More pet rabbits than ever are suffering from neglect and mistreatment, according to the Scottish SPCA’s Angus centre.
Rising concern about the frequency with which the pets seem to be forgotten has prompted the animal welfare charity to launch Rabbit Awareness Week, which will run from July 16 to 22.
The SSPCA is also keen to encourage existing and would-be owners in Angus to consider taking on a rescue rabbit as the number of abandoned, unwanted and neglected pets coming into its care steadily increasing over the last four years.
Sharon Comrie, manager of the charity’s Angus animal rescue and rehoming centre, said that last year staff in the county and Tayside area had rescued 116 rabbits and the rate at which rabbits are passing through the centre this year shows no sign of slowing.
She said: “This year is proving to be very challenging as well and this worrying trend demonstrates why we need to raise awareness of the hardships many pet rabbit face.
“There are lots of loving rabbit owners who treat their pets like one of the family and give them all the care and attention they need. But sadly this isn’t true in all cases.
“Some rabbits arrive in our care in a terrible state having been denied basic nutrition and veterinary attention, while others are sadly forgotten pets children have grown tired of.
“Thankfully, the severe cruelty cases are in the minority. The biggest issue is rabbits being put in a hutch and left at the bottom of the garden, with many enduring a life of solitude and boredom. Often the only interaction they have is a brief visit from their owner to bring food and water. Many owners even find this to be a chore and it is these rabbits which tend to be dumped outdoors or handed into one of our rescue centres unwanted.
“While we never encourage taking on a pet on impulse, we do have 10 rabbits at our centre looking for good, permanent homes.”
Ms Comrie also said that anyone thinking of rehoming a rabbit should make sure they have the time, commitment and financial ability to ensure it enjoys a healthy and happy life.
She added: “Rabbits are highly intelligent, sociable and can make fantastic family pets, though we strongly advise parents that they and not their children need to take responsibility for its welfare. Pets are not toys and should never be given on a whim or as a gift.
“We’d be delighted to welcome potential owners along to our rescue centres to meet the rabbit we have waiting for a fresh start in life and loving new homes.”
The Scottish SPCA’s Angus, Fife and Tayside Animal Rescue and Rehoming Centre is open 10am to 4pm daily. For more information call 03000 999 999 or visit scottishspca.org/rehoming.