We are approaching Easter 2017. It is yet again when social media is now flooded by a ill presented solution lacking in information and legislative help. I’m taking about Easter Rabbits. Now there are plenty of articles on the resurrection and Jesus out there, and I will continue writing those. He is, after all, the Love of my life who literally saved me from suicide. But I want to take this Easter to include a article In the midst of updating about His creation.
Back in 2014 when I wrote this article, I also had to say farewell for the first time to a rabbit—my rabbit of nine years. She was the sweetest rabbit I probably will ever know: small, silver, gentle, a licker. Don’t get me wrong, I love my lil grumpy, grunts floof. He just wasn’t raised with kindness as she was from babyhood. Whenever I had a bad day and came home, she was there waiting for me, always ready to be petted, fed, and cuddled. Helping her out of pain at the end of her life was one of the most heart-wrenching decisions of my life. I still see her eyes at peace looking up, so trusting of me even as death approached. I loved her and was doing what was best for her, but I was teary-eyed and sobbing, kissing her little head, when she died.
Although some might think I would have buyer’s remorse to adopt another rabbit soon thereafter, I am the kind of person who does not want to be without the love of a pet. As I sought out a new companion, I was delighted to find Jango, a roughly one-year-old Flemish Lop, (now 4-5) to whom I gave a real home. His first expression when I brought him to my apartment was intense worry and fear. I had rescued him (through an adoption agency) from a harsh meat farm where I believe people had kicked him, for he was afraid of my legs or feet. He had been kept in a cramped cage with many other bunnies. A loving adoption agency rescued Jango and responsibly neutered, loved, and petted him. At just the right time, we were introduced. He loved running round his new, carpeted home with TOYS, which he had never known before. He thrived with space, loving discipline, gentle human hands, and a patient human voice. I saw him transform from a scared, cringing rabbit to a rabbit doing binkies and race tracking around his space. However, not all rabbits are so fortunate, and I would like to introduce you to the reasons why.
What is the reason for the plight?
The plight occurs for several reasons. The main reason is lack of education and well presented information, with information distributed only beyond niches of small rabbit societies and rescue/adoption agencies. Abuse occurs in international trade due to a lack of education in the very educational groups that raise this animal. Moreover, no connection exists with young and old writers, filmmakers, and networkers, who could assist in a campaign of awareness. Unfortunately corporations, companies, groups, and media contribute to a widespread problem instead of promoting the changes needed.
Many people just see baby bunnies. They don’t see what happens to the bunnies after they are rejected and turned in to the ASPCA. Though Petroglyphs has discontinued its humane education department, its website estimates about “3-4 million rabbits are euthanized per annum.” In an online article published by the BBC, the RSPCA claimed that 35,000 rabbits are abandoned in England and Wales per annum.
Abuse and Use
Abuse is not only verbal. It can be physical and emotional as I saw with my newly adopted rabbit. People think they are getting at the pet store a rabbit from a reputable breeder. The problem is that the term “reputable breeder” is not clearly defined. A number of bunnies are from farms where the grounds can flood and whole clans die, as I read on one breeder’s site, or from a very young person in 4-H, who is learning the basics of breeding, but not required to take rabbits for a wellness exam at a veterinary clinic.
Unfortunately, as an adoption agency employee shared with me, rabbits raised on meat farms can live in places where the unsuspecting public mistakenly thinks the owners just love rabbits. Innumerable meat rabbits are kept in close quarters with other rabbits. They are handled roughly, hit or kicked, and kept in cages that cause sores and infections on their feet. Cramped quarters cause boredom in these intelligent critters which have personalities and muscles for running and jumping. According to Google, not many restaurants serve rabbit meat, but there were or may still be such places in the United States on the East Coast in Philadelphia and New York as Saro Bistro, Glasserie, Café China, Al Mar, The Marrow, I Sodi, Maialino, and Marlow & Sons that serve rabbits as meat. Plus (just in) Kismet in Southern California. I am a rabbit owner and will not eat rabbit meat, but I do applaud the rise of awareness in the culinary world to not be wasteful with meats. Restaurants like to advocate they do not deal with the “ill-reputed” meat farms and try to use all they can when they purchase the meat. However, there are some who do not believe there is a distinction between quality of meat farms. It was, for me extremely heartbreaking to watch this video, which understandably may outrage or bring to tears, that I found on YouTube, if you find yourself able to at all: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E2UHnOsfxhw&oref=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.youtube.com%2Fwatch%3Fv%3DE2UHnOsfxhw&has_verified=1
Even Whole Foods for a time several years ago was considering selling domestic-bred rabbit at their grocery stores because it is a cheap commodity in part because the animal breeds quickly. Abuse stays hidden behind closed doors from media, for rabbits are not considered livestock or poultry like cows or chickens. The meat is widely renowned for its healthy Omega-3 acids and the efficient 5-6 pounds of meat per animal. An ABC news article claims that a rabbit “using the same amount of food and water a cow needs to produce a pound of meat. . . can produce six pounds.” As a taxpayer and a bunny owner, I desire to eliminate rabbits from the menu and applaud HFA.org for their PSA on awareness that our tax dollars reimburse farmers who neglect and abuse their livestock.
Some people think it is funny to joke with rabbit owners about cooking pet rabbits, and I cannot express just how angry and sad that makes us. I have heard the words so many times that I sometimes want to just turn around to the person who cracks the joke and ask how his or her dog or cat tastes, or even so far as their kids. No one jokes about that! If, however, the joker is unaware, feel free to pass along this article, not to guilt them, but to educate and bring (hopefully) a positive change. There are a few meat farms that are dubbed “reputable,” mainly selling overseas to European countries. One of the largest in California, Devils Gulch Ranch, is located in Marin County in California. News articles within the past four years prior to 2014, in the UK and US, including CNN and ABC (2013-14), are drawing attention to the plight of ignorance. Freedom for Farmed Rabbits posted: “Global rabbit meat consumption in 2004 was 1.1 million tonnes. Approximately half this amount comes from meat farms.” I estimate that is equal to 44,000 eighteen-wheelers, weight wise. Half of what meat farms provide would equal 22,000 eighteen-wheelers filled with rabbit meat. The standard size of a 53 for trailer equals 630 inches long by 102 inches wide. If you multiply these by 44,000 one gets 2,827,440,000 inches which google converts to 235,620,000 feet. That in turn, google converts to 71816.976 Km (kilometers squared) which, in comparison with the 125 largest cities in the Word would be closest in size to 8 of New York City (ranking the largest of all 125 cities) put together. (71,816 divided by NY’s 8,683 square Km).
Rabbits are used, of course, in testing cosmetics and various drugs. Statistic Brain’s website estimates that “245,786 rabbits are tested annually.” The Office of Research Integrity and PETA tell of the unnecessary treatment and abuse of rabbits despite new methods and alternatives available: “Since the eyes of the rabbit are large and do not have tear ducts, eye irritancy tests (the Draize test) for various household and cosmetic products have been conducted since 1944. Due to large scale protests in the 1970s and 1980s use of the Draize test has declined; the cosmetic industry has been instrumental in seeking alternatives.” (Reference below at Origin.hhs.gov) Some say that alternatives for the Draize test have been in process since the 70s. Other sites also show that rabbits are still used for the Draize eye-irritancy test, having such things as dishwashing soap or drain cleaner put on their eyes, causing chemical burns on rabbits eyes. No, they don’t apply mascara to these animals eyelashes.
Unfortunately, labs also use other small animals like rats and guinea pigs. In 2014 when I first wrote this article, the following top ten companies needed to hear from consumers who want unnecessary animal testing to stop: L’Oreal, Estee Lauder, Procter & Gamble, Clorox, Johnson & Johnson, S.C. Johnson, Colgate-Palmolive, Reckitt Benckiser, Church & Dwight, Unilever, and Dial/Henkel, referenced in crueltyfreekitty URL at bottom. It was not hard to find four websites with lists of brands that do not test on animals:
List of Companies That DON’T Test on Animals
It’s been very pleasant to discover since then more and more brands and have some pleasant conversations with employees at different make up companies such as Sephora as well as others who are on board and pro cruelty free brands as well as vegan. I have personally found a handful of favorite brands under the leapingbunny.org from chapstick to laundry detergent that I love.
To us, even if we love animals, the problem seems a bit distant. Most people do not know rabbits make sounds. They make a “chunnering noise” somewhat similar to a cat’s purr when happy and content. Rabbits whimper when they are scared, scree as a sign of dominance, chew on cage bars, hiccup, sneeze and snore adorably, and scream when they are in pain. It is hard to imagine the sound of countless rabbits crying out in pain. We leave such an horrific scenario to film screens for human pain. http://www.respectforanimals.co.uk/facts-and-reports/how-many-animals-have-to-die-for-a-fur-coat/133/ offers the statistic that 30-40 rabbits are needed to make just one fur coat. The prized breeds that popped up in my research are Rex or Orylag–breeds of rabbits that experience their fur ripped out by the handful for the sake of fashion. http://www.lcanimal.org/index.php/campaigns/fur/fur-trade-facts reveals: “Each year, more than 1 billion rabbits and 50 million other animals — including foxes, seals, mink and dogs — are raised on fur farms or trapped in the wild and killed for their pelts. ” It made me sick and cry to have watched about where rabbits are kept, grabbed, kit baby bunnies tossed in dumpsters and that some vets who were called to take a look at some of them were not appalled at the facility but actually handled the animals with lack of care as well. As a conscious steward of keeping this planet, peta had an article informing in Fact #6: “Fur farms harm the environment. One million pounds of feces are produced annually by U.S. mink farms alone. One dangerous component of this waste is nearly 1,000 tons of phosphorus, which pollutes nearby rivers and streams.” http://www.peta.org/features/nine-shocking-fur-facts/
Housing rabbits is another problem. Too many rabbits who are adopted for Easter are put down or end up in the aforementioned ASPCA, shelters, or adoption agencies if fortunate enough. A significant percentage of people rent apartments. In my eight years in San Jose, California, I found one of the two apartments in the huge city that would even be happy to allow rabbits. One apartment complex, where I rented, was happy simply to have my rent money. The other apartment that I considered was owned by a person with a rabbit and knowledge about rabbits as pets. All the others complained of three things: they would smell, they would chew, they would be noisy. People did not accept a little extra money, a written agreement, nothing! Cats smell more than rabbits do. Both are or can be litter-box trained. Unlike some guineapigs—similarly sized pets—rabbits are incredibly quiet.
Giving a rabbit a healthy, happy home may cost an estimated $400-$730 per year. This does not include emergency vet bills for anything from broken bones, to hairballs they physically cannot throw up like a cat because they’re not brushed, to bacteria or mites causing respiratory, digestive or skin and ear problems. Unfortunately, truly healthy food for rabbits such as Nature’s Benefits, along with Pet Mountain and Vita Kraft, have been discontinued from major pet store chains, because feeding healthy food without chemicals and food coloring supposedly is just not popular enough. To help owners keep their rabbits healthy, a list of rabbit-knowledgeable clinics/vet clinics can be found on http://rabbit.org/vet-listings/ . It lists all 50 states. However, I noticed that only 48 out of the 50 states have rabbit vets, and big states such as South Dakota only had one listing back in 2014. Because rabbits have special needs that are not recognized and trained veterinarians are so few, I had the horrible experience of watching my nine-year-old rabbit in pain through the night, not eating and not taking water because the animal hospitals in the area were closed and the emergency clinics had no doctors who specialized in rabbits–only cats and dogs. Rabbits need a different anesthesia than cats and dogs require. The closest option for me was two towns away when I lived in San Jose.
Although many people have cars, many others rely on the bus or train for more economic travel. This can cause distress when rabbit owners need to get their pet to a knowledgeable veterinarian or take their pet on vacation. Currently, one can bring a dog or cat on an airplane in a carrying case in first class. The other and better mode of travel for rabbits–trains and busses—are quite unyielding of ANY pets with the exception of guide dogs: Amtrak, Greyhound, Mega Bus Gold, Bolt Bus, Lux Bus, VA Moose Bus, Tripper Bus, Caltrain, Metra Rail, Red Coach, and NICDT. The only exceptions thus far that I have found are BART (California), the MARC train (Maryland), and VRE (Virginia). It is a shame that so many busses and trains seem unsupportive of the needs of rabbits, for these modes of transportation could benefit both owners and small furry pets.
As mentioned, a person can bring a dog or cat on an airplane in a carrying case in first class; however, upon broaching the topic of bringing a rabbit, one hears an uproar concerning allergies. Although many baby rabbits probably are shipped in the cargo holds of planes, thanks to the Internet age and the ability to purchase pets from other countries, the exposure to the noise of loud jet engines is not good for rabbits’ hearing. Interestingly, some of the airlines that advertise themselves as pet friendly for rabbits include the following: Aerosvit Airlines, AirBaltic, Air Europa, Alaskan Airlines, All Nippon Airways, Copa Airlines, Czech Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Emirates SkyCargo, EVA Airways, Finnair, Frontier Airlines, Japan Airlines, Jet Airways (India), Nok Airlines, United Air Lines, and Westlet. (http://wabbitwiki.com/Rabbit-Friendly_Airlines–A site that has since left the internet between 2014-2017.) Transportation’s efforts of change would assist the needs of those wanting to adopt rabbits. Or someone starting a transportation solely for pet adoption agencies not limited to small animals– a pet only train only for adoptees through legit adoption agencies.
Adoption Agencies AND Pet Stores
Sadly, I see adoption agencies as part of the problem. This is where my “well presented information” comment in the beginning comes in to play. Though I have NO regrets at giving Jango, my now nearly 5 year old independent personality Flemish Lop and faithful alarm clock with whom I share breakfast time and evening conversation and ever traumatic grooming sessions, followed by his favorite wild berry yogurt treat, a great home, I still see issues present with the agencies. Most recent? The “adopt, don’t shop” slogan. I get that they’re trying to get people to discourage buying from pet stores because often the kits ARE taken from their mothers way too early and end up with health issues. People just purchase from pet stores uneducated about rabbits and dump them in the wild, thinking wrongly that domestic rabbits are just like wild bunnies. These bunnies either die or end up at shelters or are rescued by the adoption agencies. Seeing all the cruelty and ignorance these adoption agencies do, I, at least have experienced being treated like I was one of those horrible kind of people. They forget sometimes there are people with kind hearts. They forget that some people are in dire situations and instead of inquiring into the humans situation or offer possible solution in the adoption process or are so overwhelmed with rabbits they don’t pay heed that the human is trying their best. All of it basically sums up that there is much need to assess before judging, a number of agency individuals try to me and other legit cases feel like the skum of the earth, or not being attentive or thirdly that temporary homes for the rabbits to be adopted, the temp families get attached and those very interested in the rabbit are not even given a chance to see if they would be a good fit together.
The adoption agencies now have this “adopt, don’t shop” which I had to ask the reasoning, to which I did not receive reply. Therefore, I dug and finally discovered through a wayward video interview which I cannot re-find to include as reference, that’s how obscure things are to find. I went back through my social media feed AND typed to try and find on YouTube. The positioned belief is (at least by one representative to this mindset) is that one would not get anywhere to far by limiting the pet stores legally/ via legislation. Yet news has shown recent years crackdown on abusive pet owners not being able to own pets. Adoption agencies and advocates are throwing out this slogan without ANY solution or information forefront about what would or will happen to pet store rabbits. All this from advocates for the “education” route. This presents a representative face that can well be interpreted as being not for all bunnies, but only bunnies-through-us kind of mentality which makes thinking people wonder how such a move aligns with their core values.
I respect what they are striving for. I see the effects of what meat farm life had psychological done to my rabbit from birth. A recent recurring wave of recognition to puppy mills selling to supposedly legit pet stores has also swept the internet at the beginning months of 2017 here. However, I disagree education disjointed from legislation is effective. I saw my sweet girl rabbit’s need for mommy when I first got her from the pet store. Pet stores remain one of the few places for adoption agencies to showcase and host adoption events. From a business and negotiation perspective, this does not seem smart, though I agree with the need for pet stores to have regulations for pets. Ever wonder why pet store Beta fish look the most depressed as opposed to the fish in bigger tanks?
Promotion by the Arts
Encouragingly, efforts on the Internet and Facebook by networking educational organizations, individuals, and adoption agencies are making an effort to promote, help, and inform. Even I didn’t know September 26 or 28 is International Rabbit Day. Yet, there are still too many rabbits put into shelters (recently estimated at 80% are abandoned and many end up in shelters. See huffington article included), raised at meat farms, and dying before enjoying a natural lifespan of 8-15 years. I see ways that I and others can help raise awareness through film and writing. Recounting the numbers given in this article, you have well over 1,004,245,786 rabbits who die each year in all these industries estimated by research for this article two years ago, compared monolithically to the number of adoption agencies fighting on behalf of these bunnies. I look forward to others joining in helping these wonderful critters so full of love and personality. Rabbits sweetly haunt our dreams of chocolate and new life during a holiday that is centered thematically on life, and rabbits appear with good attributes on the Chinese Zodiac. Yet we have given neither life nor sweet dreams to the very animals that warm our hearts and teach us. It is time we used our ears to do something to stop their plight.