RWAF and RSPCA Share Action Plan to Improve Rabbit Welfare with 2024 Strategy

Katie Court
Authored by Katie Court
Posted: Monday, June 3, 2024 - 12:00

Leading UK animal welfare charities, RWAF (Rabbit Welfare Association & Fund) and the RSPCA have led on a new Rabbit Welfare Strategy to highlight the needs of pet rabbits, who are currently the nation's most misunderstood pets. The strategy aims to identify common health and welfare problems, as well as offering advice and possible resolutions to navigate the issues raised. The document has a ten-point action plan to improve the welfare of one of the nation's most popular pets. 

The strategy has the support of many other organisations and is now calling for  them to work together on the priorities identified in the action plan, to achieve the vision for rabbit welfare that not only meets all of their welfare needs,the many problems that many face, for example looking at how to balance demand with supply, resulting in a lesser strain on rescue facilities, which is a result of there being more rabbits bred each year than there are good homes for. 

The call for this new strategy is due to the majority of rabbits being kept as family pets, with many still housed singly, and many kept in unsuitable housing or with unsuitable diets. In 2020, rabbits were the third most popular animal companion in the UK, but according to PDSA research undertaken in 2011 rabbit are described as the most neglected species (in comparison to dogs and cats), suffering from a wide range of potential welfare problems. 

Andrea Short, Senior scientific and policy officer at the RSPCA has said:

'Rabbits are popular family pets - with around 1 million being kept in the UK - most of whom are kept singly in hutches outside, which presents a range of potential welfare problems. We hope that this rabbit strategy will improve the welfare of rabbits so that they can all live happy, healthy lives.'

The strategy identifies the main priorities and actions needed to improve rabbit welfare overall, and much of this work will involve more research and then communication of the results to rabbit owners and breeders. 

Richard Saunders BSc (Hons) BVSc MSB CBiol DZooMed (Mammalian) MRCVS, job title, 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." 

You can find the full strategy here:  

For more information on animal welfare please visit RWAF and RSPCA websites.

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