Friday, 24 March 2017

Charities unite to highlight brachy health issues

Charities unite to highlight brachy health issues in cats and rabbits; it’s not just dogs we need to worry about. In recent months the issue of health problems in short-faced or brachycephalic dogs has been highlighted to the public, in the media and following high profile events like this year’s Crufts. This week however, three major animal welfare charities have united to send the message that this problem is not limited to dogs alone. International Cat Care (iCatCare), the Rabbit Welfare Association and Fund (RWAF) and the RSPCA have come together to raise awareness that breeding cats and rabbits with exaggerated flat faces can cause health and welfare problems, as in dogs. Short-faced cats like Persians can have all the same issues as dogs – breathing and dental problems, skin fold infections and problems giving birth to name a few. Claire Bessant, chief executive of iCatCare, said, “It is very depressing to see the life which has been deliberately dealt to some breeds of cats because of a human desire to develop a certain look. I urge cat lovers to speak out and help others to understand that this is not something we should be doing to cats, and not something we should be tolerating. One of the best and most beautifully naturally designed animals – the cat – would not normally have any of these problems; we have created them through selective breeding. We should not be encouraging people to breed these cats by calling them 'cute', by being amused at their facial characteristics, or by the fact that they snore – rather we need to understand that this is human intervention that is wholly detrimental to the welfare of the cats and is simply cruel. International Cat Care takes an ethical view of all cat breeds and our website (http://icatcare.org/advice/cat-breeds) outlines the problems that exist for some breeds, including very flat-faced cats in the Persians and Exotic breeds. Our stance is that we should never deliberately breed cats for any feature or characteristic that impairs their welfare.” Sadly, rabbits have also fallen foul of the human desire for shorter, ‘cuter’ faces. Richard Saunders, head vet at RWAF, said, “Breeds like the Netherland dwarf and the popular Lionhead breed have become more and more brachycephalic. In rabbits this is disastrous. Rabbits’ teeth grow continuously throughout their whole lives and must line up exactly to wear down evenly. The short face means the bottom jaw is longer than the top one, just the same as in bulldogs and pugs and the teeth do not line up. Teeth soon overgrow causing chronic pain, lacerated mouths, abscesses and in many cases death. The tear duct is also distorted (as it is in brachycephalic cats) and the rabbits often have tears and even pus overflowing onto their faces. Hand in hand with the short faces come the lop ears, rather than the wild, natural upright ears. These rabbits have a high level of middle ear infections and can’t communicate with other rabbits normally, leading to behavioural problems. We would like to see an end to selection for "cute" faces and lop ears, and to preferentially breed rabbits with a more "wild type" face shape, which is associated with far fewer genetically induced diseases.” RSPCA dog welfare expert Lisa Richards said: “Dogs who have been bred to have short, flat faces often have narrow nostrils and abnormally-developed windpipes. They can suffer severe breathing problems and many have difficulty enjoying a walk or playing. The RSPCA believes there is still much to be done to protect the future health of dogs and that all those who breed dogs should prioritise health, welfare and temperament over appearance when choosing which animals to breed. For help when choosing a dog, please use the RSPCA/AWF Puppy Contract and if you're worried about the health of a particular puppy, contact a vet for advice. We are very concerned that these issues are now being seen in other species and would urge everyone concerned, from breeders to buyers, to do what they can to reduce the demand for such extremes.” Emma Milne, vet and long-time brachy campaigner, is a patron of RWAF and an ambassador for iCatCare. She said, “It’s been over 100 years since the first veterinary paper on the problems of brachycephaly in dogs. We MUST learn from what we have done to these animals and stop it in other species right now. These charities are world leaders in welfare science and the fact they have united to highlight this issue speaks volumes. I hope people listen.” Photographs of short-faced breeds superimposed onto ‘normal animals’ are shocking across every species;

Brachy breeds - not just dogs! Rabbits too.

We see a range of common problems in rabbits which have been bred for shorter, "cuter" faces, such as the Netherland Dwarf and Lionhead, . due to the shortening of the upper jaw relative to the lower, giving a slightly undershot appearance., In rabbits, with their continuously growing teeth, which need to grind against their opposing number to maintain their length and shape, the consequences are more severe than in dogs. The front teeth grow in an uncontrolled fashion, jutting out of the mouth, and preventing them from eating. And their roots become elongated and distorted at the same time, causing problems below the gum line, such as blocking the nasolachrimal duct. That short top jaw means that this duct, the tube carrying tears from the eye to the back of the nose, is already tortuous and easily blocked. This is one of the reasons (along with the effects of front tooth dental disease), why rabbits may have tears or even pus overflowing from their eyes, an unpleasant and potentially painful condition. The effective "crowding" of the back teeth inside the mouth may also be a factor in the huge number of rabbits which go on to develop dental disease there. We see a range of common problems in rabbits which have been bred for shorter, "cuter" faces, such as the Netherland Dwarf and Lionhead, . due to the shortening of the upper jaw relative to the lower, giving a slightly undershot appearance., In rabbits, with their continuously growing teeth, which need to grind against their opposing number to maintain their length and shape, the consequences are more severe than in dogs. The front teeth grow in an uncontrolled fashion, jutting out of the mouth, and preventing them from eating. And their roots become elongated and distorted at the same time, causing problems below the gum line, such as blocking the nasolachrimal duct. That short top jaw means that this duct, the tube carrying tears from the eye to the back of the nose, is already tortuous and easily blocked. This is one of the reasons (along with the effects of front tooth dental disease), why rabbits may have tears or even pus overflowing from their eyes, an unpleasant and potentially painful condition. The effective "crowding" of the back teeth inside the mouth may also be a factor in the huge number of rabbits which go on to develop dental disease there

Wednesday, 1 February 2017

Rabbit breeding facility - letter of objection

This is our letter of objection to the proposed rabbit breeding facility. Although welfare is our concern, it is not a planning concern, so any objections should be based on the relevant planning policy. This is the planning application: http://planning.sholland.gov.uk/OcellaWeb/showDocuments?reference=H23-1295-16&module=pl Objection to planning application ref: H23-1295-16 – Proposed building for the breeding of pet rabbits on Land off Whale Drove, Whaplode Drove, PE12 0UB I am writing to register an objection to the above planning application on behalf of the Rabbit Welfare Fund (RWF), who have several concerns relating to the development proposal. The following points of objection are raised in respect of the application to erect a building for the breeding of pet rabbits on land off Whale Drove. The main areas of concern over the planning application have been broken down into material considerations, with an assessment of how each aspect fails to meet the relevant planning policy. The National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) sets out three dimensions to sustainable development as economic, social and environmental. While the proposed scheme at Whale Drove could contribute towards the local economy, in respect of the social and environmental benefits the proposals are seriously flawed. The social and environmental aspects will be considered more fully in the following paragraphs. By failing to meet the social and environmental requirements of planning policy, the proposal cannot be considered sustainable and is not in compliance with the NPPF or Policy SG4 (Development in the Countryside) of the South Holland Local Plan 2006 and Policy 10 (Employment Development in the Countryside) from the emerging Local Plan. The agent’s supporting Planning Statement claims that the proposed use is an agricultural use and therefore is compatible with a rural location. In fact, the rabbit breeding facility is not classified as an agricultural use if the rabbits are being bred for domestic pets. The use could only be classified as agricultural if the rabbits are being bred for their meat or fur. On the basis that the proposed pet breeding facility is not an agricultural use, nor a land-based rural business, the development does not need to be located in a countryside location. Policy 10 (Employment Development in the Countryside) of the emerging Local Plan does not make any provision for businesses that are not agricultural or land-based in rural, countryside locations. Accordingly the proposed development is incompatible with the countryside location and the proposed location is unsustainable and contrary to Policy 2 (Spatial Strategy) of the emerging Local Plan. This type of business should not be located in the open countryside, which ordinarily its protected from development in order to preserve the countryside and the landscape character. As such the proposal is thought to be contrary to Policy 29 (Design of New Development) of the emerging Local Plan and would be incongruous in this countryside location. No evidence has been submitted to demonstrate that there are no suitable buildings or sites within a settlement available for the purpose identified. Furthermore the proposal is not justified by a business plan. Both of these requirements are identified in Policy 10 (Employment in the Countryside of the emerging Local Plan, and hence the proposal fails to meet the policy criteria. As mentioned above, no business plan has been submitted with the proposals, and on the basis of the Inspector’s comments in the previous appeal decision for the site, there is doubt over whether the business can run profitably. The RWF have serious concerns over the viability of the business, on the basis that pet ownership of rabbits has dropped from 1 million in 2014 in the UK to 0.8 million in 2016 in the UK (TNS). With the demand for rabbits in the UK falling, the long term viability of the business is put into further doubt. If the business is not sustainable in the longer term, then planning permission should not be granted, as the harm caused to the landscape character by the erection of a new building, completely unrelated to any other built form in the locality cannot be justified in any way, and again, would be contrary to Policy 10 of the emerging Local Plan. Given that the location of the development is remote from all services and the site is not served by any sustainable methods of transport, the proposal will generate an increase in traffic accessing the site (which is in an unsustainable location) generated through workers accessing the site and customers coming to view and collect animals. This is contrary to paragraphs 30 and 37 of the NPPF. A commercial business such as this should not be located away from more built up and more accessible areas. Further concerns regarding the proposal relate to a security/crime risk at the site, due to no 24 hour on-site presence being available. This problem is exacerbated through the fact that the site is in such an isolated location. Finally, the RWF are also concerned over the welfare of rabbits that would be bred at the proposed facility. Very limited detail is included within the planning application on the enclosures, and as a commercial breeder the applicant would need to meet relevant legislation in terms of providing the correct standard of breeding cages and also transportation of the animals. On the basis of the information submitted with this proposal it is not understood whether the relevant welfare standards can be met, which casts further doubt over the viability of the business, should the facility then be required on welfare grounds to breed rabbits at a lower intensity. I trust that the local planning authority will give due weight to the points of objection identified in this letter and resolve to refuse this planning application accordingly.

Monday, 2 January 2017

Time to Make Your Rabbit Resolutions! We can all be a bit critical of New Year’s resolutions but some do stick, so here are some resolutions for anyone who wants to help pet rabbits – amongst the most neglected and misunderstood pets. Please take a look at the suggestions below and make some rabbit resolutions! And yes, some resolutions do only last a month, so we’ve included some January specific ideas too! Please share! 1) Order an 'On the Hop' booklet and give it to someone you know who has a bunny, they could use some extra advice and information. https://www.paypal.com/cgi-bin/webscr… 2) Raise money for the RWAF’s “A Hutch is Not Enough” campaign at no cost to you by using Give as You Live when you shop on-line. https://www.giveasyoulive.com/charity/rabbitwelfarefund Or use Easy Fundraising, which does exactly the same thing: http://www.easyfundraising.org.uk/causes/rwaf Or The Giving Machine: http://www.thegivingmachine.co.uk/beneficiary.php… 3) Adopt a bunny! If you have a single rabbit then think about adopting another. Sociability is a huge part of a rabbit’s make-up so every bunny needs some bunny to love. Rescues have been inundated this winter and most are full and not able to help any more. Please check out saveafluff.co.uk or rescuereview.co.uk to find a rescue local to you, and talk to them about adopting a friend for your bun. 4) If you can not adopt, then you can support your local rescue by offering to help clean out, or donate hay and food. 5) Spread the word - during January please pledge to share one of our posters or messages every week. Help us educate lots of other rabbit owners about good diet, housing, companionship and health issues because sadly, many owners don’t know what their rabbits need to live happy and healthy lives. Please share this post for starters and keep an eye out for future postings and get busy with that share button! If and when we share a poster, please print it off and ask a local pet shop, garden centre, school or place of work to display it. 6) Change your cover photo to our 'A Hutch is Not Enough' image (attached to this posting) for a month. 7) Order one of our “A Hutch is Not Enough” car stickers for only £2 and help spread the word! If you don’t have a car then any window will do! https://www.paypal.com/cgi-bin/webscr… 8 ) Look for the leaping bunny logo: www.leapingbunny.org and make sure any cosmetics and household products you buy are not tested on bunnies (or any other animals). M&S, Superdrug, Co-op, Sainsbury and Barry M are among the brands that all offer cruelty free options. 9) If you are not already a member then please join us! You will love Rabbiting On Magazine. We do our best to keep our members up to date on the latest health, behaviour and welfare issues and use recognised experts, so you can trust us. And of course there are plenty of pictures of our favourite pets too! Join up on a subscription and get all 4 issues as they come out each year. https://www.paypal.com/cgi-bin/webscr… Please note these links are for UK delivery only, for outside of the UK please contact us at hq@rabbitwelfare.co.uk 10) Last but by no means not least – please remember to always give your bunnies the lives they deserve. They need plenty of space, the right diet, companionship, health checks and an enriching environment to allow them to display their natural behaviours. Let them be rabbits! Thank you everybody, have a fantastic new year!