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story time: Had to call the SPCA about bunnies

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Floyd2019

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Story time

So i work with special needs kids and today my work decided to take the kids to a corn maze. There is one near our town, so we drive out to it.
Right away i see this little black and white bunny with big ol ears eagerly jumping up at the bars of a dirty little petsmart cage, much too small for him. It was filled with plain grass amd a head of browning iceberg lettuce. It had mangy, rough fur and stained urin feet, as well as fur thinning around it's neck amd slightly goopy eyes. I was instantly alarmed but had to follow my group out to the cornmaze. Outside i saw another tiny handmade, triangle shaped hutch made out of wood and wire, with a wire bottom. Again there was no hay inside, just water and a head of iceberg lettuce? This bunny seemed healthier, but was picking at hrass through the wire bottom.
I found more bunnies in the petting zoo, in a larger pen covered with straw and no hay, getting grabbed at by kids, as per petting zoo protocol. I was very stressed and ended up spending time with the little mangy rabbit who was inside the building in the shade since it was really hot out.
The little black and white guy is probably not even a year old, he really wanted attention and tried to binky in the tiny space when i pet him through the bars. He melted into head rubs and started purring.
I asked the owner why some rabbits were in tiny hutches and he just said it's because they are males. So they apparently do live in these tiny cages, and he said he has more all over the farm.
I didn't really know what to do so i called the local SPCA and asked if they can do an animal welfare check. They said yes as it didn't sound super great.
I am very nervous as I don't like to meddle but it was alarming and now i can't stop thinking about that cute little bun. I think he is a bit malnourished and I want him to be somewhere in a loving home where he will get lots of cuddles.
Has anyone else had to report bunny concerns? It makes me feel weird. It might just be a farmer being old fashiones and thinking the bunnies are fine. I feel guilty but also relieved
 

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majorv

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I have mixed feelings about this and I may get some flack for this. Some people see rabbits as pets and some see them as livestock. I think that this tends to be forgotten sometimes. To get a better idea of how they’re being treated it helps to make multiple observations. If they are using the bucks for breeding then they typically can be in smaller cages. I’m just saying that even though you may not agree with how someone keeps their animals that doesn’t always mean it’s inhumane.
 
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Floyd2019

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I have mixed feelings about this and I may get some flack for this. Some people see rabbits as pets and some see them as livestock. I think that this tends to be forgotten sometimes. To get a better idea of how they’re being treated it helps to make multiple observations. If they are using the bucks for breeding then they typically can be in smaller cages. I’m just saying that even though you may not agree with how someone keeps their animals that doesn’t always mean it’s inhumane.
But they should still be given hay and room to move around. Also these are not meat rabbits i know for a fact. None of the animals there are used for food except the hens lay eggs that the farmer sells. It is purely a petting zoo and entertainment farm. The bunnies need hay, picking grass through the wire floor isn't going to cut it. And something was wrong with the little guy but when i asked the farmer if he is being quarantined for some reason he just said no he lives in there and all the bunnies live in the cages they are in. I thought that seemed cruel as every other animal has plenty of room to run, even the chickens.
 

Preitler

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I appreciate that you worry about the rabbits, but getting authorities or whoever involved can open a really bad can of worms. One of the other breeders in my road has quite questionable standards about keeping rabbits, to say the least, but he is an old, a little mentally challenged guy and keeps the rabbits at his 92yo mothers place, so every day he has to get there, care for the rabbits and visit his mom. I doubt he would muster the energy to go across town on bike every day if there were no rabbits. I try to nag him into the right direction, help where I can, but, alas, there's still a long way to go.

If I were you I would look up what the local laws are on keeping rabbits, then speak with the owner, pointing out some things that are easily remedied. I would point out that some things about how the rabbits are kept would be considered negligent or even cruel by people who are into pet rabbits, and if talks about that start (like this one right here) or someone calls in the official raiding party it would put his whole business or enterprise into jeopardy. Stay calm, don't judge, be prepared for the talk.

BTW, rabbits don't need hay when they have grass, weeds and forage. That grazing cage is not that bad at all if the rabbit has somewhere to retreat to, get into shadow and hide. Hay is just the next best, and incredible convienient substitute to forage or fresh grass from the ground. I feed forage most of the year, my rabbits graze a lot, hay is for winter, apart from a small, mostly untouched amount that I keep replacing during the warmer months. That is a lot of work though, pointing out that hay is pretty cheap when bought in bulk anyway might help.
 

Floyd2019

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I appreciate that you worry about the rabbits, but getting authorities or whoever involved can open a really bad can of worms. One of the other breeders in my road has quite questionable standards about keeping rabbits, to say the least, but he is an old, a little mentally challenged guy and keeps the rabbits at his 92yo mothers place, so every day he has to get there, care for the rabbits and visit his mom. I doubt he would muster the energy to go across town on bike every day if there were no rabbits. I try to nag him into the right direction, help where I can, but, alas, there's still a long way to go.

If I were you I would look up what the local laws are on keeping rabbits, then speak with the owner, pointing out some things that are easily remedied. I would point out that some things about how the rabbits are kept would be considered negligent or even cruel by people who are into pet rabbits, and if talks about that start (like this one right here) or someone calls in the official raiding party it would put his whole business or enterprise into jeopardy. Stay calm, don't judge, be prepared for the talk.

BTW, rabbits don't need hay when they have grass, weeds and forage. That grazing cage is not that bad at all if the rabbit has somewhere to retreat to, get into shadow and hide. Hay is just the next best, and incredible convienient substitute to forage or fresh grass from the ground. I feed forage most of the year, my rabbits graze a lot, hay is for winter, apart from a small, mostly untouched amount that I keep replacing during the warmer months. That is a lot of work though, pointing out that hay is pretty cheap when bought in bulk anyway might help.
Well he has tons of hay for all his other farm animals that he could easily give the bunnies. The bunnies in the petting zoo pen had no hay and no access to forage as the ground was wood amd covered in straw.
Where i live there are lots of farms so the spca is very aware of how farm animals can be treated and how they can look. I called them to do exactly what you just described. Talk to the farmer about standards of care. All they do during a wellness check is make sure that animals have the proper food, environment and a good quality of life especially if they are not food animals which these bunnies are not. He does not breed bunnies either as he told me he does not want the bucks with the does specifically because he doesn't want breedinv. It's a petting zoo, people who run petting zoos are not always super interested in giving their animals a good quality of life, i know because i used to work on one when i was younger due to my ranching background and i couldn't work there for long before i lost it on the owner about the standards of animal care.
I'm not worried the authorities will shut him down which is why i called. But i figured someone will talk to him and decide whether or not the bunnies are ok and it doesn't have to be me, especially because i was technically working at the time i was there and it would be inappropriate for me to get overly distracted and neglect caring for the kids i work with. If anything the peace officer will have a chat with him and look around.
 

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