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Charities announce strategy for rabbit welfare
RWAF have called rabbits 'the nation's most misunderstood pet'.
The ten-point action plan identifies common health and welfare problems.

Animal welfare charities have called on organisations to ‘work together’, as they release their strategy for improving rabbit welfare.

The Rabbit Welfare Strategy has been developed by the Rabbit Welfare Association and Fund (RWAF) and the RSPCA to address common health and welfare problems.

The strategy provides a ten-point action plan, designed to support organisations with improving the wellbeing of rabbits and considering their five welfare needs. It also hopes to balance demand and supply, and reduce the strain on rescue facilities.

The plan calls for further study into rabbit needs, and a communication of evidence-based findings and consensus expert opinion to rabbit owners and breeders.

The charities also want to encourage retailers to offer welfare-compatible products and advice. They say retailers should be trained to provide optimal advice on meeting rabbit welfare needs.

Organisations are asked to work together to overcome emerging welfare problems, and to encourage the development of appropriate secondary legislation, such as Codes of Practice.

RWAF have called rabbits ‘the nation’s most understood pets’. It says that many pet rabbits are still being housed singly, with unsuitable housing or diets.

In 2020, rabbits were the third most popular pet in the UK.

However, research conducted by the PDSA in 2011 described rabbits as the most neglected species compared to dogs and cats.

Richard Saunders, a vet specialist advisor at RWAF, said: “Rabbits are the third most commonly kept mammalian pet, and yet one of the most neglected companion animals in the UK. We hope that this rabbit strategy gives a clear roadmap for how their care and welfare can be improved over the short- and long-term future.

“We are extremely grateful to all the organisations and other stakeholders who have been involved in this document, and who have committed to taking positive action for rabbits.”

The ten-point strategy plan can be found here.

Image © Shutterstock

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Charities' XL bully neutering scheme closes

News Story 1
 A scheme that helped owners of XL bully dogs with the cost of neutering has closed to new applications due to high demand.

The scheme, run by the RSPCA, Blue Cross, and Battersea, has helped 1,800 dogs and their owners after XL bullies were banned under the Dangerous Dogs Act.

In England and Wales, owners of XL bully dogs which were over one year old on 31 January 2021 have until 30 June 2024 to get their dog neutered. If a dog was between seven months and 12 months old, it must be neutered by 31 December 2024. If it was under seven months old, owners have until 30 June 2025.

More information can be found on the Defra website. 

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News Shorts
Avian flu cattle outbreak spreads to tenth US state

Cattle in two dairy herds in Iowa have tested positive for highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI), making it the tenth state in the USA to be affected by the ongoing outbreak of the disease in cattle.

Since March 2024, more than 80 herds across the USA have been affected by the virus and three dairy workers have tested positive. Authorities have introduced measures to limit the spread of the virus and farmers have been urged to strengthen their biosecurity protocols.

Mike Naig, Iowa secretary of agriculture, said: "Given the spread of highly pathogenic avian influenza within dairy cattle in many other states, it is not a surprise that we would have a case given the size of our dairy industry in Iowa.

"While lactating dairy cattle appear to recover with supportive care, we know this destructive virus continues to be deadly for poultry."