EXPOSE: Fashion Before Welfare – Angora Agony

Last year PETA released a horrifying video of angora rabbits being tortured en mass for the sake of fashion. The video is too upsetting for me to post but you can see it here.

Angora Agony

Angora Agony

It is estimated there are around 50 million rabbits farmed in China for angora fur and the country accounted for 90 per cent of the 4,700 tons produced in 2012.

Angora ‘wool’ cannot be harvested humanely in the vast quantities needed for designer or high street fashion. Both plucking and shaving of live rabbits is stressful, scary and painful and ultimately unnecessary. Add to this, the awful living conditions these poor creatures have to endure and it culminates in a hideous existence just for the sake of fashion.

I contacted a wide range of high street and designer fashion stores last year asking them a few questions about how and where they source their angora. I also asked them to stop using it and to pledge to NEVER sell it again. Im pleased to say I had a good uptake and the following retailers pledged to never / no longer stock angora:

  • ASOS
  • Boden
  • Borgeois Boheme
  • Calvin Klein
  • Dunelm
  • Elizabetta Italian Scarves, Shawls & Wraps
  • Freemans
  • Feelgood Handbags
  • Gap
  • H&M
  • Mango
  • New Look
  • Polarn O. Pyret
  • Stella McCartney
  • The Range
  • Ted Baker
  • Timberland
  • Tommy Hilfiger
  • The North Face
  • QVC

Im pleased to say that ALL of the above companies have stayed true to their word! And many other large retainers have done the same. Please support these retailers and contact them with messages of praise 🙂

However – not everyone is willing to play nice and too many retailers are preferring to put fashion before welfare.

Many companies have tried to be clever and disable the word ‘angora’ in their search bar on their website. Meaning that it would appear that they do not stock angora clothes but if you dig deeper and look at individual items, then angora products are actually still being sold. Others have decided to change the materials listed to ‘wool mix’ in order to disguise the use of angora.

Who Sells Angora?
These are some of the retailers who are currently happy to sell angora products:

Marks & Spencers and Topshop may still be selling angora – PETA says they have pledged to stop but the companies social media responses say they have an ‘ethical sourcing policy’ – so they wont confirm that that do or don’t sell angora.

 

The worst companies so far…

French Connection clearly dont give a FCUK about rabbits – quite hypocritical really considering they decided to use a cute bunny in their recent store posters! They will not enter into any dialogue with me or many of the others that have contacted them.

FCUK Angora via Twitter

FCUK Angora via Twitter

Monsoon are happy to respond to questions via social media…however they just cut and paste the same answer over and over. They state they use ‘humane’ farms but refuse to give any further details.

Jules are another company that happily use the rabbit / hare image for promotion – yet continue to stock angora products and refuse to answer my questions about their suppliers and sourcing methods.

There are of course, other companies out there providing angora products but these 3 have been the worst with regards to replying to my questions over the past year.

If you feel that the agony of angora for fashion should be stopped then please consider doing one or all of the following:

Social media.
Contact retailers via Facebook (links above), Twitter, Instagram & Pinterest. Leave a polite comment (or review if that option is available) and ask them:

1) Do they source their angora from China?

2) Is this plucked or shaved from live rabbits?

3) Will they consider stopping the use of angora?

Email.
You can contact the companies directly via a head office email to ask the same questions.

In Store.
Ask to speak to a manager to ask the same questions. They may not know the answers but should be able to tell you which of their stock (if any) contains angora and give you contact details of head office.

Boycott!
Obviously – don’t shop in stores that sell angora products and check the labels before making any purchases.

Spread the word!
Lastly – help make a difference by spreading the word that angora clothes = torture not fashion. You can join the Facebook group ‘Against Angora Cruelty’ to keep up to date with the campaign.

Please let me know of any responses you receive.

 

 

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Runaround: The Enclosure Rabbits Would Choose

The video above shows a group of 11 rescue rabbits having a ball in the Runaround exhibit at the National Pet Show, Birmingham 2014. The bunnies were provided by Fat Fluffs rabbit rescue.

Runaround is a small family company that hand make all their products in the UK. They provide a series of connecting tunnels, tubes, runs, boxes and hide outs that make the perfect rabbit enclosure.

With welfare firmly placed at the heart of their business, the Runaround system is the enclosure rabbits would choose to live in if they could!

It acts like a natural warren but above ground. As rabbits are prey species they like to know where their edges are to feel secure. This system allows them to have plenty of space but without feeling insecure or overwhelmed by wide open spaces.

It doesn’t matter if your garden is big or small – Runaround will fit any space and can even be used indoors too! You can tailor make it to your requirements and its easy to move and change around as often as you like.

The product is very safe and secure, made with only the best materials. it can be permanently secured in place if preferred and can be attached to existing hutches, sheds, play houses or even your home via a catflap!

The Rabbit Welfare Association and Fund are big supporters of this product due to the way it allows the rabbits to express all their natural feelings and emotions in a safe environment. It also fits well with their A Hutch Is Not Enough campaign which tries to get people to ‘think outside of the hutch’ for their pets accommodation.

Lastly – its not just bunnies that can benefit from this type of enclosure. Many species such as guinea pigs, cats, chinchillas, ferrets and more could enjoy this fabulous product.

Visit the Runaround website, facebook or you tube pages for more information.

 

 

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Discontinued: Oxbow Papaya Fruit Plus Tablets

For many years, rabbit owners have been giving the Oxbow Papaya Fruit Plus tablets to their rabbits to help prevent hairball build up. Although, not scientifically proven to help, the anecdotal evidence and owner testimonials are overwhelming with positive results.

These little tablets contain the active enzymes Papain and Bromelain. These enzymes are thought to break down some of the mucus in the gut. They do not break down the fur itself. It is the mucus that binds the fur together inside the gut and this causes the faeces to get clogged with too much hair. This can show as mis-shapen poops or, if particularly bad, will look like  a string of pearls. These are very hard for the rabbit to pass naturally and can cause a gut slow down or blockage resulting in an emergency situation.

String of Pearls Faeces

String of Pearls Faeces

Unfortunately – Oxbow decided to discontinue these tablets on 1st September 2014 and they have not produced a direct replacement (There are a few still available on Amazon). They now offer the Oxbow Natural Science Digestive Support Supplement which is great…but has not active enzymes in it so is no use for hairball prevention.

But there is another way….
As always, lots of fluids are needed to help a rabbit whilst it is moulting, along with daily grooming. The best brush for rabbits is the cat zoom groom by Kong. It is soft and rubbery so does not hurt or damage the skin like slicker brushes and combs can do. Feed the rabbits their fresh greens / herbs soaking wet as this helps to get more fluids in as well.

Pro C by Vetark is a fabulous product that can be added to the drinking water daily. It contains probiotics that help the gut cope and also extra vitamin C. Rabbits metabolise more vitamin C when they are stressed and moulting is a stressful time. This helps the entire rabbits system cope a bit better during the moult. It can turn the water a shade of green so don’t worry if this happens. Use for a 5-10 day course. This is generally a product that I would always recommend to keep in the cupboard for use at any times of stress of illness.

I have searched around for an alternative enzymatic product and found something that may work. It is a Bromelain supplement called ‘Natures Own’ with no added nasties in it. Each tablet contains 100mg of Bromelain. The Oxbow tablets contained 23mg of Bromelain as well as 2.9mg of Papain and 1-2 tablets could be given daily. This means, if using these ‘new’ Bromelain tablets that are 100mg…you can cut them into quarters thus feeding 25mg per quarter. This can be given as a daily dose and increased to half a tablet (50mg) per day for when the rabbit is moulting.

I MUST stress that I have not tested these tablets in rabbits – but have been looking for an alternative that is as close to the Oxbow tablets as possible. This recommendation is purely based on the fact that these new tablets contain Bromelain in a sufficient dose that almost matches the Oxbow tablets. It is not an exact replacement. You can always discuss this with your vet before use and always stop if any tummy upsets occur.

I would be very interested to hear from anyone does choose to use these and if you notice any improvements.

 

 

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Ice Bucket Challenge For Pets – NOT COOL!

RWAF Say NO to Ice Bucket for Pets

RWAF : just don’t do it!

I applaud the marketing genius behind the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge as it has raised both awareness and a whole heap of cash!

However, there is now a darker side to the fun. Some people are choosing to dump the ice water over their ‘beloved’ pet instead.

NOT cool….NOT fun.

This can be very detrimental to the pets health as well as being a big fat shock! Im not going to add links to any of the videos currently doing the rounds as I do not want to give them the time of day and promote them. However they are easily found if you feel the need.

Can you imagine how shocked, upset, angry, confused you would be if you were minding your own business and all of a sudden you were drenched in ice cold water? How would you react?

So, follow the Rabbit Welfare Associations advice and just don’t do it ok!

 

 

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EXPOSE: More Horror Hutches

After the Poundstretchers Prison campaign, that successfully saw the removal of the 2ft rabbit ‘deluxe’ hutch…I decided to check out some other retailers that feel 3ft hutches are suitable for rabbits.

A quick internet search showed that unfortunately, there are still far too many retailers that are happy to sell items that actively promote animal suffering. Here are just a few:

 

1) This example from EasiPet is especially bad as its just a single story:
(and their Facebook page)

2) This particular company, Pet Market Online,  seem extremely proud of their horror hutch! They even state ” Each and every one of our high quality bunny hutches is purposely built with a large amount of space to allow your rabbit to feel safe and have privacy when they need it the most.”Really??? (and their Facebook page)

3) Double hutch as sold by The Sports HQ, but still well under the recommend size: (and their Facebook page)

4) This next offering, for sale by World Stores, is extraordinarily special – as it is neither a run or a hutch but some scary hybrid. Clearly ‘ALF’ doesn’t stand for Animal Liberation Front here! (and their Facebook page)

In fact – World Stores seem to offer a whole host of horrible hutches!

So, if like me…you are still hot under the collar about horror hutches, please consider contacting the retailers and manufacturers that are touting these prisons. As always, be polite but firm. We have seen how powerful social media is so lets continue to use it to help change lives.

All is not lost!!! Check out The Rabbit Welfare Associations ‘Retail Charter’ which highlights some fabulous manufacturers and retailers who have pledged to only sell items that promote animal welfare 🙂 All part of the ‘A Hutch Is Not Enough’ campaign.

As a good friend of mine said… “Together we can make a difference”.

 

 

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BREAKING NEWS: Poundstretcher Prison Withdrawn!

Great news!

Poundstretcher have just publicly announced that they will be removing all of the horrid rabbit prison hutches from sale with immediate effect.

“Dear Customers,

The Pet Hut, a subsidiary of Poundstretcher, has taken the decision to remove The Rabbit Hutch from all of its stores across the UK with immediate effect. As a supplier of pet products and accessories, we take the welfare of all animals extremely seriously and will not be purchasing this product again in the future.

For all PR enquiries please contact:
Rebecca Williams
Rewired PR
0121 236 2132 or [email protected]

This is a fabulous example of people working together to make a change. Social media is a powerful tool – one that companies often underestimate.

However, for me….the battle may be won but the war still continues. Poundstretcher have still not responded to ANY of my communications and I still have outstanding questions (see previous post).

I also want to find out if The Pet Hut and Poundstretchers will consider working with the Rabbit Welfare Association and Fund to ensure this type of product is never sold in their stores again.

A BIG thank you to everyone that has helped share this message so far – please continue! You can contact Poundstretchers to thank them for removing the Prison Hutch from sale and also politely urge them sign up to the RWAF Retail Charter to ensure they only provide quality items in the future.

And of course….keep checking the stores to ensure they are sticking to their word 🙂

 

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EXPOSE: Pound Stretcher’s Rabbit Prison.

Pound Stretchers Rabbit Prison

Pound Stretchers Rabbit Prison

For just £129.99 you too could be the proud owner of a ‘Deluxe’ rabbit prison :/ Oh wait….why would you want to be…

This awful enclosure was spotted in a Pound Stretcher branch a few days ago. They have a specific part of the store called The Pet Hut which stocks all sorts of bits and bobs for your companion animals. Every penny counts…but apparently rabbit welfare does not.

Smaller than a laboratory rabbits enclosure – this horrible prison is being marketed as a top end treat for your cherished pet. Personally – I don’t even think this is a suitable size to house rats in let alone rabbits. It does not allow a rabbit to participate in its 5 Freedoms (breaking points 2, 4 and 5).

Not only is it TINY! (approx 2ft square) the ramps are so steep and it looks like it has a wire bottom floor. Not good. Most average rabbits couldn’t sit in this comfortably let alone live in it with their friend (as rabbits should live in bonded, neutered pairs).

Many complaints have been made to Pound Stretchers facebook page but unfortunately, rather than replying, they are deleting the majority of the comments. Others are e-mailing the head office and a lucky few have received this reply:

“The Rabbit Hutch has been sourced for our stores from a UK supplier. The legal size requirement for this product has been met by the manufacturer as well as the organizations who set the guidelines.

We have made a decision to not purchase this product in the future for our stores.

Thank you for your time.

Poundstretcher

Sounds like a cop out to me. Interestingly enough, they have not responded to my questions:

1) Will this item be removed from stock immediately or will it be discounted and placed on sale?

2) What resource did you use for the ‘legal size requirement’ and which organisations did you contact?

3) Do you currently stock any other hutches that are 4ft or smaller?

The Rabbit Welfare Association and Fund are the UK’s leading source of rabbit advice. Funnily enough, they were not contacted by Pound Stretchers with regards to minimum housing guidelines. They run the ‘A Hutch Is Not Enough‘ campaign which strives to educate manufacturers, retailers and the general public as to what enclosures rabbits need to live a happy and healthy life.

Their current MINIMUM guidelines clearly state that the hutch / cage should be at least 6ft x 2ft x 2ft with full time access to an attached run that should be at least 8ft x 4ft.

If you feel, like I do, that Pound Stretchers are promoting animal cruelty by selling this horrendous rabbit prison then please consider doing one or all of the following:

1) Leave a complaint on their Facebook page
www.facebook.com/Poundstretcher

2) Leave a 1 star review on their Facebook page

3) Email your complaint to Pound Stretchers
[email protected]

4) Email your complaint to The Pet Hut
http://www.thepet-hut.co.uk/contact

5) Boycott your local store

Please do let me know (by using the comments section) if you get any replies.

 

 

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Bid on a Bargain for Bunnies!

RWAF July Auction

RWAF July Auction

Check out the latest online auction from The Rabbit Welfare Association and Fund – but be quick…bidding is only open until Midnight on Sunday 3rd August 2014
www.facebook.com/RWAF.auction

There are 100 lots to view with the star prize being a fabulous bundle of gifts kindly donated by Galens Garden. There are so many different items ranging from key rings, books and clothing to money boxes, boarding vouchers and jewellery!

Even if you dont have a rabbit, please check it out as there are also vouchers that can be used in major supermarkets like Tesco’s and Sainsbury’s and more local shops like the Coop and Notcutts Garden Centres.

All the proceeds from the auction go directly to the RWAF to help them continue their vital work in raising awareness of rabbits needs through education and communication.

 

 

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Bunny Binky Fun!

Bunny Binky Fun!

Bunny Binky Fun!

 

Rabbits love to play and they show their happiness in a variety of crazy dance moves called binkies! They zoom, run, twist, jump and shake their heads. It is a sign of a truly happy bunny.

They are naturally athletic and your average rabbit will need as much exercise as a pet dog! They can run the length of up to 6 football pitches each day if they have the space to do so. This means its vital your rabbits have very large exercise enclosures that are both long and tall to allow them to show their happiness.

The Rabbit Welfare Association recommends that your rabbits enclosure is a MINIMUM of a 6ft hutch / cage / sleeping area that is permanently attached to an exercise space that is a MINIMUM of 8ft x 4ft.

You can find more info about the RWAF ‘A Hutch Is Not Enough’ campaign here.

 

 

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Flystrike: Know how to keep your rabbit safe

Flies are not just a buzzy pest….they can cause serious damage to your bunnies!

 

RWAF Flystrike Poster

RWAF Flystrike Poster

Fly strike is also known as Myiasis and is defined as “the presence of larvae of dipterous flies in tissues and organs of the living animal, and the tissue destruction and disorders resulting there from” (Boden, 2001). All very scientific…but basically, flies can lay eggs on bunnies and these quickly hatch out into maggots which eat the bunnies skin and organs 🙁

Initially, rabbits can hide fly strike quite well as the eggs and maggots are usually buried deep in the fur. “Bluebottles (Calliphora) and greenbottles (Lucilla) are attracted to soiled fur or infected skin to lay their eggs” (Harcourt Brown, 2002). The most common site for this to happen is around the rabbit’s anus and scent glands. A rabbit that is overweight, unwell or suffers from joint problems will struggle to keep this area clean. This can then lead to the fur being matted with urine and faeces, which attracts the flies. The eggs that are laid will hatch into larvae (maggots) in approximately 12 hours and will start feeding on external debris. Once this has been consumed, the maggots will continue to eat sound skin and tissue, often tunnelling under the skin layers. Aberrant migration brings the maggots deep under the rabbit’s skin, infiltrating vital organs and can even occlude the rabbit’s airway. This is very uncomfortable for the rabbit and will progressively get more painful as the condition progresses. Initially the rabbit will be very restless, however as time goes on it will become unwell, inappetent and lethargic.

The combination of the sore skin and the maggots creates a very pungent ammonia smell. This is because the maggots release proteolytic enzymes into the tissues to cause cell death and decomposition. These toxins can cause serious shock, septicaemia and if left untreated, will often be fatal.

For treatment to be successful, the rabbit needs to be seen by a Veterinarian as soon as possible. Depending on the severity of the case, the rabbit may have to be hospitalised for intensive therapy and monitoring for a few days. Rapid removal of the eggs and maggots is imperative to stop any further damage. This can be done by shaving the fur off the affected areas and then carefully using forceps to remove the contamination. This can be very time consuming and will need to be repeated a few times to ensure all of the eggs and maggots have been removed. The skin needs to be flushed and cleaned with a sterile saline solution and an antiseptic solution (such as povodine-iodine) and any wounds will need flushing and exploring to make sure that they are also clear of contamination. Non-steroidal pain relief and fluid therapy are vital to help the rabbit combat shock.  Not all patients will be well enough to endure a sedation or anaesthetic at this point so care needs to be taken and close monitoring performed. The rabbit will need to be dried well and placed in a clean, warm and quiet area. Sometimes the use of topical creams like Dermasol (by Pfizer) is advised as it promotes healing of areas impaired by the presence of necrotic tissue because it activates the sloughing of devitalised tissue. Intensive nursing will also be vital to the success of the treatment. The rabbit will need regular syringe feeding, medicating and cleaning along with trying to keep its environment warm and as stress free as possible. F10 wound spray can be used on the area – helping the wound and protecting from further fly problems too. This can be used daily and is good for disabled rabbits that need daily clean ups (thus washing off any Rearguard etc).

If there is a heavy maggot burden, injections of Ivermectin can be given to kill the maggots but the patient must be very closely monitored as the dying larvae excrete toxins that can be fatal. The final treatment option is surgery for when the maggots have migrated far under the skin. However, such a heavy burden does not have a good prognosis and often euthanasia is the kindest option for severe cases.

WARNING! F10 wound spray is TOXIC to cats. Do NOT use on cats or in households where cats and rabbits have direct contact.

As always, prevention is better than cure and there are a number of things that owners can do to help reduce the risks. Owner awareness of fly strike is vital and they must be able to recognize the signs and know that this is an emergency that needs Veterinary attention as soon as possible.

In general, it is very important that the rabbit is kept in good physical condition. This means that it is fed a balanced diet consisting mainly of good quality hays with a small amount of commercial rabbit pellet and fresh vegetables and herbs. By feeding the correct diet, it reduces the risk of the rabbit becoming overweight and also reduces the risk of over producing caecotrophs which get stuck around the anus. Rabbits that are very young, very old or have health problems such as dental, gut or paralysis issues are more susceptible to fly strike.

Next, it is important that the rabbit is kept in clean, spacious living conditions. Any build up of urine or faeces will attract flies. The rabbit should also have plenty of space to move around and exercise away from its toileting area and uneaten fresh vegetables etc should be removed daily. If housed outdoors, mosquito netting can be used over the hutch and run areas to help reduce the amount of flies that can enter the area. It can also be attached to windows / door areas too. Sticky fly paper can be used outside the hutch but never in an area that the rabbit has access to as it can stick to them and cause terrible damage. If the rabbit is housed indoors, an electric insect killer can be used in the same room as the rabbit is housed and net curtains can be used in the windows to reduce the amount of flies entering the room.

Lastly, a topical treatment can be applied to the rabbit to help prevent fly strike. F10 wound spray and Rearguard are examples of these topical treatments. F10 wound spray needs to be applied weekly to the rump and genital area. It is TOXIC to cats so don’t use on cats or in households where the cats and rabbits interact.

The main ingredient in Rearguard is Cyromazine (an insect growth regulator). It is recommended by many Veterinary practices and is widely available in pet shops and online. It should be applied at the start of summer before any flies are seen and gives approximately 8-10 weeks of protection. This product does not repel flies or kill maggots but works by preventing any eggs laid on the rabbit from hatching into maggots. Rearguard can also be applied on rabbits that have been successfully treated for fly strike to help prevent re-occurrence.

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APPLYING REARGUARD
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The bottle comes with a sponge applicator but I find this often has a sharp spike in the middle. So I wear a pair of disposable latex / nylon gloves and apply the liquid to my hands. I then rub this into the rabbits fur from the middle of the back to the tail and the same on the underside. Its important to get the fur quite wet and apply well around the back legs and genitals.

DO NOT APPLY TO SORE OR BROKEN SKIN.

The bottle says to use the whole bottle per rabbit but I have found that you can often get 2-3 applications out of one bottle for small / medium bunnies. As long as the target area is covered and the fur quite wet then this should be fine.

Re-apply every 8-10 weeks.

 

See here for more info (WARNING! some contain graphic images):

Rabbit Welfare Association and Fund

House Rabbit Society

Medirabbit

Saveafluff

 

 

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