Rabbits make fantastic, loving pets – which is part of the reason why it’s so heartbreaking to see them treated cruelly on farms (just to clarify though, I definitely don’t believe only “cute and fluffy” animals deserve to be protected). But the UK is overrun with abandoned rabbits, so it doesn’t make sense to buy from a shop. Instead, look for local shelters and save a bunny from almost certainly being put down.
One of the reasons people are put off buying a rescue rabbit is that they think they’ll have less choice. This might be true with dogs, where many rescue dogs are pitbull-type breeds, but fortunately isn’t the case with rabbits. Shelters have a range of breeds, ages and sizes, so you’ll almost always be able a pet that suits your requirements.
Another great thing about a rescue shelter is that many have previous experience living in a home environment. While you should always expect a settling in period, adopting a pet that’s already used to interacting with humans can make things a lot easier. You shouldn’t assume that shelter rabbits have personality problems either – it’s very common for people to give away a rabbit simply because they don’t want it anymore.
Additionally, most shelters will provide aftercare and advice. It’s great to be able to talk to a knowledgeable person about your new rabbit, which many pet shops don’t provide. You may also be able to find rabbits in pairs that have already become closely bonded, which can make the first few weeks easier.
What’s Wrong with Breeders and Pet Shops?
There’s nothing inherently wrong with breeders, but there are a lot of unethical ones out there. These breeders keep rabbits in poor-quality conditions and won’t hesitate to get a rabbit continously pregnant just to make more money.
It’s true that there are some excellent breeders out there. The problem is that the UK already has far too many rabbits as it is – and they are only adding to the population.
Pet shops rarely breed rabbits themselves, but instead buy from breeders. So buying from shops is just perpetuating the same problems. Shops also tend to sell very poor quality equipment, with hutches that are too small for a rabbit to live in comfortably. For this reason, make sure you talk to an expert at a shelter before you invest in a hutch.
Save a Life
But in my opinion the best reason for adopting a rabbit is that you’re almost certainly saving its life. It is estimated by SaveaFluff.co.uk that there are over 30,000 rabbits currently in shelter. The majority of rabbits will never be re-homed, at least as long as breeders (both ethical and not) keep churning out new rabbit babies, which means most will need to be put down. With so many wonderful rabbits available that need a home, there really is no reason to buy from a pet shop.
If you want more information about why so many rabbits end up in shelters, check out the video below. It’s from the US, but much of the information still applies: