House Rabbit Society’s Position on Backyard Slaughter

Recently, with the upsurge in the “urban farming” movement, more cities in the United States have been passing laws to regulate the raising, keeping, and slaughtering of animals like chickens, goats, and rabbits within city limits.

House Rabbit Society promotes the keeping of rabbits as household pets, not livestock. Given our position, we take a very strong stance against raising rabbits for food, and thus are opposed to any measures that would allow rabbits to not only be raised in backyard farms, but slaughtered there.  Mara Hurwitt, Esq., House Rabbit Society’s legal advisor, has crafted the following statement on our position:

Why a Backyard Slaughter Ban is Necessary

Prohibiting backyard slaughter of rabbits and other animals in cities around the country will help prevent animal cruelty and minimize the risk of serious neighborhood nuisances, in addition to promoting public health and proper sanitation.

The growing popularity of “urban farming” has led to a rise in the number of households raising chickens and rabbits for food in residential areas around the country. These “hobby” farmers often do not know how to slaughter an animal humanely or safely.

Rabbits scream when in great pain or terror. Most people don’t know that rabbits can vocalize, but in extremis they emit a blood-curdling scream (that sounds very much like an infant in extreme pain). Permitting the backyard slaughter of rabbits in residential communities runs the very real risk of severely traumatizing the neighbors, especially young children.

The nuisance created by backyard slaughter has already prompted lawsuits (and national media attention) in many parts of the country, and a growing number of jurisdictions are enacting backyard slaughter bans.

A backyard slaughter ban does not prevent people from raising meat rabbits. It only requires them to take their animals elsewhere – outside of a residential neighborhood – to kill them, or to have them killed and butchered by someone who professionally slaughters animals in a more humane and sanitary way. If backyard slaughter is permitted, there is no way to police the methods amateurs use to slaughter animals on their own property.