Sunderland animal charity receive 'out of control' influx of lockdown rabbits
An animal charity in Sunderland has received a ‘huge influx’ of pet owners trying to re-home their rabbits they bought during lockdown.
Laura McShane, a volunteer at Pawz for Thought in Roker is urging people to do their research before buying small animals after the charity received a huge influx of lockdown rabbits needing new homes.
The small animal coordinator says the charity now has a ‘very long’ waiting list of rabbits who need new homes after being bought in lockdown.
Laura says the number of requests from rabbit owners asking for their pet to be re-homed is ‘relentless’ and she expects it ‘to only get worse’.
She said: “We’ve always had a waiting list of rabbits needing a new home but the increase of emails and messages has gone through the roof, it’s hard to keep on top of because there’s a constant need for more rabbit space.
"People have bought a rabbit during the lockdown, they haven’t done the research and now the cute and cuddly bit has worn off – I don’t think people think about the cost, or the effort and space needed to properly look after a rabbit and that’s why we’re seeing a huge increase.”
The 31-year-old said often people who don’t do research don’t know that rabbits should be kept in pairs and can live for up 10 to 12 years.
The cost of neutering and vaccines also need covering during the rabbit’s lifetime and this can cost £150 or more.
Laura says rabbits are a ‘huge commitment’ and 95 percent of the rabbits that come into the charity need neutering, vaccines and to also be micro-chipped.
Many of the rabbits are kept at foster homes across the North East before being adopted by new owners.
The full-time teacher said: “It’s a constant juggle between working and trying to find homes for these rabbits, but our foster families who look after these pets are amazing and I couldn’t do it without them.”
Laura is now urging people to think of the long-term circumstances and know what to expect before buying a small animal such as a rabbit.
She said: “I want to raise awareness so there isn’t this pressure on charities, they have natural needs for welfare and space and owners need to ensure they fulfil these.”