Tag: online

Storm Damage – The Aftermath & Prevention.

Bad weather can cause serious problems for outdoor pets. High winds can easily fell trees, damage hutches, blow over fences and if severe, can even knock over sheds! Heavy rain and snow can cause flooding and all of these things are highly stressful for rabbits to endure.

Photo Courtesy of E M Tigra.

This shed was blown over by the severe winds caused by #stormdoris which reached up to 94mph in parts of the UK. Its a dramatic reminder that we can never take it for granted that an outdoor enclosure is going to be safe.

Photo Courtesy of Hopper Haven Sanctuary.

Storm Doris also caused this huge conifer to crash down on top of 3 rabbit hutches at the Hopper Haven Rabbit & Guinea Pig Sanctuary – causing significant damage to the hutches and a storage shed. Luckily no animals or staff were injured but the clean up effort and repairs are going to cost over £900! (see here if you would like to make a donation).

Photo Courtesy of L Smart.

Even if your enclosures survive intact, your garden may be severely damaged. This fallen wall could have easily caused harm to people or pets and will mean the garden is not predator proof or rabbit safe until all the repairs have been undertaken. It’s vital that you check your garden after any bad weather, to look for  breaches in security and damaged or weakened areas.

Photo Courtesy of A Anderson.

Less serious damage can happen at any time from our normal winter weather. This hutch has had its felt ripped off of the roof meaning it is no longer waterproof. Hutch covers can also become torn over time and its important to check the integrity of all enclosures and their covers on a regular basis.

Floor level enclosures are liable to flooding.

Many ‘off the shelf’ enclosures do not withstand bad weather well. For example, the above photo shows a hutch that is flush with the floor so has no protection against flooding. It also has owner reports of “leaking so badly that bathroom sealant had to be applied to all the joints”. Conversely, hutches on tall legs are not at risk from flooding BUT they can easily topple over in high winds. Tunnels (either man made or dug by rabbits) can easily flood and trap a rabbit to one part of its enclosure. Many cheap, pet store hutches and runs are badly made, easily damaged and are false economy as rarely last more than a year without needing some repairs.

Lastly, there is a huge problem with bad weather that is often over looked – STRESS! Even rabbits in secure enclosures that do not get damaged are often spooked by high winds and heavy rain. As they are a prey species, they suffer easily from stress and this often leads to Gastro Intestinal stasis. They can stop eating, stop passing faeces and become very unwell in just a few hours. It is vital that you closely monitor your rabbits both during and for a few days after bad weather. You may decide to move them into a more secure location such as a garage (not safe if a car uses it too) or utility room when there is a storm on the way. If so, make sure the temperature of the room is as close as possible to that of their normal enclosure and try to keep to their normal routine. As always, seek veterinary advice if you are concerned about your rabbits health.

So what CAN Be Done?

Prevention is always better than cure so it is important to really think long and hard about your rabbits outdoor set up before the adverse weather arrives. Take the time to think about how the enclosure will cope with extreme weather – both hot and cold, dry, wet and windy. Remember that the RWAF enclosure guidelines state that a pair of average sized rabbits need permanent access to a minimum space of 10ft x 6ft which comprises of a sleeping area and an exercising area.

The photo above has been chosen as it represents an ideal rabbit enclosure. It is made of good quality materials and is seated on a level, concrete base. It meets the RWAF minimum size guidelines and has permanent access to secure sleeping and exercising areas. The base is slightly raised off of the floor and the run has low level boarding – both of which help prevent flooding. The roof is slanted and has a wide overhang which helps prevent the rain from running down the sides of the enclosure. It also has plenty of ventilation as well as having cozy areas in the sleeping compartment. Multiple levels allow the rabbits to exhibit natural behaviors and increase their area by making use of the vertical space.

Now, this style may not be a viable option for all owners, however the principles are still valid. Make sure your enclosures follow the same points as above even if you are using a mix and match set up. Here are some more tips:

  • Anchor / screw down hutches and runs to the floor and also fix them back to a fence, wall or shed to reduce the chance of them toppling over.
  • Make sure your enclosures are raised off of the ground and attach clear perspex sheeting to the lower quarter to help prevent flooding (do not cover the whole enclosure as good ventilation is vital).
  • If you use tunnels, raise them off the ground during bad weather to reduce the risk of flooding.
  • Make sure the enclosure has a slanted roof and add some guttering to allow drainage to a safe place away from the hutch.

Lastly – buy the best you can afford as quality items really do make a difference. Don’t be fooled by price or marketing blurb, check out owner reviews that are NOT on the manufacturers website (try rabbit forums instead) to ensure you get an all round, non biased view of the product.

 

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RVHD1 & RVHD2 – An Overview

Updated Dec 2016.

RVHD1 and RVHD2

This article will provide a concise overview of Rabbit Hemorrhagic Viral Disease, its characteristics, locations, testing methods and some of the preventative steps that can be taken.

History

Rabbit Viral Haemorrhagic Disease 1 is a type of Calicivirus, has been in Europe for many decades or even centuries and affects both wild and domestic rabbits. There are a few different pathogenic strains of the virus but until recently, RVHD1 was thought to be the only type in the UK.

RVHD2 differs in a few key ways as it is unaffected by age and has a longer illness phase with different clinical symptoms. It is also thought to have a lower mortality rate. Little research has been done on RVHD2 and it is highly likely that cases are under reported.

Disease Spread

Both viruses are potentially very easily spread and can live in the environment for a long time (RVHD2 up to 200 days in laboratory conditions) Insects, wildlife and scavengers can spread it as well as direct contact with an infected rabbit. Fomites such as bedding, wild plants, shoes and clothing can also carry the virus to new areas. It is currently unknown if biting insects can spread RVHD2.

Due to it being so easily transported, the spread of RVHD can be very quick and strict biosecurity is recommended as well as vaccination.

Vaccination

The current UK vaccine, Nobivac Myxo-RHD offers protection against RVHD1 but is unlikely to offer any for RVHD2 as this virus is antigenically and genetically different from RVHD1. It is recommended that a second vaccination be given to cover RVHD2 and there are a few options:

  • Eravac has been licensed in the UK for use in ‘fattening’ rabbits. This is an oil based drug with no research showing the possible long term effects and there is currently no recommended vaccination schedule.
  • Cunivak RHD is currently out of stock and Cunipravac can be ordered via a special import certificate however it is only available in large multi dose bottles.
  • Filavac RHD K C+V is available to order from most UK wholesalers and is administered annually or 6 monthly (if considered to be a high risk patient or area). It is vital that the rabbits are still vaccinated with the Nobivac Myxo-RHD as the Filavac vaccine does not give any protection against myxomatosis, however standard immunology advice is to leave at least a 2 week gap between the different vaccinations.

It is important to research all options and discuss with your vet / client. The safety and efficacy of using any other vaccine alongside the Nobivac Myxo RHD has not been studied.

It is not recommended to carry out en-mass vaccination clinics as this could potentially increase the risk of disease spread due to the way RVHD is transmitted.

Testing and Reporting

Its important to consider RVHD2 as a differential diagnosis when dealing with a sick rabbit that doesnt seem to respond to treatment and no obvious reason for the illness is found. PCR testing is now available for live rabbits via the Batt Laboratories in Coventry. For sudden deaths, post mortem liver samples can also be sent here or to the Moredun Research Institute.

Wherever possible, please send samples to either laboratory via the methods outlined on their websites. Please also consider reporting all suspicious deaths to the Rabbit Welfare Association and Fund as their Veterinary Advisor is monitoring the spread of this disease.

Biosecurity

Good husbandry is paramount and sick rabbits should be barrier nursed. Enhanced cleaning, disinfection and quarantine protocols can be implemented in practice and with owners. Anigene HLD4V is a veterinary grade product that is believed to be effective against RVHD when used at a concentration of 1:50 for soiled conditions.

It is vital to be aware of the risks associated with attending events such as rabbit shows, petting zoos and even rescues. Environmental insect controls should also be in place as it is still unknown if RVHD2 can be spread via insects. Care should also be taken when considering feeding handpicked wild plants.

Keeping Up To Date

There is a great group on Facebook where people can report suspected and confirmed cases of RVHD1 & RVHD2. This links to a UK map and it also holds a wealth of information and support – I recommend everyone to join.

You can also visit the Rabbit Welfare Association’s website as they will always have the most up to date and factually correct info.

Lastly, Rabbit Specialist Vet Francis Harcourt Brown (retired) has information about the disease on her website.

Be wary of other reports and anecdotal stories doing the rounds as they may not be factually accurate. Also, please contact your own vet asap so they are fully aware of the new RVHD2 strain and that they are stocking and advertising the new vaccine to help fight this. We need owners to insist all their vets order in the vaccine to get as many rabbits as possible protected against this fatal disease.

Please know how to keep your rabbits safe and spread the word!

 

 

 

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Keeping Outdoor Pets Safe

Sadly our gardens may not be as safe as we think they are. Many owners of small pets will be aware of potential problems from predators such as foxes, cats and dogs but are unaware of the threat from other humans.

There has been a sharp rise in incidents over the past few years where rabbits (and other small furries) have been stolen from gardens. The reasons behind this are varied and vile. Many are stolen to use as bait for dog fights, or for their fur coats. Sometimes children have been deliberately taking pets to ‘play’ with and others have been stolen out of malice.

So I urge ALL pet owners to ensure their gardens are as safe as possible, not only from the threat of natural predators, but from humans too. There are a range of things you can do:

  1. Secure Enclosures.
    It may sound obvious, but if you have a small furry then make sure it is always INSIDE a secure environment that is fully enclosed. Its vital they have room to exercise so make sure it meets the RWAF minimum size guidelines (for rabbits). If you let your rabbits free range then please ONLY do so whilst you are also in the garden to supervise them.
  2. Padlocks.
    Make sure that both the pets enclosures AND the garden gates are secured using heavy duty padlocks. Also make sure you have a spare set of these keys in a safe but easily accessible place in the house in case of emergency.
  3. Garden Fencing.
    Its important that your fencing is secure and at least 6ft tall. You can add trellis on to the top of fencing to make it even higher. Then, grow thorny plants like roses or blackberries up the fence to make it more uncomfortable for people to climb over. You can also use prikka strips, which are hard rubber spikes that attach to the tops of fences. This is mainly to stop cats entering your garden but it can also help deter humans.
  4. CCTV.
    Although it will not physically stop anyone from entering your garden, it can be a good visual deterrent. Also, it can be useful in capturing evidence if someone does manage to get in. You can also use posters / stickers on the outside of the fence to show that CCTV is in operation.
  5. Lighting.
    Movement activated flood lights can be a good deterrent. have them pointed at the garden gate / back door rather than directly at the rabbits enclosure otherwise the bunnies will keep setting the light off!
  6. Neighborhood Watch Schemes.
    Anyone can sign up to start a scheme and these can be very beneficial to the whole street. Posters and stickers can be obtained that clearly show that the houses are part of a scheme. This can act as a good deterrent for people looking for mischief.
  7. Rubbish Bins.
    Don’t store your bins outside your garden fence as this makes it easier for someone to climb over the fence!

So make sure you are doing everything you can to keep your pets safe. Never leave them in the garden free range if they are unsupervised and take as many steps as possible to keep your garden and all its contents secure.

 

 

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NEW UK Rabbit Vaccine – RVHD2

Background

RVHD and Myxomatosis are diseases found throughout the UK and can be fatal to un-vaccinated rabbits. Both outdoor AND indoor rabbits are at risk. RVHD in particular is highly infectious and contagious.  It is an air borne virus that can be spread by direct and indirect contact with infected rabbits, food bowls, hutches and even the soles of your shoes. For example – if you, your dog or cat has walked on ground where a VHD infected rabbit has been, you can carry it on your clothes or shoes, your other pets can carry it on fur or feet. The virus can survive in the environment for a long time and can survive cold temperatures far better than you might expect.

 

Current Situation

The following info comes direct from the Rabbit Welfare Association and Fund. It was released in a ‘First Alert’ email. This service sends out an email whenever there is an important update in the rabbit world. You can register by emailing hq@rabbitwelfare.co.uk and you can join the RWAF here.
“As you may know, over the past year there has been an increasing concern regarding RVHD “new variant 2” becoming a cause of deaths in several outbreaks in the UK. Whilst it has been noted in the UK in research papers (Westcott and Choudhury) for at least 2 years, it has clearly become a significant clinical entity in the past few months.
As a result, the RWAF, with valuable assistance from the APLA, Ann Pocknell (Finn Pathologists), Mark Stidworthy and Daniela Denk (IZVG) and Tariq Abou-Zahr (Great Western Referrals) have been putting together a disease risk assessment.
We (RWAF) have now successfully established an SIC (Special Import Certificate) for a suitable EU member state vaccine, Cunivak RHD, and placed an order for a small number of vaccines to establish an ordering system into the UK.
Vets can order their own supplies from VMD.  If they require any further information, they should contact the RWAF at hq@rabbitwelfare.co.uk and we will pass on any veterinary queries to our vet, Mr Saunders,  but they should be aware that he may be dealing with a high volume of email. A more detailed explanation of the above should be available in Vet Times and Vet Record soon.”
What This Means For Owners.
 Firstly – please note that NO emails from owners about this topic will be passed to Dr Saunders. he will be dealing with Vet emails only due to the high volume of contact.
So for owners – this means you will need to ask your vets to order in the new vaccine which will take a few weeks for them to sort out. The new Cunivak vaccine is NOT a replacement for the current combo vaccine and will need to be given AS WELL AS the Nobivak one. Its important to note that these vaccines CANNOT be given at the same time and need at least a 2 week gap between them.
In total, your rabbit will now require 2 vaccinations (comprising of 3 injections) per year:
1) Nobivak combo – Just one injection covers them for myxomatosis and RHVD1.
2) Cunivak RHVD – 2 injections 3 weeks apart. This covers them against RHVD2.
PLEASE SEE THE MOST UP TO DATE POST RE VACCINE OPTIONS!
You need to leave AT LEAST 2 weeks gap between the different types of vaccines. If you can manage to schedule it so that there is a gap of 4-6 months between vaccines then this would mean your rabbit would have a veterinary health check up approx every 6 months. BUT you don’t HAVE to work to this schedule, just make sure there is at least 2 weeks between vaccines.
Please contact your vets and ask them to start the process of ordering in the new Cunivak RHD vaccine. Most vets will not be aware that they can do this as the information has only just been released. But the quicker you contact them, the quicker they can get up to speed and get the vaccines in stock. If your vets are unsure, please advise them to email hq@rabbitwelfare.co.uk for more info. As per the RWAF first alert above, this information will be released in veterinary publications in the coming weeks.
Summary.
If your rabbit is vaccinated with the Nobivac combi vaccine AND the Cunivak vaccine, they will have been vaccinated against Myxo, RHVD1 and RHVD2. As always, no vaccination is 100% effective and it does not mean your pet will not contract the disease. However, it does mean they have a chance to be treated and survive these normally fatal illnesses.
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Fashion Before Welfare AGAIN! – London Fashion week 2015

We all know that fashion and animal welfare do not often go together well. However, a designer at this years London Fashion Week has taken things a step too far.

Markus Lupfer is a German born designer who is most famous for his knitwear. Sadly, his collections include angora products…but this is not the main point of this post (it just adds to his lack of regard for rabbit welfare).

With a worldwide following that includes celebrities, this fashionista decided to “bring a woodland experience to an urban environment so people could re-connect with nature”…well that sounds alright doesnt it?

But does this LOOK alright?

Markus Lupfer Rabbit Abuse

Markus Lupfer Rabbit Abuse

Cue the glass balls hanging from the ceiling, partially filled with straw and 2 young rabbits dumped inside. Cameras flashing, people laughing, inadequate ventilation, nowhere to hide and no obvious clean source of water, room to move or decent food source. Sounds more like a horror scene for those poor rabbits than a wonderful interaction. Oh and don’t forget the fact that they got plucked out to be held by models for 15 minutes at a time for the photo opportunities.

These poor rabbits look extremely young although Markus Lupher will not declare their exact age. Oh and they were from a breeder, not a rescue, just to add extra insult.

Social media came alive with tweets (@markuslufer) and status’s exclaiming how wonderful this ‘show’ was, how cute the rabbits were, how clever the designer was and how its inspired people to go buy a rabbit *sigh*. Not a second thought was given to the welfare of those poor creatures, hung in a glass bowl for the humans entertainment. Not far off a circus act really.
Section 9 of the Animal Welfare Act 2006 places a duty of care on people to ensure they take reasonable steps in all the circumstances to meet the welfare needs of their animals to the extent required by good practice. This is upheld by the RSPCA and they can prosecute people who are found to breech these conditions. In my opinion, this ‘show’ clearly breaks at least 4 of the 5 freedoms mentioned in the act. For reference, here are the 5 freedoms:

1) Freedom from hunger and thirst.
By providing enough fresh water and the right type and amount of food to keep them fit.

2) Freedom from discomfort.
Making sure that animals have the right type of environment including shelter and somewhere comfortable to rest.

3) Freedom from pain, injury and disease.
     By preventing them from getting ill or injured and by making sure animals are diagnosed and treated rapidly if they do.

4) Freedom to behave normally.
     By making sure animals have enough space, proper facilities and the company of other animals of their own kind.

5) Freedom from fear and distress.
By making sure their conditions and treatment avoid mental suffering.

Luckily the good people of the world quickly saw the true horror of this publicity stunt and started to retaliate. The social media comments started to turn, welfare questions were asked, responses were sought and the ‘show’ was questioned. The Markus Lupfer facebook page quickly grew with over 60 complaints in a matter of hours. Twitter was also awash with negative comments regarding the debacle. I even had a fashion journalist ask me for more information on the Animal Welfare Act as she was unaware of the problems but wanted to know more.

The turning of the tide has prompted Markus Lupfer to release a ‘legal statement’ with regards to the use of the rabbits. In my opinion, this is a cop out that just forces the ‘blame’ onto the so called animal welfare company that was supposedly present the whole time. I have previously had my doubts about the qualifications of these so called ‘welfare companies’ who attend filming and public appearances to safe guard the animals. This clearly does not happen with rabbits when you consider the last few things like the Mcvities Ad, the PDSA ad and now this fashion extravaganza. If these ‘experts’ truly understood rabbit behavior then these things would not have been allowed to happen.

Markus Lupfer Legal Statement

Markus Lupfer Legal Statement

This is the second time in just a matter of months that a so called ‘artist’ has used live rabbits in an unacceptable way to gain publicity. Anne Imhof presented an art exhibition in the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Giant rabbits were placed in tiny perspex cubes whilst dancers roamed around the cage banging metal rods. Just awful. You can read more about it here.

Anne Imhof Rabbit Abuse. Photo from tumblr

Anne Imhof Rabbit Abuse. Photo from tumblr

So….let nip this in the bud and get the message out there that animal abuse for the sake of art, fashion or human entertainment is NOT right and will NOT be accepted. Easter is fast approaching and I fear more stunts like this will appear which will also add to the suffering of yet more rabbits being bought on a whim as an Easter gift, many resulting in a silent suffering, tortuous existence.

Please share this information, help to raise the awareness and also consider sending polite complaints to London Fashion Week, Markus Lupfer, Anne Imhof and any other ‘artists’ who deem their work to be more important than animal welfare. Dont forget to also lodge a formal complaint with the RSPCA if you deem any of the 5 freedoms to have been broken (this only applies in the UK. You can contact the SSPCA in Scotland).

Lets shout loud about rabbit welfare and help make a difference.

 

 

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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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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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Expose: Freeads Easter Bunny Special

Freeads Easter Promotion

Freeads Easter Promotion

Where do we start…

Internet sales and ‘free’ advertising has boomed over the past few years. Unfortunately its not just old furniture and games that are on offer. Many of these sites will happily let the general public sell all sorts of animals including rabbits. Hundreds and thousands of rabbits.

Some sellers are more genuine and truly need to re home their pet. However,  many ads are actually rabbit breeders that are purely making money in theonline trade of livestock. There are even ads that state they are happy to swap a puppy for a mobile phone! Many of these animals are in bred, ill and often die before their 1st birthday.

This has been a rising problem and luckily, there is now a group of individuals (with representatives from many different animal charities) who are monitoring these sites and sales. The Pet Advertising Advisory Group (PAAG) has set up a list of 18 minimum standards that are endorsed by DEFRA. These standards aim to reduce the amount of unsuitable animal adverts and weed out the ‘bad’ sellers. This does, of course, rely on the selling websites signing up to the minimum standards, monitoring and removing unsuitable posts.

So there is light at the end of the tunnel and changes are slowly being made. However, when Freeads decide to run this kind of Easter Promotion, a lot of good work is undone. The above photo shows the worst kind of message. Cheap to advertise, cheap to buy, single rabbits and very unsuitable hutch accommodation – all perfect for your kids at Easter 🙁

If you agree that pets should not be sold online without the websites and the sellers having to adhere to strict welfare guidelines, then please consider contacting DEFRA, your local council and the individual selling sites to politely point this out.

And of course…boycott the sites that will not comply!

 

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