This Easter period, a local rabbit rescue charity encourages you to see past the cute baby bunnies of the season and learn more about the real issues affecting pet rabbits.
Recent research suggests that over 1 million of the UKâ€™s pet rabbit population may not be receiving the five basic needs they require as specified within the animal welfare act, and rabbit welfare in particular is thought to be at critical levels as the rabbit appears to be Britainâ€™s most neglected, abandoned and ill-treated pet.
Fairly Beloved Rabbit Care, a registered Scottish charity dedicated to the improvement of rabbit welfare through rescue and education services, are encouraging families, schools and community groups to join in their Easter campaign, â€œThe Big Hopâ€ throughout March and April.
David Bell, director of the charity, said, â€œMost people know that rabbits are the 3rd most popular pet, but when you start to talk about what rabbits need the majority of people start to make mistakes.Â This is an issue of education and awareness, not cruelty or deliberate neglectâ€.
The charity, which has been in operation for just over two years, uses volunteer foster families to care for rabbits in need, whilst permanent homes are found.Â Many of the rabbits that enter the service have significant health or behavioural problems.Â The charity will work closely with each rabbit to bring them back to health and rehabilitate them ready for a family home.Â Rabbits are of all ages too, with new born litters entering the rescue service just as regularly as older rabbits.
Their Big Hop campaign invites people to get actively involved, either through fundraising activities or by inviting the charity to attend local schools, nurseries and community groups to offer an interactive rabbit welfare talk featuring rabbit handling sessions.
â€œWeâ€™d love as many people as possible to hold their own sponsored hop event,â€ David continues, â€œItâ€™s a great opportunity for some family fun during the Easter period, and can easily raise some much need funds for the rabbits in desperate need of helpâ€.
With an estimated 67,000 rabbits in rescue services throughout the UK, and thousands more being rehomed privately through classifieds and social media networks, the message is clear to those who are considering a rabbit this Easter.
â€œMake it a chocolate oneâ€, David says, â€œand if you still want a rabbit after Easter contact us or your local rescue centre and adopt rather than buy from a pet shop or a breeder.Â As well as a healthy, loving pet you will get lots of up to date advice and support that is less likely to be available from commercial organisationsâ€.
For more information on how you can get involved with The Big Hop visit The Big Hop website or call Fairly Beloved Rabbit Care on 0141 280 3272.Â The team will also be holding a Big Hop event at the David Livingstone Centre on Good Friday and Easter Saturday as part of the National Trust for Scotlandâ€™s Easter Events.