We try our best not to call out individual organisations, but while one as big as Trademe continues to use their platform to perpetuate the myth of rabbits as “low maintenance… easy… first time pets”, organisations such as ours will be forced to fight an impossible battle, animals will continue to suffer, and their families will continue to be set up to fail. So there are times when we have to use our own platform to counter this grossly misinformative language, and with christmas coming up we know we have a responsibility to be loud, and clear; rabbits are not low maintenance starter pets.We would argue that there is never any circumstance where it is acceptable to make the decision of adding an animal to your family based on how little it will impact on your own lifestyle. On the 9th of September we sent an Open Letter to Trademe, to which we received a response two days later. We then followed up on the 20th of September, but as of today there has been no further contact from them. The banner is still live on their website, front and centre above the listings of too many rabbits and guineapigs to count, and alongside listings of inadequate, dangerous hutches and equipment. If you know of anyone who is intending to buy rabbits for their children this christmas, please spark up a friendly conversation and help us spread the truth of these brilliant, emotionally, socially and physically complex creatures… If we use our collective voices to advocate for those who cannot speak for themselves, we can dispel the many misconceptions surrounding their needs to create a kinder world for rabbits, and the humans who love them.
——– Open Letter below ——–
Sent 9th September 2020
To whom it may concern, we are writing to request that you update the banner description on your rabbit and guinea-pig marketplace page which describes rabbits and guinea pigs as “low maintenance pets” who are “easy to care for and perfect for first time pet owners.” We’ve noted that you’ve also repeated this messaging on your listings for rats, mice and fish – we do not think this accurately reflects the reality of pet ownership. One of the core reasons for rabbit abandonment is due to owners who buy rabbits with the misconception that they are easy and cheap pets.
Our mission as a charity and rescue for rabbits, is in part to change this misconception so that fewer animals are neglected, dumped or abandoned by owners who did not realise how expensive and demanding in particular rabbits can be. We request that you change the text on your page to better reflect the realities of rabbit ownership, and would be happy to collaborate with you on the copy. An additional request would be that you add to the description some basic information about rabbit care, in particular with regard to the size of the hutch or enclosure the animal is kept in.
Rabbits kept in small enclosures are at high-risk of a number of painful and life-threatening conditions, for this reason international standards suggest they be housed in an area no smaller than two by three metres. For further reading on this, please refer to the Rabbit Welfare and Association Fund of the UK. As a charity, our purpose is to work with all retail and business involved in the sale of live animals to bring about consistent messaging for New Zealanders to ensure that families are prepared for the realities of rabbit ownership.
Together we can reduce the number of domestic rabbits who are abused, neglected, and abandoned. Below is an example of text you could use to replace the current banner description:
“Rabbits and guinea pigs are wonderful additions to your family! Make sure you’re prepared with the correct housing, and enrichment by browsing our listings below! Rabbits and guinea pigs can live for 10+ years, and need lots of space to display their amazing personalities. We hope you enjoy the journey!”
Wellington Rabbit Rescue