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Last Updated: Monday, 8 August 2005, 08:37 GMT 09:37 UK
Campaign for 'forgotten' rabbits
Rabbit (generic)
The RSPCA says hundreds are 'simply discarded' each year
A campaign to highlight the number of pet rabbits being neglected in Wales has been launched by the RSPCA.

The charity said the animal is the third most popular pet in the UK after dogs and cats but that they were the most neglected.

RSPCA inspectors responded to 574 cruelty complaints about rabbits in Wales and the west of England in 2004 but believe more may be suffering.

Three people are due in court in August to face charges of neglecting rabbits.

The RSPCA said many animals starved to death alone, forgotten about in hutches at the bottom of gardens.

Rabbits need as much exercise as a small dog
They should not kept alone but should be neutered to prevent breeding
Rabbits can forget their companions after a few hours so should not be separated
Their teeth never stop growing so they need grinding down on food
A rabbit's diet should contain 80-90% hay

In February 2005, an RSPCA inspector rescued 21 rabbits which had been dumped in a field in Bangor in a cardboard box.

It was thought the owners had dumped the lop-eared bunnies because two had bred to create the 21 and they could not cope.

In 2002, a couple from Cardiff were convicted of causing unnecessary suffering to their rabbit because they did not know it could not eat the straw they were trying to feed it.

A vet involved in the case said the rabbit, which had starved to death, had probably suffered for at least eight days beforehand.

The owners were fined 200 and banned from keeping animals for five years.

The charity hopes its campaign with highlight what people need to do to improve the lives of hundreds of rabbits.

RSPCA regional superintendent Martyn Hubbard said: "Whilst there are many caring and responsible rabbit owners, many take on a rabbit on a whim and are ignorant of the animal's needs and requirements.

"The RSPCA collects hundreds of rabbits every year that have simply been discarded.

"The point of this campaign is to make people aware of the time, commitment, money and specific care that rabbits require and deserve."

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