Thursday 21 March 2013

The RSPCA is ‘very concerned’ about the number of unwanted, abandoned and neglected rabbits that officers and the local branch are being called to deal with in Rochdale.


In the past year the RSPCA cruelty line has been contacted about 69 healthy stray rabbits; 11 sick or injured stray rabbits; 41 rabbits abandoned in boxes or cages and an enormous 335 rabbits reported as neglect complaints*. Staff from RSPCA Rochdale & District Animal Centre have also been out and collected abandoned rabbits and had them dumped on their doorstep.


RSPCA inspector Nina Small said: “There is a real problem here in Rochdale. We know there are rabbits out there that are unwanted, neglected and suffering – we’re being called to pick up the pieces on a regular basis – and we’re very concerned.


“Rabbits are difficult animals to look after properly, they’re not the simple children’s pet many people believe them to be, and I’m afraid a great many of them are not getting anything like what they need to be happy and healthy.


“They can live anything between eight and 12 years, often in tiny hutches, living in their own filth, being fed inappropriately and suffering painful teeth problems as a result.”


For two days next week the RSPCA is offering owners in Rochdale free health checks for their rabbits, microchipping – essential in ensuring a lost rabbit can be reunited with its owner – and neutering – vital in allowing rabbits to live together without any unwanted litters. People who no longer want their rabbits are also invited to sign them over on either of those days.


The event is taking place at RSPCA Rochdale & District branch animal centre at 1 Redcross Street, Rochdale, OL12 0NZ on Tuesday 26 March and Wednesday 27 March, 10am – 3pm.


The health checks and microchipping will be conducted by staff from RSPCA Greater Manchester Animal Hospital. Neutering will take the form of vouchers paid for by the branch.


“Where we are taking in unwanted rabbits we are asking owners to bring their hutches as well or give us their address so we can collect them. We want to take away any temptation for them to go out and get another one,” said inspector Small.


She added: “We don’t normally offer to take in unwanted pets but feel the issue is so serious we must do something proactive to help rabbits that might otherwise ‘escape’, never to be claimed, be dumped or live their lives, neglected, in a hutch at the bottom of the garden.”


The offer only applies on the specified days and only applies in Rochdale.


Case studies


All of these rabbits are looking for new homes from RSPCA Rochdale & District Animal Centre.


Rabbits dumped on doorstep


Mum ‘Melanie’ and her two kits ‘Dusty’ and ‘Rupert’ were dumped on the doorstep of RSPCA Rochdale & District Animal Centre in a cardboard box on 29 January. All three are black and white cross breeds. Melanie is thought to be aged around two years old and Dusty and Rupert are around five months old. Rupert has just had an operation to remove his front teeth, which weren’t growing properly. Happily, Melanie has just been reserved. It is hoped Dusty and Rupert can be rehomed together.


‘Phonebox’ rabbits


Female Rex rabbits ‘Lois’ and ‘Elaine’ were left in a cat basket in a telephone box near RSPCA Rochdale & District Animal Centre on 10 February. It’s thought they are aged around two years old. They are very friendly and need to be rehomed together.


Poorly eye


Female grey and white rabbit ‘Flopsy’ (pictured) was picked up as a sick stray on 27 October. She had a blocked tear duct which has now been treated and she is looking for a new home. She would suit a neutered male as a companion.


Case rabbits


White female rabbit ‘Vin’ and dark brown male rabbit ‘Diesel’ both came into the RSPCA as a result of a cruelty case last summer. The one year olds were very underweight at the time but are now back to full health and looking for a new home together.


For more information about what rabbits need to be happy and healthy go to:


*Of the 335 rabbits reported as complaints of neglect, 188 were from six addresses.