Tag: welfare

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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LagoLearn – Rabbit Specific Training for Veterinary Professionals

www.lagolearn.com

I have previously written about the fact that good, rabbit savvy vets can be very hard to find (see here) So now I’m going to focus on a new company that has been formed to bridge the knowledge gap.

LagoLearn Ltd is unique because it is currently the only company that focuses on rabbit only training. They provide a range of teaching events that are suitable for all student and qualified veterinary professionals including animal support staff (ANA’s and VCA’s) who often get overlooked and are not allowed to attend some training because they are not a vet or a nurse. LagoLearn know how important it is for all practice staff to be aware of rabbits welfare and care needs so are happy to welcome them to their training days.

All of the teaching is carried out by experts in their field. Dr Ivan Crotaz BVetMed is one of the company directors and teachers. He has a special interest in anaesthesia, airway management and surgery and is an accomplished teacher having provided lectures throughout the UK, Europe and the USA. A selection of well known rabbit specialist vets and nurses will also be lecturing at some of the events along with other expert individuals.

Rabbit Roundup CPD 13th Oct

Rabbit Roundup CPD on 13th Oct at Easthampstead Park, Berkshire

The day course format consists of main lectures and small group teaching where delegates are split into vet and nurse groups to work through case studies, problem solving and practical skills that are most relevant to their job. Topics covered will include anaesthesia, surgery, dentistry, husbandry, nurse clinics and making your practice more rabbit friendly and much more!

These events will be running throughout the UK and also Internationally too. The next event is on the 13th Oct 2016 at the beautiful Easthampstead Park. It is one of the ‘Rabbit Roundup’ events that provide a useful overview of the most common issued faced by general practice vets and how to treat them. This day also has a special lecture that highlights the current RVHD2 crisis. See here for more information about this course.

Supreme PetfoodsLagoLearn are sponsored by Supreme Petfoods and are proud to be working with them as they both share a passion for improving rabbit welfare. They are the only company to currently provide a range of ethically sourced extruded and monoforage rabbit feeds that have the highest percentage of crude fibre available (Science Selective Adult contains 25%, Fibafirst contains <30% and the VetCare Plus products range from 28% to 34%) and no added sugar.

So make sure to mention LagoLearn to your vets and get them to sign up to their mailing list by emailing contact@lagolearn.com as well as following them on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram and even YouTube! Feel free to also send them photos of your happy healthy bunnies and use the hashtags #lagolearn and #rabbitcpd

 

 

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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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Premier Small Animal Show – Good Advice or Promoting Abuse?

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EDIT: 4.2.16 – Burgess have announced they will no longer support the Harrogate Show. Thank you Burgess for making a stand for rabbit welfare.
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Widely promoted as ‘the UK’s biggest small animal show’, the Burgess Premier Small Animal show has been held in Harrogate since 1921. It is a meet up for breeders of rabbits, guinea pigs, rats, chinchillas and more who enjoy showing the best of their stock and hope to come away as winners. As my expertise is in rabbits – this will be the species I focus on here. The Guardian has posted an interesting article on the most recent 2016 show.

 

BUT AT WHAT PRICE?

Rabbit handling at the 2007 Excel show in Harrogate. CC:BY-NC-ND

  Rabbit handling at the 2007 Excel show in Harrogate. CC:BY-NC-ND.

Photos from the event and those from previous events (see above), show some common handling techniques used at shows. For example, rabbits being held on their backs. This is called ‘trancing’ or ‘tonic immobility’. This has been proven to be very stressful for rabbits (as well as increasing the risk of a back injury). As they are prey species, this is an auto response they enter when tipped over. See here for more info on trancing. Many people use this method of handling for checking, grooming and judging rabbits and many refuse to change their ways and disregard the scientific facts. Many top organizations and specialists do not agree with trancing, including The Rabbit Welfare Association and Fund (RWAF) who are the UK’s largest organization dealing with domestic rabbit welfare.

The British Rabbit Council (BRC) are the UK governing body for fur and fancy rabbits. When previously questioned about trancing, they were adamant that this was NOT a part of their routine handling – yet it seems, this happens all too often AND at BRC approved events by BRC approved judges.

Also some of these photos show that the judge is grasping the ears as part of the support / restraint. This method can easily cause damage and pain to the rabbit and is not recommended as a standard form of acceptable and safe handling.

 

BUT SURELY THE ENCLOSURES ARE OK?

Example of show cages. 2007

        Example of show cages in 2007

Sadly not – as you can see they are tiny, one rabbit per cage, wood shavings for bedding, some don’t even have food and / or hay (hay and fresh water should be available to a rabbit 24/7). Thankfully no cages were observed that did not have a water available. Each rabbit can be stuck in these cages for many hours, some will spend the entire day there. Surely this doesn’t meet the Five Freedoms welfare standards? Is this even legal if you consider the Animal Welfare Act 2006?

 

Wire floor show cage

         Wire floor show cage

The photo above (taken by me in 2007) shows the types of cages that the long haired rabbits have to sit in. They have wire bottoms as clearly shown in the picture. Wire floors are not recommended by welfare organizations and rabbit specialists as they can cause pain and damage to the feet. See this RSPCA factsheet for more information on rabbit accommodation.

Next question… where do they stay overnight? That’s another thing I urge you to ask the show organizers. At this particular event a message was shared publicly to the exhibitors explaining that the animals would have to spend the whole of the first evening in their travel boxes as the venue was not safe due to weather problems. Yes the weather is not under anyone’s control, but is it fair to keep an animal in a traveling box overnight? What size are these boxes and where were they placed? When staying at a secure venue with no weather problems, where do the rabbits spend the night – in these show cages? or somewhere else.

Many of the rabbits that do have food in with them, are being fed on a muesli diet – again this has been scientifically proven to contribute to dental and digestive problems. If these people care SO much about their live stock – why are they not adhering to basic welfare guidelines and following the most up to date veterinary advice?

The RWAF state that rabbits should live in bonded, neutered pairs, be fed on a good quality diet (not muesli style mixes) and be housed in spacious accommodation that allows at least 3 full hops in any direction. Clearly – show accommodation is NOT adhering to any of these guidelines. What message is this sending the general public who flock to this event? Charities and veterinary professionals work tirelessly to promote good husbandry, handling and welfare – then for a bit of fun and entertainment (for the humans not the animals), these animal shows can do untold damage to the welfare messages in just a few hours.

WHAT ABOUT DISEASE RISKS?

Some diseases are very easily spread between rabbits and other small animals. I’m focusing on one – Viral Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease (RVHD). This is a rapid and often fatal disease that is easily spread from rabbit to rabbit and from human to rabbit too. It has also recently mutated into a second strain that is currently not routinely vaccinated against in the UK. The disease can live in the environment for many weeks and is easily spread on shoes, car tyres, clothes, hands etc. The following statement is displayed on the BRC’s own website with regards to RVHD:

“Clothes should be changed between handling rabbits from different places. Newly arrived rabbits should be quarantined for at least a week before mixing with others, and different clothing worn between established and new groups of rabbits.”

So – take a look at the image of the rabbit show cages again… These rabbits are side by side, above and below many other rabbits from other breeders. The judges wear their ‘coats’ for the whole show and do not change them in-between each rabbit. The judging tables have tablecloths on that are not changed between each rabbit. Do the judges wear gloves? Oh and the public have full access in and out the building, can get right up to the show cages and touch them too. Final question: Why are there no apparent disease risk controls in place?

 

WHAT CAN BE DONE?

I advise anyone who agrees that these types of shows DO NOT promote animal welfare, to contact the companies involved. Burgess are the main sponsor and the BRC are heavily involved.

Thankfully I have seen that Burgess have responded to a tweet today and are “reviewing their involvement with the show” (EDIT: and have WITHDRAWN their support for the show. PLEASE contact Burgess to thank them for putting welfare first).

burgess trance replyPlease do consider contacting Burgess, the show and the BRC directly (via email, Facebook, Twitter, letter etc) to see if you can get answers to some of the questions raised and show your displeasure with the event.

Finally a thank you AGAIN to Burgess for putting welfare first.

 

 

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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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McVities Christmas Cruelty

Ok – so we know McVities put profits before people (see the recent round of redundancies just before Christmas time) but apparently they don’t care much for animal welfare either.

Their NEW Christmas ad is out and storming the world as the cutest thing of all time.

McVities Promoting Rabbit Cruelty

McVities Promoting Rabbit Cruelty

This ‘cute’ commercial shows puppies, kittens, bunnies, ducklings and more all looking festive. So what’s wrong with that I hear some say…

Firstly – advertising sweet, baby critters at Christmas time is a sure fire way to get kids in the mood for a new bundle of joy. Xmas lists all over the world will now have livestock added to them (and some Santa’s will have to search very hard indeed for a baby narwhal).

ANIMALS ARE NOT TOYS!

None of the good charities, rescues or veterinary organisations recommend giving pets as presents. In most cases – its a one way ticket to the rescue shelter in the New Year.

Dont Give Pets as Gifts

Dont Give Pets as Gifts

Secondly – the handling of these poor creatures is awful. Forced to lay on their backs, held by children, wearing clothes and sat in tea cups – do I need to say it again…ANIMALS ARE NOT TOYS! This will ultimately result in some kids (and adults) trying to mis handle their pets to re create a cute photo moment. Stressful for the pet, not fun and not cute.

This nicely leads me on the the third biggest problem. The rabbit. Cute? Yes. Fluffy? Yes. Lots of ‘pester power’ from the children to buy one? Yes. should you buy one? NO!

Rabbits do not make good pets for kids. Period. This particular commercial shows the baby bunny forced to lay on its back on the child’s lap. This is actually called ‘Trancing’ or ‘Tonic Immobility’. It is a hugely stressful state for the rabbit. As a prey species, they pretend to be dead when they think they are being attacked by a predator. They lay there, frozen in fear, heart racing and fearing their death. Still think its cute? Studies have proven that their stress hormone levels also increase at this time (blood cortisol levels). The Rabbit Welfare Association and Fund have been tirelessly fighting to get the right info out into the public space to STOP people from handling rabbits this way. This TV ad has successfully put back all their good work by years! Every filming should have a welfare officer on duty to ensure all animals are treated correctly – I wonder if they had one and if so…I wonder what qualifications they hold as clearly many animals were mishandled here.

And lastly – who wants loads of animal hair on their biscuits anyway?

If like me – you feel the McVities Christmas ad promotes cruel mishandling of animals and encourages the sale of innocent creatures, please consider contacting them to politely let them know. I will be boycotting McVities this year and encourage others to do so. #boycottmcvities

You can also do the same for the advertising agency that created the £1 million ‘masterpiece’ – Grey London and report to the Advertising Standards Agency.

**************************************************************************************************************

McVities have released the following statement:

We can confirm that no animals were harmed in the making of the McVitie’s Victoria Christmas ad. We had a professional vet and handlers
on set overseeing all the filming to ensure the welfare of the animals
was our top priority. The professionals on set have confirmed that in
their opinion the rabbit filmed was absolutely not in a state of tonic
immobility or “trancing”; the camera angles used in the filming are
clearly misleading. However, we understand that the ad could mislead
people into thinking that putting a rabbit on its back is recommended,
when this is not the case. We have therefore taken the decision to
remove this scene in the ad as soon as we can. We’d like to thank anyone
who raised this issue with us and would like to remind the public that
they should follow professional advice as to how to best handle animals
in specific circumstances including from The Rabbit Welfare Association
and Fund – www.rabbitwelfare.co.uk.

 

 

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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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