In order to clarify and quantify the problem of impulse buying, and to highlight the many cases of purchase without due longterm consideration, Make Mine Chocolate! UK carried out a detailed survey which was completed in July 2010.
Over 4235 rabbits were surveyed, with their background and other details passed to us by 59 rescues around the UK.
Results and Summary
A full summary of the survey can be downloaded from here.
Key Findings and Comment
The key findings of the survey provide the following.
Length of Ownership
36% of rabbits entering rescue are surrendered within the first six months of ownership. The owner is ill-prepared for their new pet or have an ‘easy come, easy go’ attitude towards rabbits.
59% of rabbits entering rescue are surrendered within the first year of ownership.
Only 23% of rabbits entering rescue do so after two or more years of ownership. Presumably this is as a result of rabbit/owner bond and the owner is generally more equipped to offer the correct level of care
Source of Acquisition
52% of rabbits are originally obtained from pet shops/superstores or garden centres. The ease of purchase makes the pet superstore the favoured purchase option.
A worryingly large (and increasing) number of rabbits enter rescue as a stray/dumped. Rescues already being full are the most logical reason for this increase and shows what a dire situation rabbit welfare currently is
Reason for Acquisition
Nearly a quarter of all rabbits entering rescue were originally bought for children.
The message that rabbits should at least live in bonded neutered pairs is not reaching all potential new owners – 20% of rabbits entering rescue were originally bought as a single rabbit.
Time of Acquisition
It is of no surprise that rabbits are bought in the first part of the year – but 55% of rabbits entering rescue having originally been purchased in Spring, the effect of the cute fluffy bunny sitting the shop, and the ease of purchase/obtaining is highly likely to be a major contributory factor.
Only 18% of rabbits entering rescue have been purchased in Autumn and Winter – when the appeal of spending time and cleaning out is significantly less attractive and there is no ‘cute’ appeal
Reason for Relinquishment
A shocking 34% of rabbits entering rescue do so because their carer, a child, has lost interest and doesn’t want them any more.
Other reasons for relinquishment include allergy, moving house, having a baby, family breakup, aggressive rabbit, new other pet, illness, too busy, financial, rabbit illness, unwanted litter, mis sexing by provider.
Further Anecdotal Evidence
Anecdotal evidence of relinquishment as quick as a few days after Easter purchase and a rabbit having already had two new homes before entering rescue on New Years Eve; the rabbit was purchased on Christmas Eve, only seven days before!
This Make Mine Chocolate! UK survey data has been circulated to interested parties, and data has been included in the RSPCA’s report The welfare state: five years measuring animal welfare in the UK 2005–2009. A copy of which can be downloaded from here.
The current estimate by the RWA/F is that there are around 67,000 rabbits passing through rescue annually. Many rescues report their waiting list is double their actual capacity, and there is no reduction in sight.
Winter late summer and through the winter sees an increase in the numbers being relinquished and dumped with neglect cases throughout the year and increasing annually.
Make Mine Chocolate! UK are working to stop the impulse buying issue and to help address the educational needs of owners by working with pet shops who are perfectly placed to really help to make a difference to rabbit welfare.