ABANDONED BUNNIES: Covid sees increase in rabbit rescue
A rabbit rescue centre in Solihull has revealed that Covid-19 has added to cases of abandoned bunnies, with increased reports of pets being left in boxes or let loose in public parks.
Fat Fluffs, based in Hampton-in-Arden, has been “completely full” for the past year and said the pandemic meant many more rabbits were in need of a new home.
During the first lockdown, the charity reported a “massive increase” in the number of unwanted animals being found by members of the public.
Cases included a rabbit being left in a cardboard box by the side of a Wolverhampton street and a passer-by seeing pets actually being released into parkland.
In one instance it’s suspected that a breeder, unable to sell the animals on, had turned around a dozen of the animals loose.
Sophie Walker, Fat Fluffs’ manager, said: “In the first lockdown last year we had a sudden influx of abandoned bunnies perhaps because people were worried about their jobs going forward and didn’t think they could afford bunnies.
“Or they had had to get a new job and didn’t have the time.”
Conversely there have been issues more recently with people who may have bought a pet actually during a lockdown but are now looking to give them up because children have returned to school or they’re being taken off furlough.
This mirrors a trend, highlighted by the RSPCA last summer, of people getting an animal companion while cooped up indoors and then struggling to look after it.
Fat Fluffs, which was set up in 2008, has taken on bunnies from around the region but like many voluntary groups has also spent a year grappling with Covid restrictions.
Its usual fund raising activities have had to move online after the summer fetes and similar events it would usually attend had been called off.
The charity is now preparing for what is always a busy Easter period – even in normal years – and Ms Walker urged people to do their research and avoid buying a pet on an impulse.
“Some people don’t realise how long rabbits live – it can be 10 to 12 years – or how expensive rabbits can be.
“They are seen as disposable pets, often because they are cheap in pet shops and because they are cute and fluffy they think they are easy to look after … but they are not great as children’s pets, they don’t really like being picked up and cuddled.”
Aside from doing their homework online, people are also encouraged to spend a bit of time volunteering at the likes of sanctuaries to get a better idea of what’s involved in their care.
What to do if you find an abandoned rabbit:
It is always worth taking an animal to the vet initially to see if it is micro-chipped. It might be a pet that has escaped its hutch or run.
If this leads to nothing then you can find details for various rabbit rescue and rehoming organisations online.
Ms Walker said there were a surprising number of charities on hand to help, although many don’t offer a “pick-up” service and will ask you to take the animal in.
Despite its current squeeze on space, Fat Fluffs will still find room for animals in “emergency cases”.
For more information about the Solihull charity visit www.fatfluffs.com
Words: David Irwin, Local Democracy Reporter
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