China is the largest exporter of rabbit products, meat, and fur. Rabbit meat is becoming more and more popular in grocery stores and restaurants alike. Restaurants are presenting more rabbit on their menus because of the demand from Europeans and “foodies”. Rabbits in the USA are labeled by the government as “poultry”, thus there are no rules or regulations for them. Consequently, they are not inspected by the USDA. The FDA is supposed to inspect, but unless companies pay for an inspection then there is no inspection. Europeans and other countries are accustomed to regularly having rabbits as a meal. They are requesting rabbit meat to be sold in this country and stores are granting their wishes. It’s our precious New Zealand’s and Californians that are the main meat, fur, and laboratory animals.
Rabbit food for pets is becoming more and more popular. China is the main culprit, producing rabbit products very cheaply with very low standards. You can purchase it in some grocery stores for $2.99 to $4.99 a pound. However, this mass-produced rabbit food is usually of low quality and doesn’t supply the rabbit with the full range of nutrients that it needs for a healthy diet.
WHAT YOU CAN DO PERSONALLY: R.A.B.B.I.T.
Re-educate! Many of us have all heard the “rabbit stew” joke. It’s not funny but it is an opportunity for you to educate people. You can write a personal letter with a picture of your rabbit and keep it on you. When someone says this, give them the letter. This will alleviate arguing with them and educate at the same time. On rabbitadvocacynetwork.org search “letters to restaurants” it’s a great template letter and you can edit it for yourself.
Advertise your buns! Advertise that you have family pet rabbits. The best thing is for people to “see” rabbits as family pets. This country is very visual. Put a bunny condo in the window or pet stairs up to a cat perch so “they are able” to look out of the window.
Purchase a t-shirt, have pictures on your phone, place a rabbit decal on your car, or emergency stickers on your doors. Perhaps, enlarge a photo of your buns (8×10) and put it in the corner of the front window in your home for visitors, mailmen, UPS and Halloween trick or treaters to see. Create your own bunny mobile home out of a garden cart, storage cubes and zip ties and take them for a stroll in the neighborhood! Garden carts have soft wheels. You can put a litter and a hidey box inside and you are good to go!
October is the official “Show your Buns!” campaign month
Bring on the rabbits! Seniors absolutely love to pet rabbits. BunniesinBaskets.org is an organization to learn the ins and outs of visiting rabbits and PetPartners.org certifies animals as pet therapy companions. Neither place wishes to put your animal in a stressful situation. If your bunny doesn’t enjoy it they shouldn’t become a pet therapy/visiting bunny. Contact each website to find a representative in your area
Be activists! Sign every petition having to do with anything other than having rabbits as family companion animals. Do not shop at grocery stores, restaurants, or pet stores that carry rabbit meat. Look for cosmetics and laundry safe products that do not test on animals. Leapingbunny.com has an app that you can add to your phone to find out wherever you are if a product is animal tested. Laundry/cleaning safe products are 7th Generation and Method. There are many others as well
Protest! Posters are easily created with posters from The Dollar Store. Photocopy your rabbits on 11×17 paper and use templates for the wording. Spray glue them on or staple. Use tomato stakes from Home Depot (make sure you sand them for slivers). The Rabbits Advocacy Network (closed group, please ask to join) has many templates in their system or you can create your own. Create a handout. Easily done by inserting a New Zealand with wording. Cut it in 4 pieces and hand it out to customers with the story and what they can do to help. It is very important to have “their customers complain.” Stores listen to their customers. In our society, money speaks, and much change can be garnered when we, as consumers, speak with our dollars! Make sure someone is in contact with Corporate. Call and ask who you can talk to or email. It’s easier than you think! If possible go and do a presentation to whoever is in charge at Corporate. All the above regarding grocery stores work! This is what worked for the Whole Foods campaign. Also, get involved with supporting/protesting stores that sell animals from breeders. If we can get a ban on dogs, cats and rabbits out of pet stores where they can only sell rescues this will help immensely
Insist on change! Complain to a store “manager.” Let them know that your rabbit is a “customer” of their store too! They themselves are consumers of fresh produce daily. You need to go into grocery stores at least 1–2 times a week. Your bunny eats between 1–X cups of salad “per day.” Ask them, “Isn’t your fresh department one of the most important departments in your store? Aren’t people who shop fresh more important because they will “regularly” visit your store?” Other pets usually eat canned or bagged, rabbits need fresh and pet food is known as a daily “treat.” If you tell them, “Your store has wonderful produce. I was shopping at your store regularly but if you have rabbits’ dead bodies in the frozen section I refuse to shop here,” then they are sure to listen! Would dog people shop at a store that has their dead bodies in a store? Print pictures of their daily salads and pictures of your rabbit(s) and give it to them. If you would like to write a letter with your contact information please do and give it all to the manager. A lot of pet stores are not only carrying rabbit food as dry but also as frozen because they say that rabbits are a non-allergen according to their vet. These bunnies are usually produced in China. Complain to the manager, call Corporate (the store will provide you with this), tell them you will no longer shop there. If you go to a veterinarian that is not exotic what happens is they will do a “testing” on some animals for allergies. This testing place will come up with the “non-allergens.” Rabbit is “automatically” on the list. Tell them you will take your business elsewhere if they don’t stop recommending that your family pet is ok to eat vs. another family pet eating them. There are usually other options. Rabbit doesn’t have to be on the list. Let the veterinarian know that you wish for them to complain to the testing place or use another testing place. (January is going to be a national campaign against rabbit pet food
Take it to the internet! Every grocery store has a “contact form.” This always goes to their Corporate Headquarters. If Corporate feels it is important enough they will notify the store. Social media: go to their Facebook Page or Twitter page and file a complaint. Rate their review as a 1. Go to Foursquare.com and find the restaurants that sell rabbit on their menu in your area. Call, email and rate their restaurant as a 1. Rabbitadocacynetwork.org has a sample letter to restaurants. It’s wonderful! Just do a search on it.
R.A.B.B.I.T: Re-educate, Advertise your buns, Bring on the rabbits, Be activists, Insist on change, Take it to the internet
Rabbit Action Alerts! Form Facebook, text, email teams to assist with rabbits that have been dumped outside. Get to know specific people who are in which area and tag them.
Rabbit Advocacy Network Regions! Create groups with animal activists’ groups whether it’s meat, fur, or testing. The people that show up for Rabbit Action Alerts are good candidates for Rabbit Advocacy Teams. They get involved in the action! These are the people that you want on your team for “protests.” Yes, protests work, especially with grocery stores. Get a business card that has your information and Rabbit websites as references. It’s easy to hand out to get others involved!
Online Events! Create an event with “all” the contact information of the store. Do it for 1 – 2 weeks. Have emails, online contact information and phone numbers for each store on the event. Also tell people to “physically” go into these stores during this time and complain.
Start a Petition: On change.org you can start your own petition against a company. Make sure that his is shared with a person from the management team. They need to be aware there is a petition against them.
WHAT RESCUERS CAN DO
Like pages on your Facebook page or recommend pages on your website! Like Rabbit Advocacy Network, Rabbits Matter, Leaping Bunny, Bunnies in Baskets, and In Defense of Animals this way when people see who you’ve liked and it makes it easier for them to “go to” these places to get involved!
Post Rabbit Action Alerts! Form teams to rescue dumped rabbits. This gets people involved!
All in all, we have come a long way. The team has only one way to go… and that is forward! Our goal is to get rabbits on the “pet list” and off the poultry list! If you see abuse, dial 311 and file a complaint. They will contact your local animal control and they will investigate.
by Patricia Cora