A Richmond-based rabbit rescue says it is being “forced to close” to new rabbits in order to secure “additional support and more space.”
“We need to regroup. We have been making great strides with our feral rabbit control programs, but we need to look for more space and more help,” said Sorelle Saidman, founder of Rabbitats Rescue Society, in a statement.
“Some of our key organizers have had to scale back because of the COVID pressures and other commitments, and at the same time we’ve seen a ridiculous influx of people wanting to surrender their rabbits.
“There was one day where we got a dozen requests before breakfast. We’re all volunteers and it’s overwhelming. Those rabbits will suffer, but we’re a responsible rescue and we won’t over-extend our resources.”
The news from Rabbitats comes on International Rabbit Day (Sept. 25), but the rescue society said there’s little cause to celebrate with unwanted pet rabbits being “surrendered or abandoned in record numbers” in B.C., adding rabbit rescues are “strapped for resources.”
And, while many municipalities have restricted rabbit sales through pet stores – including Richmond – they have had little effect on the abandoned rabbit populations as intact rabbits are still sold through backyard breeders on Craigslist and other platforms, according to Rabbitats.
It’s an issue that Rabbitats will be outlining in presentations at the Canadian Animal Law Conference on Oct. 3, as well as at the Invasive Species Research Conference on Oct. 6.
According to Rabbitats, there are only a few rabbit rescues that continue to operate around B.C. – and two major ones, Vancouver Rabbit Rescue and Advocacy (VRRA) and the Warren Peace Bunny Sanctuary in Oyama – are now permanently closed for rabbit intake.
In Richmond, feral rabbit populations continue to “overrun the city at a frightening pace.” Reports are also coming in about stray rabbits spotted other municipalities daily.
Meanwhile, in Vancouver, loose rabbit reports are now “outpacing the abilities of the remaining local rescues,” Rabbitats said, forcing them to leave the rabbits to breed in the environment, which only adds to the problem and increases the needed budget.
Rabbits are also becoming a challenge in Surrey, Burnaby, Langley, Mission, Abbotsford and elsewhere in the Lower Mainland, as well as municipalities on Vancouver Island.
But funding for rabbit control “has been non-existent,” according to Rabbitats.
Furthermore, the rabbit rescue said changes to provincial government laws and policies, making it easier for rescues and control agencies to pick up and rehome abandoned pet rabbits, have been “promised for years,” but have “yet to materialize.”
Rabbitats is urging people who are no longer willing or able to care for their rabbits, and anyone who spots a recently abandoned or injured pet rabbit, to call BC SPCA or other local animal service providers in their area.
Information on volunteering, fostering or donating can be found on Rabbitats’ website.
Loose rabbit sightings can be reported to abandonedrabbits.com.