The Difference Between Pet Rabbits & Farm Rabbits

This is a heated question among people who love rabbits as pets and those who raise them for profit. It becomes a very charged issue that radically divides the two kinds of people who keep bunnies.

I do not think anyone would argue that the bunnies who are farmed and those who are kept as pets are the same exact creature. One simply had the misfortune of being born as fodder for humans and the other was born into a world where he/she was thought of as a pet.

It amazes me the total dichotomy between the two. I think that regardless of which side of the fence you are sitting, you have to admit that it is perfectly OK for people to keep domestic rabbits as pets. Most people do not realize the smart and interactive pet that a bunny is, when kept indoors with the family. A half million rabbit lovers cannot all be crazy.

Rabbits are clearly the third most popular pet nationwide, after dogs and cats (as evidence they are also the third most euthanized animal in shelters). While their percentage of the pet market remains small, it is growing fast.

The problem arises when as in California, where pet rabbits are still classified as livestock, just as the bunnies raised for meat on a farm. Certainly, our society affords life without abuse or torture to all animals and most of all animals kept as pets. I think most people would agree that to cause an animal to suffer needlessly, whether you were going to eat it or not, is not something we want to condone as a society.

We have made it known through our modern laws exactly what animal abuse is. Unfortunately, most of these statues applies mostly to dogs. They may not be tied to a tree or kept inside a too small cage or crate all day. Why is it OK to put a bunny inside a tiny cage 24/7? Is it just because he is still considered livestock? Does that make it OK, especially in light of the fact that bunnies were literally born to run and hop? How could a rabbit not be frustrated and unhappy unable to do the one thing that he was meant to do?

As our country becomes more and more urban, the number of rabbits living on a farm is dwindling. Where as virtually all rabbits raised 50 or 100 years ago were meant to be eaten, now a very large percentage of them are pets from birth. The trend is for the number of lagomorph pets to increase and the number on farms is going down. It is time for a shift in the public attitude.

Since rabbits are still considered “livestock” in our state, it does not have the same requirement that they be spayed/neutered before being adopted out of a Humane Society or shelter, like dogs or cats do. This is ludicrous. Thankfully our local chapter of the House Rabbit Society insures that every rabbit being adopted at every shelter is done. This is not always the case in other areas.

Our leaders need to establish a clear line between farm livestock and our beloved pets. Humane treatment for rabbits is currently laughed at by many parts of the public. That needs to change.

My personal opinion,
The Bunny Guy

Our Government Needs To Act

I work at two local shelters with the rabbits, but I recently became aware that one of the shelters that I volunteer at now has over 600 cats for adoption. This is insane!

Being a registered Libertarian for over 35 years, I am against over-regulation by our government, but I believe that in this case the problem needs to be addressed by them.

When we have way more cats available for adoption than there probably are in all the pets stores in the county, why are we allowing pet stores and breeders to continue to add to the population? Breeders and pet stores for the most part are completely unregulated and I feel that they add to a huge problem in our society.

Tens of thousands of animals are put to sleep every year, while we allow breeders to replace them as fast as they are euthanized. I feel the cost to the public is much more than these “businesses” profit from their adding to the problem.

The few thousands dollars a year that a pet store or breeder makes from selling animals is overshadowed by the cost to our society, in dollars and more. The pet store down the street from my house which was recently raided and closed by the local Humane Society put more than 50 animals into their custody. The store never had very much business and I am sure the paltry profit that they made from their business venture is nothing compared to how much our local shelter will now spend to spay/neuter, provide medical care and house until they become adopted.

The problem is that most of these companies must simply obtain a local business license and they are in business. There are no inspections for for them to ferret out abuse or the horrible living conditions that most of their animals live in. We hear about stories in the news all the time about puppy mills and pet stores being found to have animals living in terrible conditions. I think that this is probably the case for all animals sold in pet shops, not just dogs.

I think that at the very least, these businesses should have to obtain licenses for what they do, just as any other contractor would have to do. Standards could then be enforced through regular inspections and also the numbers that are bred can also be addressed.

When you have 600+ cats in just one local shelter, there is no real reason for more kittens to be bred and sold in the stores. Yet, that is exactly what is happening here in my city right now. I am sure it is the same where you live.

This also applies to rabbits. We have 4-H groups all around this area who are involved in breeding hundreds of rabbits a year, when we have some bunnies who have been sitting in our shelter who have been there for close to 2 years. I can say without reservation that I am sure some of these very bunnies were bred by 4-H people.

Why isn’t the 4-H teaching our children about RESPONSIBLE breeding, where every animal that you produce has a purpose and a home? I know there is a need for this organization in areas where most people work on farms, but here in our city there is not a farm for dozens of miles. The chances of one of these 4-H kids working or living on a farm is slim and none. Shouldn’t we be teaching them to be helping solve this problem of animal over-population, instead of how to add to the problem?

Personally, I would like to see animals being sold in pet stores in only special and tightly controlled situations. I think that anyone that makes more than a certain amount of money from animal breeding needs to have a license and be subject to inspection. There was recently a bill in front of our California legislature to license and inspect all dog groomers. If we can consider this for groomers, why not for breeders? Animal breeders incur a much higher cost on our society than a wayward dog groomer.

I believe that if we were to assess how much money is made from these businesses and then track how much it costs the public in shelter costs, over-population and money spent on these problems, we would find that the expense is much more than the profit.

Our government representatives seem to be on the side of the businesses, but not the public on this issue. We should tell our local representatives that we want steps taken to reel in these pet stores and animal breeders who are currently running amok.

Our local PetCos and PetSmarts no longer sell dogs, cats or rabbits because the public has convinced them that it is a bad idea. They have done this voluntarily, but it should be the law. If we are going to ever solve the pet over-population problem, this very key facet of it must be addressed. Tell your local congressman!
The Bunny Guy

Have You Sentenced Your Rabbit Girl To An Early Death?

In my experience chatting with the public during educational event, I have found that fully 80% of pet rabbits out there are not spayed or neutered. Beyond the fact that spayed/neutered buns make much better pets, for female rabbits to stay unspayed, it is a virtual death sentence.

87% or almost 9 out of 10 unspayed female rabbits will get cancer or tumors in their breasts or uterus by the time they are 4 years old. So this means that if you do not spay your girl bunny, she is very very likely to become very sick and die, long before her prime.

Most rabbits who are properly cared for will live 8-10 years, with some of the smaller breeds living a 10-12 years on average. If you care at all about your pet, why would you be willing to allow her to become painfully ill and suffer such a horrible early death? Especially, when it is not necessary.

I know that when people buy $10 or $20 rabbits at a pet store or elsewhere, they often are shocked when they learn that it will be $200-400 (our local prices) to get them spayed/neutered. From what I have seen out there, the expense usually means that most bunnies end up not having it done.

Even worse, in our area rabbits are still classified as livestock. This means that unlike a dog or cat who must be spayed or neutered before they are adopted from a shelter, by law, rabbits do not have to be fixed before they are adopted.

Some shelters realize the importance of spay/neutering in order to have a successful adoption. Who wants a male bunny who is going to spray all over the place or a female who will eventually become sick. These shelters and rescues make sure every bunny that they adopt has it done.

Our local House Rabbit Society Chapter here in San Diego provides spay and neuters for bunnies at a half dozen shelters in the county. They raise and spend tens of thousands of dollars each year to insure that every rabbit being adopted has the surgery.

This is a huge undertaking, but critical for the rabbits. Their behaviors are usually a lot better after spay/neuter, which makes the likelyhood of success a lot higher for the adoption. Litter box training is a breeze after bunnies are fixed and it tones down male aggressiveness, just as in other species.

Yet, in light of all the benefits of having your pet rabbit spayed/neutered, most of them are not. We must change the way the public looks at having their pet bunnies fixed, because spay/neuter is part of responsible pet ownership for ALL animals.

Have you sentenced your female pet rabbit to an early death? Have her spayed NOW, before it is too late.