For some time Fairly Beloved Rabbit Care has sourced exercise runs for our foster care network from various sources, including online and local retailers and via donated equipment to the rescue. It continues to be a challenge to source affordable equipment that also meets our minimum requirements, whilst also ensuring that our charitable funds are protected to allow us to meet our monthly vet bills and other expenses.
We had identified the 85” XXL Metal Rabbit Run distributed by Bunny Business Ltd as an attractive option, and over the past few years we have invested in the purchase of a number of these runs. The run fell short of the exercise requirement ever so slightly, but with an excellent price of only £44.99 per run, we felt it was a wise investment for the care of rabbits that were in our temporary care.
In the Summer of 2015 we were made aware of a health & safety risk associated with these runs that many of you may be aware of. The scenario is one whereby the rabbit is excited or spooked in the run and travels at speed towards the run panels. Due to the speed of impact the rabbits force is then able to cause the bars to separate allowing part of the rabbits body to squeeze through the bars which subsequently retract capturing the rabbit within the bars of the run. In many reported cases it is the rabbits head that becomes trapped and it has also been known for the rabbit to die as a result of the injury – either directly at the time of the incident, or indirectly as a result of injuries caused.
We were immediately concerned about these reports, but also had not experienced any issues directly ourselves. Following a review we decided that we would not purchase any additional runs of this style, but were not in a financial position to replace all the runs within the fostering network given the investment already made in the equipment. We immediately issued instruction to our foster carers that the runs should only be used under strict supervision to reduce the risk of injury, and it was our intention to slowly phase out their use completely as finances allowed us to replace the run equipment.
Over the past few months we have received a few reports from our foster carers that the runs have become increasingly dangerous. We are unsure if this is coincidental, but we suspect that the products weaken in time making it more likely that the bars within the run can be manipulated to bend and allow the animals to pass through. Thankfully in this handful of incidents there has always been a carer on hand to prevent injury and ensure that the rabbits are safe. However, this week we have had an incident where we were not so lucky, and sadly a rabbit has passed away as a result of injury within these runs.
We have therefore made a decision to cease the use of these runs immediately!
We were already working on a full review of our rabbit housing and exercise equipment at FBRC, with a view to launching a campaign in the coming weeks to fundraise for the purchase of high quality, longer lasting equipment that will provide warm, safe equipment for the charity to use over a number of years to come.
Following this incident this week we have been forced in to a position where we will need to replace a fifteen of our runs in advance of this campaign. Our funds are very limited, and this means that the runs we seek to replace them with are not the high quality custom built runs we had hoped to fundraise for.
In our search for a suitable alternative that can be supplied quickly and at a reasonable price, we were delighted that Home and Roost were happy to help. They stock the 4ft Chartwell XL which meets our minimum exercise space requirement of 8ft x 4ft. With next day delivery available, John of Home and Roost was delighted to offer us a special rescue discount. We are now planning to distribute these throughout the foster care team immediately and ensure that all the rabbits in our care continue to get regular exercise in a safe, comfortable environment.
We have contacted Bunny Business Ltd for comment, as we note many other rabbit owners have done, and have had no response as yet. It appears that they are unwilling to accept the risk their product poses to animals, and they continue to sell these runs via various online platforms.
We would strongly urge anyone who has this product to cease using it immediately! We thoroughly recommend the larger run products available from Home and Roost as a suitable alternative, or you may wish to contact a local joiner or blacksmith for a quote on getting a custom exercise run to your own specification.
We would point out that we are aware of other metal framed exercise runs that are safe to use. The issue relating to this run is a result of a low quality, malleable metal wiring structure. Runs made of stronger or thicker metal wiring may not pose the same risk.
If you would be willing to contribute towards the costs of our replacement runs, your support would very much be appreciated. Please donate via our JustGiving account.