It probably won't be news for you to hear that there's a huge crisis in rescue at the moment. The fall out from the pet boom during lock down has now reached its peak and every rescue in the UK is full to bursting.
It's an incredibly difficult, stressful and challenging time for all of us involved. In addition to the deluge of unwanted animals, there's been a drop in public donations as a result of the cost of living crisis and a drastic drop in adoptions right across the board.
Rabbit rescues have always struggled. Firstly there's very few rabbit placements compared to dogs and cats. Even prior to this crisis, rescues were full and struggling with funding. Now, we are all desperately trying to work miracles with very limited financial support, limited human resources, lack of adoptions and hundreds of rabbits in desperate need of rescue support on a daily basis.
The truth is, we simply can't help them all. It's impossible, no matter how hard we try. While we put in extra hours, for free, working between 10-14 hour days, give our hearts and souls, to do absolutely everything we can, often at the cost of our own physical, mental and emotional health, we are still told that we aren't doing enough. The blame is placed at the feet of the rescues, because we've said that we simply can't help. It's our fault the rabbit will be set free, our fault that they'll just have to leave it behind, our fault it'll die.
But it's not our fault! We desperately want to help that rabbit, and the next one, and the three after it and so on. But we simply can't. There's nowhere for the rabbit to stay, there's no money in the kitty for neutering and vaccinations, there aren't enough good homes available and there simply aren't enough hours in the day or people on the ground to provide day to day care for these rabbits.
While those working in rescue are seriously struggling under this huge burden, for pet shops and breeders it's business as usual. We've had numerous contact from desperate people who've bought two boys or two girls which have gone on to produce a litter. People who've been assured that two litter brothers will get in for life without a mention of the importance of neutering, now needing to rehome one. We can't cope, we can't do anything more, but it's still our fault.
Those who work in rescue, are doing so because they care deeply about the animals they are desperately trying to help. We know the suffering they face, we understand the miserable lives many are condemned to and we'd love to have a magic wand to change the way rabbits are viewed and kept as pets. We don't do this job for ourselves, we do it for them and to suggest that we don't care, that we are the problem or the reason why animals get dumped and only have ourselves to blame is ludicrous.
What more can we actually do? There's no more space, there's no more money and there's no more time available as we've already given everything to the animals we are currently caring for. All we can do, is our very best to provide for the animals in our care, while we watch the days, weeks, months, and even years tick by while they wait to find a suitable new home. Until then we remain full, and we are forced to continue to say 'No, sorry we can't help!' We are blamed for the situation, we are blamed for dumped animals and we are accused of being the root of the problem.
It's exhausting, it's unbelievably depressing and it's never-ending. We are all suffering from burnout and compassion fatigue. Regardless, we are up at the crack of dawn to give it everything we've got for yet another day and ready for the next person to blame us for the problem.
'It's your fault there's no space, your housing requirements are ridiculous!'
How is removing a rabbit from one shitty situation and popping it right back into another beneficial to anyone? Rabbits need space, end of, no further discussion is needed. If you don't want to listen to our advice, if you don't want to provide the very best for your pets, if you want to compromise their welfare, jog on my friend. We are all too exhausted, too stressed and genuinely at the end of our tether right now, and we've had enough abuse thrown our way already. If you don't want to provide suitable housing, are you willing to pay a vet fee?
I don't think it's any coincidence that 99.9% of the rabbits arriving in rescues have come from tiny hutches, unneutered, unvaccinated, and suffering from dental issues. We aren't going to rehome back to similar situations, as it shows a lack of understanding and commitment from the owners. If you genuinely love rabbits and care about their welfare, you'd look after them correctly and be prepared to meet their needs in their entirety. We can't understand why people get so angry and defensive, we haven't said no, we've said provide more space, feed a better diet and then you can adopt. But, it's our fault that we care about welfare.
'I'm so cross that the rescue won't take the rabbits I 'rescued' last week. I saved them from a horrible situation but what am I supposed to do now?'
Ok you saved these rabbits, you did so on your own conscience, but now you instantly want a rescue to solve the problem you created for yourself? We can't, we have no further resources available! Stop yelling at us. I understand that you care about animals and that you wanted to help, but you haven't helped. You've just moved these rabbits from one bad situation to another and now expect someone else to solve that problem. Don't keep shouting, can you donate the hundreds needed to neuter and vaccinate the rabbits you've so valiantly saved? Will you sort out their dental issues? Can you provide them with reasonable accommodation and day to day care until they find new homes? Nope, so why the hell did you take them in the first place? That's not our fault, if we'd had the ability to help them we would have, but we are literally drowning and no one is coming to rescue us!
Here's the hard truth, we never bred any of these rabbits, we never sold these rabbits to unprepared and uncommitted homes, we never gave bad advice, we never sold mixed sex, unneutered pairs, we didn't take in more rabbits than we could comfortably care for, we aren't in control of the pet trade and its horrific welfare standards, we aren't responsible for the horrific conditions people have chosen to keep their rabbits in, we aren't making any money from running rescues, we don't get financial aid from the government, we have all the same bills to pay as everyone else, we desperately need a rest, we desperately want to break down and cry, we desperately want to quit and we genuinely can't take much more. But you're still going to blame us for the problem?
Stop buying rabbits without considering their long term care, stop breeding more rabbits into an already over saturated market, stop buying rabbits from pet shops and breeders, do your research properly before getting rabbits, neuter and vaccinate your rabbits, give them sufficient space, feed them a correct diet, support your local rescue, recommend your local rescue and please, please stop laying the blame at our feet.