July 19, 2007

Tell Petsmart Not To Sell Rabbits

Posted in animal advocacy, companion animals at 6:16 pm by nevavegan

To learn more about this issue look here:
http://www.rabbit.org/hrs-info/petsmart_release.html

I have just learned that Petsmart has announced an intention to sell dwarf rabbits in their stores. I’m sick. It’s bad enough that they sell small mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, and fish. They need to stop selling animals, not start selling more.

As someone closely acquainted with abandoned rabbits I know that domestic rabbits are abandoned and turned over to shelters all the time. So many are executed simply for not having a home. Others are not given up, but lead short miserable lives, because they are one of the most commonly neglected and abused companion animals.

Over the years I’ve had people call me because they saw a domestic rabbit (you can tell they aren’t wild if they are black and white or have long fur) running loose in their neighborhoods. My friends have found abandoned rabbits in parking lots, behind grocery stores, and in parks. When I volunteered at the shelter I comforted terrified rabbits only to see their time run out without finding a forever home. My own beloved Sherman, who recently passed away, was a starved bunny homeless in NYC, at the point of giving up, when luckily a homeless man found him and brought him to me.

I’ve seen bunnies living in cages too small even for a rat, despite the fact that many bunnies are as large as cats. My husband once saw a family who kept a bunny in a Tupperware crate, so all he ever saw were opaque plastic walls. Bunnies need to eat hay almost constantly, but I’ve seen so many people deny their bunnies hay because it was messy.

Most people I’ve met who ever had a bunny as a companion animal said their bunny died very young, often after a few months. This is almost always the result of untreated illness and/or improper diet. Bunnies can live as long as 15 years, though the range of 7 to 9 is more common. But bunnies who can’t eat the hay and fresh green vegetables they need will die within a year or so.

Petsmart is going to be selling bunnies as “starter pets,” but as someone who shares my home with rescued dogs, cats, and bunnies, I have to say the bunnies are in fact the most difficult to care for. Bunnies require a variety of foods, including hay and fresh veggies. They chew (one reason why they are so often caged for life) but they need lots of exercise like any animal. They require special vet care from someone experienced with rabbits and their vet care is often more expensive than vet care for a cat or dog. Bunnies need help with their grooming, like claw clipping, and long haired bunnies need almost daily brushing.

Bunnies need to be spayed or neutered like other companion animals. Unneutered male rabbits may “mark their territory” or become aggressive. Spaying improves the health of bunnies. When we adopted Juniper (Sherman’s long time companion who died about a year after he did) we learned that she had a tumor on her uterus when the rescue group got her spayed. She lived quite a few long healthy years after that, but had she not been spayed she would have died very soon.

Another reason to get your rabbit “fixed” is because they are social animals and need the company of other rabbits. It is hard sometimes to bond adult rabbits, but they really do need companionship. Once you see bunnies sleeping flopped into a heap, or grooming each other, you will understand the heartbreak of one lonely bunny living his whole life in a tiny cage.

The three bunnies that live with my husband and me right now were all rescued. Two of them, Josephine and Jasmine were seized from cruelty situations by animal control. So many beautiful bunnies are just waiting for homes in the shelters, there’s no excuse for Petsmart to start selling purposefully bred baby bunnies from bunny mills.

This was taken from the House Rabbit Society website:

Please let PetSmart know that you are unhappy with their decision to sell rabbits in their stores, rather than reach out to more rabbit rescue groups to expand their rabbit adoption programs. Please send PetSmart a polite letter or email, or give them a call to let them know of your concerns, via the contact information below:

Email: http://www.petsmart.com/global/customerservice/contactUsForm.jsp
or corpcommunications@ssg.petsmart.com
Phone: (800) 738-1385
Fax: (623) 580-6502
Snail mail:
PetSmart, Inc.
19601 North 27th Avenue
Phoenix, AZ 85027

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3 Comments »

  1. vko said,

    Oh, this makes me so ill. How horrible. I am definite going to write them to beg & plead…have to believe that somehow we can stop them.

  2. Rachael said,

    Oh, they just got about a 10 page email from me. I used to work for a Petsmart (I know, please don’t shoot me, it was a horrific experience and I hate them, but I didn’t “get it” at the time I took the job) so I was able to throw a whole lot of their own policies, training, and terms at them, not to mention the stories of my two bunnies, both of which are former petstore rabbits that were dumped when they got too inconveniant for their owners. My Phina was a “Easter bunny” that was dropped off at a shelter because “she was supposed to be a dwarf” (She’s 15 lbs, though a bit, um, “svelte” right now) and was almost put down as unadoptable because she nipped a shelter worker. Scooter was a “free to good home” (aka, destined to be snake food) bunny who’s owner got him while she was living in a dorm in college and then decided it was too much of a hassle to bother finding a pet-friendly apartment when she graduated….so she listed him on craigslist. I know the type of people who buy animals at Petsmart and, while not all of them are bad, so many of the people I dealt with seemed incapable of seeing the animals they were buying as anything more than a toy or a decoration and did all they culd to buy the bare minimum of supplies and exert the bare minimum of effort learning proper husbandry. And you can’t screw around like that with rabbits, there is too much room for error. Hopefully enough people will complain…thats why Petco stopped selling large birds. We need to get PETA on their ass and the bad PR will do wonders. Thank you for posting about this.

  3. Anonymous said,

    So, in short you’re saying that the bunnies Petsmart is selling come from bunny mills were they raise bunnies just for breeding? Did you ask them were they’re getting them from? No, I don’t agree with people raising any animals just to breed them. It’s good that you posted this so hopefully people that are looking into buying rabbits might go to their local shelter before going to a store. I will say that I don’t think a pet store selling animals is always a bad thing. I just bought a hermit crab for my 8 year old son from Superpetz. They had all the info about care and guidelines. My son loves Hermy!!There’s always going to be people who buy pets and don’t take care of them!!


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