Sorry to sound like a killjoy but forcing some pets to become pumpkins, pirates, or even hot dogs for amusement purposes means unnecessary stress, resulting in abnormal, unwanted, even damaging behaviours. Ill-fitting outfits can also get twisted on external objects or even your pet, leading to potential life-threatening injuries especially if left unsupervised.
Recent research from the 2015 Pets at Home Pet Report revealed that rabbits are the third most popular choice of pet for British children* and owning rabbits has proven benefits for them. In the study 72% of parents agreed that owning a pet has helped with their child's anxiety. In fact, rabbit owners in particular (60%) said that their child had become more responsible and 57% of parents also said they had seen an improvement in their children's learning difficulties since getting rabbits.
PDSA's latest Animal Wellbeing (PAW) Report has found that for some pets, their daily diet contains treats, scraps and leftovers, takeaway and, more worryingly, even some foods that are toxic to our pets like human chocolate and alcohol. Levels of pet obesity are rising and our overweight furry friends are just as likely to suffer from the same obesity related health problems as humans.
The aim is to give rabbits the same protection by law as dogs and cats currently have by ending the widespread sale of rabbits via pet shops and other outlets. The petition recommends this is done by introducing ordinances protecting rabbits similar to those operational in numerous states and cities in Northern USA and Canada.
I think we often underestimate the benefits that pets can bring to children. I often reflect about how my two boys benefitted immensely from our lovely cat Charlie - sadly no longer with us. He was an elderly stray cat we adopted and he showed them how you had to be tolerant and respect a pet's needs. In return Charlie offered devotion and a listening ear when life was 'unfair'.
It would certainly be illegal. In the UK it's against the law to keep British wild birds in a cage. But caging non-native species like budgerigars and other parrots? That's legal. Goldfinches - Siberian, Himalayan, Gouldian or zebra? That too is sanctioned by law. But the UK's European goldfinch? If you confined one of those you could be prosecuted.
You may be shocked to find out that not all vets are well trained in rabbits (many can have as little as a two week slot for exotics as a whole including reptiles, birds and small furries). This means that the majority of vets out there have very little knowledge of rabbits needs, behaviours, ailments and how to treat them correctly.
Rabbits are the third most popular pet in the UK, with an estimated 1.6 million kept in and outside of our homes. They are also the most neglected and mistreated animal companion in the nation. Out-dated preconceptions that rabbits are hutch loving, carrot crunching, cheap, small-child friendly pets is largely to blame.