Imagine a world in which every rabbit has a home. Imagine a world with no need for shelters and rescues…a world where financial reserves can be spent on charitable causes outside of small animal rescue programs. Imagine never coming across an unwanted bunny or a life without purpose ever again.
Imagine a place where rabbit overpopulation simply doesn’t exist.
Now look around you.
We live in it, and we have to fight for it.
As it stands right now, rabbits wait in limbo between livestock and pets, but they are generally recognized under state and federal law as livestock. This means rabbits can be raised and utilized as multi-purpose animals.
This means rabbits never need to see the inside of an animal shelter.
Consider this: Rabbits are more than livestock, and rabbits are more than pets.
Many, many people enjoy rabbits as companion pets. They have excellent dispositions, unique personalities, and are certainly as loved and appreciated as a cat or dog. But rabbits have an advantage over other companion pets – they’re not just pets.
Rabbits can be trained for agility sports. We can harvest their wool. They can even be raised for both human and animal consumption.
Rabbit is arguably one of the healthiest meats available. According to a nutritional comparison, rabbit meat is higher in protein, drastically lower in fat, lower in calories, and lower in cholesterol than chicken, lamb, beef, and pork.
Why would we not only throw away a valuable resource, but create a problem of overpopulation by re-classifying rabbits as pets only? Does that benefit the animal, or does it just give us a piece of mind? Are rabbits really happy being passed from home to home or between shelters, or does make us feel better only because they’re alive?
I think putting animals in that position unnecessarily is selfish. It does make us feel better to know an animal was “saved,” but now there are hundreds or thousands sitting in temporary homes. That’s maintenance, not a solution.
That isn’t love for the animal, nor is it respect for their lives. And yet, there is a growing number of people who feel as though rabbits are classified as livestock because no one cares about what happens to them.
Because we’ve been conditioned to think that using animals is selfish. We’ve been conditioned to think that animals raised for consumption are subjected to horrendous, filthy conditions with little human interaction and a painful end.
It doesn’t have to be that way.
Remember what I said a few posts ago: Treating animals humanely doesn’t mean treating them like a human.
Humane is caring for our animals properly while they’re here. Humane is providing clean, fresh water to drink, fulfilling, nutritious food to eat, and a safe shelter. Humane is ensuring that every animal lives a comfortable life, whether they’re a house pet or a livestock animal.
Humane is when an animal’s needs are met for the length of it’s life. And respect is appreciating them even after their life is over.
Humane is not limiting a species strictly to human companionship.
When we draw that line, we are being selfish. We’re saying that it’s better for rabbits to be outnumbered by thousands and waiting in rescue because it makes us feel better that they are alive.
Rabbits, as a species, do not need to meet the fate of dogs and cats around the country that are euthanized daily and dumped because there is nothing else we can do. They don’t need to spend months in small cages or kennels waiting to be adopted.
For rabbits, there is something we can do.
Rabbits are livestock not because we don’t care, but because we do.
Photo courtesy of www.stockfreeimages.com.