House Rabbit Society opposes auctioning off, selling, or donating rabbits for use in charity fundraisers, lotteries, promotional distributions, or other events. Giving any live animal as prize is a bad idea – especially rabbits. Contrary to popular thinking, rabbits are not “low-maintenance” or “starter pets.” In addition, rabbits and small children are not a good match. The natural exuberance and rambunctiousness of even the gentlest toddler are stressful for the sensitive rabbit. They have a lifespan of 10 years and require as much work as a dog or cat.
As the Humane Society of the United States notes, any companion animal has a better chance of success in one’s home when they are considered carefully, and embarked upon with an understanding of the commitment (emotional, physical, and financial) and responsibility required. These are things not necessarily considered by someone at a fundraiser reacting to an impulse to win or desire to outdo a fellow bidder. Auctions, raffles, and similar events using live animals encourage impulse acquisition of a pet. There is no way for the potential pet owner to interact in any meaningful way with the pet prior to taking him home, and there is no way to screen those potential pet owners to ensure that the pet has a suitable home to go to.
House Rabbit Society believes any fundraising event should not include items considered harmful to animals. Every year, millions of wonderful, healthy animals in shelters, including tens of thousands of rabbits, wait for people to give them a home. Auctioning off a rabbit to the highest bidder with no concern for his or her future or for the undue hardship placed on a family who may bring the wrong type of pet home on a whim is not only irresponsible, but also unethical. This is a poor example for a charity to set, and we hope that any charities considering hosting an event using rabbits as prizes will take this to heart, and choose a more humane method of fundraising.