Your Rabbit: A Disposable Pet?

Winter is usually the worst time of year for people wanting to give up on their pet rabbit. But in the past fortnight, we’ve been overwhelmed with demand from people looking for us to take on their rabbits.

We know that sometimes there are genuine reasons for having to rehome your rabbit, and we continue to stick by our policy to help everyone who comes to us for help rehoming their rabbit. We never refuse to help, and even where we do not have any immediate vacancies we will add your details to our waiting list, we will offer support & advice and try to help you rehome your rabbit whilst waiting for a vacancy.

However, we’re finding the culture of the disposable pet is very much becoming the norm. In today’s society, small pets like rabbits are very much viewed as an accessory to someone’s lifestyle, and when the accessory no longer suits, they just hide it away, sell it on or give it to someone they think would “like a wee shot”. For us, whilst dealing with unwanted rabbits day-in-day-out, we find this situation deeply frustrating and upsetting.

Recent examples of reasons for people giving up their rabbit:

  • Decorating their home and don’t want the rabbit to make a mess of their new décor/furniture.
  • Want to go on holiday and can’t find anyone (or not willing to pay anyone) to care for their rabbit so easier to give it up completely.
  • “Upgraded” their pet to a cat or a dog, and don’t have time for the rabbit anymore.
  • Got a second rabbit and the kids lost interest in the first so giving the first rabbit away (oh, we hate this one, and it happens regularly!).

Our challenge is deciding whether to work with the families to get them to realise the commitment they had made and get them to care properly for their pet, or whether to accept a (poor) decision has been made and get the rabbit(s) out of the home and into our care for their own safety!

In some ways, the honesty of these people is actually comforting as we often feel like we’re getting lied to about the real reason for giving up their rabbit. For example, collecting a rabbit that needs to be rehomed because it is “vicious” and we take home an adorable, loving, affectionate rabbit.

It seems incredibly difficult to get people to view these wonderful pets as a life-time commitment. Rabbits are living creatures. They depend on us for their day-to-day care. They look to us for love & attention. They view us as part of their family. So why is it so easy for so many to turn their backs on them? Would you “dispose of” your kids because your new house was too small, or because you wanted their bedroom for a dining room, or because a new kid entered the family? Of course not! We urge rabbit owners to remember their pets when planning changes in their lifestyle, and where possible to consider their needs in your plans too. A rabbit can live 10 – 12 years, so before getting a rabbit think about whether you will be fully committed to it for that long.

If you are struggling with your rabbit(s) and have been considering rehoming them, why not get in touch with us to see if we can help you work out how to fit your rabbit into your new lifestyle – you may be surprised at what options we can think of.