Unhappy Easter for Three Pet Rabbits Abandoned in West Yorkshire Woods

Three pet rabbits are receiving some much-needed care and attention after they were abandoned in a filthy cage on Easter Monday.

The female bunnies were found at around 8pm by a dog who was being walked in woods off Manchester Road between Marsden and Slaithwaite in West Yorkshire.

The member of the public kindly took the animals home and gave them fresh bedding before they were collected the following morning by RSPCA animal rescue officer Emmeline Myall and taken for veterinary treatment. 

Two of the rabbits were underweight and had visible fur loss and urine soaked paws. 

The incident comes as the RSPCA and other welfare organisations grapple with a ‘rabbit crisis’ with animal centres struggling to cope with a huge influx caused by abandonments triggered by the cost-of-living crisis and out-of-control breeding.

With no space in the local area for rabbits at any RSPCA facilities, the trio are now being privately boarded by the charity until room becomes available and they can be rehomed. Anyone with information about the incident is being urged to come forward.

Emmeline said: “Two of the rabbits were in a poor state of health and had lost chunks of fur. Their paws were stained yellow with urine which could have been caused by them spending long periods of time in the filthy cage they were found in, which was far too small to meet their needs.  

“They’re now receiving ongoing treatment for their skin, as well as lots of TLC, and we’re hopeful they’ll go on to make a good recovery.

“This incident demonstrates the complexities involved in caring for rabbits and we’d urge people who are thinking about getting them as pets to consider the time and cost implications. They are one of the most neglected pets in Britain and we need to end the misconception that they are ideal ‘starter’ pets and are somehow easier than cats and dogs.

With no space in the local area for rabbits at any RSPCA facilities, the trio are now being privately boarded by the charity until room becomes available and they can be rehomed. Anyone with information about the incident is being urged to come forward.

Emmeline said: “Two of the rabbits were in a poor state of health and had lost chunks of fur. Their paws were stained yellow with urine which could have been caused by them spending long periods of time in the filthy cage they were found in, which was far too small to meet their needs.  

“They’re now receiving ongoing treatment for their skin, as well as lots of TLC, and we’re hopeful they’ll go on to make a good recovery.

“This incident demonstrates the complexities involved in caring for rabbits and we’d urge people who are thinking about getting them as pets to consider the time and cost implications. They are one of the most neglected pets in Britain and we need to end the misconception that they are ideal ‘starter’ pets and are somehow easier than cats and dogs.

“They need so much more than just a hutch at the end of the garden and are very complex animals with needs for company, stimulation and exercise. They also have long life spans of around 8 to 12 years so they are a big commitment for any family.” 

Last year the RSPCA saw a huge 48 percent increase in the numbers of rabbits arriving at its animal centres compared to 2021. But while the intake of rabbits has surged, rehoming rates have fallen by 42 per cent compared to before the Coronavirus pandemic.

The charity urges anyone considering taking on rabbits – ideally a neutered male and neutered female pair – to research their needs thoroughly and adopt from an animal or rescue centre like those run by the RSPCA and other reputable organisations and not shop for them.

It is also supporting calls by the Rabbit Welfare Association and Fund for a rabbit breeding amnesty to help reduce the rabbit population and safeguard rabbit welfare. 

As the cost of living crisis continues, RSPCA officers are dealing with increasing numbers of abandoned animals. In March alone, the charity received 1,517 reports about abandonments – up from 1,429 for the same month last year, a rise of six percent. 

Anyone with information about the rabbits is urged to contact the RSPCA’s inspectorate appeal line, in confidence, on 0300 123 8018.   

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