Community Meeting

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Rabbits in Richmond and Beyond

Wednesday, May 23 at 6:30 PM – 8:30 PM

Cambie Community Centre

2800 Cambie Road, Richmond, British Columbia V6V 0A9

Rabbitats will be hosting a free community meeting to address the hundreds (if not thousands) of abandoned pet rabbits and their feral offspring populating almost every neighbourhood in Richmond and moving into new areas every day. They are gaining strong footholds in Burnaby, Surrey, Delta, Langley, Mission, Chilliwack and other areas as well.

The meeting will address the reasons for the rabbit population, the laws and responsibilities and the difficulties people face when they have or find unwanted pet rabbits and suggest solutions.
We will also provide information on ‘habits of the rabbits’, tips on rabbit-proofing gardens and flower beds, and an update on the current status of the Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease Virus and how it affects the feral, pet and farm populations among other topics.

RSVP here –>

Las Vegas Ferals

By | Advocacy, Rescue | No Comments

Rabbitats has been trying to address the Vegas issue and help them out for awhile, but we didn’t have a lot of information and we’ve been time challenged with some of our own issues. Now I see there were some important things we could have advised on, so sorry we dropped that ball.
When the Rabbitats founder (Sorelle) worked on the UVic rescue (903 rescued and relocated) and the Richmond Auto Mall rescue (300+ rescued and relocated) we learned it was imperative to clear the areas in a grid so that ALL the rabbits in any given area were removed. Any rabbits wandering into that area were then easy to spot and catch before they started families. Picking up numbers of random rabbits did not work. I’m sure the rescuers are now realizing this, given how the poisoning issue spurred the successful removal of most of that dump site’s rabbits.
We also operated on the premise that it was the property’s responsibility to cover the costs they would have spent regardless to remove the rabbits. The same issue happened at UVic with the University trying to send a budget to a rescue who was unsuccessful at making a dent, and people only stepped forward to donate when there was a lethal cull.
We approached the landowners with proposals that quoted the costs of lethal removal by pest control companies and the costs of landscaping repairs. We asked for these budgets to be re-allocated to rescue and they complied. Fundraising made up the difference.
The other failings were based in the rescuers trying to rehome the rabbits as house bunnies. While we did rehome the recently dumped rabbits to pet homes, the rest were rounded up, sterilized and placed in secure, predator proof and escape proof colonies in rural locations. With this method we were able to house dozens to hundreds at once, the enclosures were cheap to build and our designs made for very low maintenance. The rabbits can be very cheap to feed considering they were well able to survive on the natural foods in their environment before. Grass, hay, tree branches, bushes, etc, provide very low cost feed.
It is very possible to control these rabbits when it’s done correctly. It’s just been a learning curve.
Once the existing colonies are rounded up and new arrivals controlled, the pet rabbit world needs to address how to close off the supply with the municipalities including rabbits in their animal control programs (the same as cats and dogs), strict rules and regulations about breeding, spays/neuters, pet shop sales, etcetera. This is really not the overwhelming problem it appears to be.…/feral-bunnies-are-taking-ove…

Vaccine update

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Thanks to a very generous donation that surprised us yesterday, we now have enough to pay for all our rabbits.  (And thanks SO much not only to our anonymous donor, but to all of you who helped!) If you’re part of our foster, volunteer or colony adoption program, we’re putting together the lists and locations. It’s going to be a huge coordination task, so please be patient! Our most at-risk rabbits will be done first, and that will be the colony rabbits in high traffic areas and those outdoors. House rabbits are not at much of a risk at this time especially those far away from Richmond. We will be helping out our active volunteers caring for our colonies sooner than later, but others will depend on logistics. We need to vaccinate in groups of 45 to 50. Another shipment will be in by the end of May, we will be ordering as much as will be affordable. If you haven’t already been in contact with Deanna, please send a note to or post a message on the Rabbitats page. People with small numbers of rabbits will need top opening carriers or other containers, we will not be taking the rabbits out of their carrying cases. If you don’t have one, please borrow one if you can. Also, please keep your eye on thrift stores, etcetera. We won’t want hay, food or bowls with the bunnies, just a towel in the bottom of the case will suffice. More info as we get this organized.…/first-batch-of-vaccine-for-deadly…

Our hearts go out to our comrades at RAPS

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Our hearts go out to our comrades at RAPS. And so does our gratitude for taking this horrendous but ultimately very necessary step. No one can and should underestimate this horrible virus. Rabbitats has been trying to take steps to help limit the exposure to all rabbits in Richmond and came to the realization that the RAPS shelter was one of the most problematic destinations. It’s a very old building, it’s very busy, they take in all kinds of animals and they had more rabbits than would fit in a secure room. And the ferals liked to visit. They really did do their best but quarantine was pretty much impossible. Taking this tragic but brave step really was the right thing to do. Any surviving rabbits would have been carriers. We sincerely hope Rabbitats is never put in this same situation. The message that needs to get out there now is, again, to STAY AWAY FROM THE FERAL RABBITS. And vaccinate, vaccinate, vaccinate. 

Sick baby

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With the RHD virus potentially in our area, there are few options for people who stumble upon sick rabbits. But turning down critically ill babies is beyond difficult, so we enlisted the help of a friend with biosecurity awareness, a huge heart and no rabbits of her own. Laura-Leah Shaw dropped everything she was doing to go pick up this little guy after Kevin from Kanata Blankets in Richmond called us about a street baby that wasn’t running away from him. It turns out he was suffering from injuries and a terrible case of flystrike. It’s apparent he was picked up by a bird and dropped on his face given the tell-tale talon marks — and the lack of front teeth. We have to give huge kudos to the Terra Nova Veterinary Clinic in west Richmond for seeing him so late and doing so much.  (They’re a great clinic, we’ve always liked them). So far the little guy is hanging in there. He’s hungry and trying to eat, but that’s not working well given the lack of teeth. Deanna Hamm is heading over to Laura-Leah’s with some Critical Care and Wombaroo rabbit milk. Wish him luck!!

RHD Update

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As I’m sure many are hearing, there have been suspicious deaths at RAPS in Richmond (inside and out) and Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease is suspected but not confirmed.
Rabbitats had already pulled most of the rabbits out of Richmond when we lost our office space and garage at the Richmond Auto Mall, we only had a few house bunnies and special needs guys in a trailer behind the old office, and they have been moved to our temporary Granville location and quarantined.
We also have colonies in Delta and our Surrey sanctuary rabbits, and no visitors have been allowed since the outbreak on Vancouver Island was confirmed over a month ago.
We’re anxiously awaiting the arrival of the vaccine for the several hundred rabbit under our wing, but if this is RHDV-2, the outlook is pretty grim for all the Richmond ferals. Its a horribly helpless feeling. The best line of attack is to continue fundraising to bring in as much of the vaccine as possible, and to warn people to STAY AWAY FROM THE FERAL RABBITS! We can’t stress this enough. The potential of spreading the virus, if it is indeed in Richmond, far outweighs any benefits.

Please keep your distance!

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Attention well meaning people wanting to check on and feed the feral rabbits in Richmond and elsewhere: PLEASE KEEP YOUR DISTANCE! The Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease virus was spread in Nanaimo by people approaching and feeding the feral rabbits and spreading it to other rabbits in the area. Being in the direct vicinity of loose rabbits is an EXTREMELY DANGEROUS PRACTICE AT THIS TIME! The virus is spread on shoes, tires, clothing, etc.. The rabbits are enjoying their spring grass, it’s rich in protein and it’s sweet, they honestly don’t need to be fed anything else and they’re not going to be overly interested in treats, anyway. Please stay away from them! Thank you!

Thank You

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We have managed to get enough support from donors and our vets to allow us to order 340 vaccine doses for our rabbits! They aren’t all paid for yet, but we are close enough that we can afford to get the order in. Thank you to our awesome supporters. We honestly can’t thank you enough. (Please forgive us if it takes a few days to thank you all individually).

ATTN: Rabbitats Fosters, Adopters and Volunteers

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ATTN: Rabbitats Fosters, Adopters and Volunteers:

As previously noted, Rabbitats is finalizing our order for the RHDV2 vaccine.
**** All of our outdoor fosters and adopters, our colony adopters and the volunteers around our rabbits who have rabbits of their own are welcome to join us at one of our vaccine sessions but please check in ASAP. We need your numbers and locations.****
– NOTE: Our vet, Dr. Martinez at Little Paws, is not recommending the vaccine to his house rabbit clients at this time because Dr. Martinez doesn’t feel the risk of infection outweighs the potential discomfort of the side effects (elevated body temperatures and long-lasting lumps at the injection site) when it comes to house rabbits. This is something all house rabbit people need to consider. THIS IS A DECISION BETWEEN YOU AND YOUR VET.
– This particular virus is also not acting exactly like the other strains of RHDV-2, eg: the mortality rate is higher, it duration may be shorter, etcetera, so the vaccine may also not work exactly as expected. (In Europe, some vaccinations have been less effective than others, etc).
– Rabbitats’ rabbits however are mostly ferals living in outdoor colonies, a high-risk group, so all our rabbits will be done courtesy of Dr. Martinez and Dr. Rana from Apex who have both kindly offered to work as a team to accomplish this. (We continue to have the most awesome vets on the planet).
– the 50 dose pack purchase is by far the most cost effective method but it means the vaccines are done on site (not at a clinic), and we need to do 50 injections within a two-hour time drug viability window.
– We will also have single doses which are a little more sterile and can be administered anytime, anywhere, but these are much more expensive, the costs haven’t been finalized but we’re likely paying between $25 and $30 each.
– While the above described Rabbitats associates are welcome to join us, it should be noted that we’re doing a ‘cattle call’ here, the vets won’t be thoroughly examining the rabbits, it will be up to the guardian to determine they’re healthy. (The vaccine should only be given to healthy rabbits).
– Also because this is the off-label use of a drug not approved for use in Canada, a waiver needs to be signed by every guardian.
– While I’m pretty confident in our plans to vaccinate all our own rabbits in this manner, some of volunteers and adopters may want to book an appointment at the vet clinic instead. (Little Paws is bringing in a small amount of the drug for clients requesting it).
– Please respond privately, thanks! Deanna Hamm is gathering names.