Pets at Home are importing Rabbits from Spain. These Rabbits are being neutered in spain at 4-5 WEEKS OLD! (NOT 4-6 MONTHS!).
They will then be flown from Spain to be sold in Pets at Home stores.
The journey alone will cause untold stress on these poor creatures, let alone the medical proceedure. Many animals will be lost in this 'trial'.
It is morally and ethically wrong.
Please find below a letter from Pets at Home regarding VIP Rabbits.
Dear Miss ***
Many thanks for your email.
In relation to our VIP rabbits, they come from a breeder on the continent, their facilities have been inspected by our Pets at home Head of Pets, who herself is an experienced Veterinary Surgeon. The rabbits are neutered, microchipped and vaccinated against Myxomatosis and VHD, however we recommend topping up the VHD vaccine at 12 weeks of age. They are 8 weeks old when we first offer them for sale. The new Nobivac Myxo-RHD Vaccine was only launched last week so at the moment is not being used on these rabbits.
As a business we are paying additional costs to carry out the trial to understand how we can replicate the process in the UK, the VIP rabbits are transport by air to minimise the length of time travelling. Any pets that are imported into the UK are done so adhering to strict importation regulations specified by DEFRA and the EU. This is a small trial which includes a maximum of 16 stores at any one time out of 314 stores, for example we only received 26 neutered rabbits into our stores as part of the trial last week.
Our focus is to establish if there is a market in the UK for rabbits that have been vaccinated and/or neutered, this will offer welfare benefits for the rabbits, reduced risk of unwanted pregnancies as well as a substantial saving for customers on having to pay for vaccinations and neutering at a later date. Being able to neuter, vaccinate and microchip the animals before they arrive in our stores, is key to helping us promote responsible pet ownership and ensuring that the animals in our care go on to live happy, healthy lives. We know that many people do not neuter or vaccinate their rabbits and are keen to try different ways of encouraging this.
We know from the rabbit welfare groups that rabbits are social and a male and female pair is the best pairing. We cannot recommend this as we sell rabbits at 8-10 weeks old and customers would end up with a lot of unwanted babies, the last thing we want. The only way we can find to enable this is by selling them neutered at a young age.
One of the key reasons for doing this is that this supplier has established breeding, weaning practices and takes a great deal of pride in the pets they breed. Their vet is highly trained and experienced in all aspects of animal care, but is a specialist in rabbits. He performs neutering procedures via surgery on rabbits at 4 – 5 weeks of age whilst this is younger than in the UK, the vet is very experienced at this and recovery time is short for these rabbits. It is our aim if the trial is successful to look for highly trained vets in this country with additional training who would be able to complete the neutering method so that we can reproduce the process in the UK, our Head of Pets will be investigating this possibility.
I would like to assure you that the wellbeing of our rabbits is vital and we do not undertake any trial such as this without due consideration to animal welfare.
Please don’t hesitate to contact me if you have any further queries.
Pets at Home Ltd