Animal rights group links up with pet shops to promote happy bunnies

Photo: Dierenbescherming

Rabbits might be one of the most popular Dutch pets but they are not happy bunnies if left alone in a cage, animal protection organisation Dierenbescherming and pet sector organisation Dibevo said on Wednesday.

Rabbits are currently the fourth most popular pet in the Netherlands – there are some 1.2 million of them living in Dutch households – but owners are often unaware of their needs, the organisations say. For example, according to recent research, some 63% of rabbits are living alone and are at risk of pining away.

The two organisations on Wednesday launched the Happy Rabbit project which encourages staff at pet shops and garden centres to tell potential rabbit owners how to take better care of their animal. Better information could also prevent people buying a rabbit on impulse, they say.

One way of keeping rabbits happy is to provide them with a mate, for instance from an animal rescue centre. And while rabbits also need large hutches, a castrated partner is recommended to avoid overcrowding.

Dierenbescherming calls its cooperation with the pet shop industry ‘quite unique’. But in the end the health and well-being of animals is an interest both partners have in common, the organisation said.