Ban harmful rabbit hutches and introduce new law for minimum housing sizes
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Imagine being trapped in a small enclosure for your entire life. Imagine not being able to stand up straight all day. Imagine eating, sleeping and urinating in the same space. That’s the reality for many of the UK’s pet rabbits.
There are nearly one million pet rabbits living in UK homes and, although rabbits are the third most popular pet in the UK, they are sadly the most neglected. One of the biggest causes of suffering in pet rabbits is inadequate housing, where rabbits can spend as much as 20 hours of their day cramped inside spaces not even big enough for them to stand up.
Inadequate sized hutches are both physically and emotionally crippling to pet rabbits, resulting in damaging effects on their health and wellbeing. From causing stress and depression to painful and permanent spinal deformities, small hutches can result in a lifetime of suffering and premature death for pet rabbits.
These hutches are often left forgotten and exposed in back gardens and can become extremely cold and damp. Rabbits are often forced to live, sleep and go to toilet in the same area, making living conditions dirty and unbearable. This often leads to painful and deadly diseases, such as flystrike.
Flystrike occurs when rabbits are unable to clean themselves properly due to confined space, resulting in their fur becoming urine soaked or matted with faeces. This attracts flies, which lay eggs in the rabbit’s fur, hatching into maggots that feed off the rabbit’s flesh, causing excruciating pain and an agonising death.
Shockingly, over one fifth of pet rabbits are kept in hutches smaller than those of meat and laboratory rabbits. Although there is a legal housing size requirement for meat and lab rabbits, there is no current housing regulatory law for keeping pet rabbits.
In fact, a survey of rabbit housing retailers found that 60.5% of commercial pet rabbit hutches did not even meet the legal minimum requirements of meat and lab rabbit cages. Because there are so many inadequately sized hutches on the market, people think they are ‘normal’ and ‘acceptable’, when in reality they are a direct cause of so many health issues causing unbearable pain and suffering to pet rabbits.
This is no life for the pets we love.
Through this petition, we want to ban the sale of inadequately sized hutches and introduce a legal minimum requirement for rabbit housing, giving rabbits the space they need to prevent painful, and often fatal, health issues from developing.
We WANT A MINIMUM area of 10ft x 6 ft x 3ft / 3m x 2m x 1m at all times - and part of that should be a 6ft shelter.
These horrible issues are all directly caused by small rabbit hutches:
· Spinal deformities: The inability to stand up straight on their hind legs for days at a time results in the painful and permanent deformation of the spine.
· Obesity: With no space to exercise, rabbits are forced to sit or lay down all day causing obesity, increasing risk of disease and premature death.
· Flystrike: An extremely painful and fatal disease when maggots eat the rabbit’s flesh.
· Overgrown nails: The inability to naturally wear down nails causes overgrowth and curling, leading to them being torn, ripped out of the nail bed and toes being dislocated or broken.
· Aggressive behavioural and depression: A combination of stress, loneliness, boredom and frustration causes rabbits to develop negative behavioural issues, aggression and severe depression.
All of these issues are completely preventable by ensuring rabbits have proper housing. But all the time inadequate sized hutches are on the market, this will never change.
Signing this petition is the first step to improving rabbit welfare conditions. Whether you are a rabbit owner or not, if you love animals you can no longer condone this level of cruelty.
We want retailers to stop stocking small hutches. If you are a rabbit owner, please refuse to buy small hutches and always advise against it. The longer they are on the market, the longer people think they are acceptable and the longer this pain continues.
Please sign this petition and share with everyone you know. Cruelty to rabbits often goes unnoticed and, unlike cats and dogs, rabbits cannot speak out. Don’t let them suffer in silence anymore.
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