy towards the plight of Richmond rabbits!! Please sign and share this petition. People like you have the power to create positive change! Let's get together as a community and create a better life for the rabbits, and also prevent unnecessary distress for kind adults and children who witness their deaths. Doing this will help not only the rabbits, but also foster a healthy and happy community. 

”There is only one important time, and that time is NOW” -Leo Tolstoy