Establish Standard of Care for Rabbits

Target: US Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack

Goal: Establish legal standard of care for pet rabbits

Rabbits are gaining popularity as a house pet, especially in metropolitan areas where the clean and quiet animals are perfect apartment companions. However, rabbits are delicate and exotic pets with very specific dietary and environmental needs. This information is not common knowledge to the average pet owner, and yet while most reputable animal shelters will ensure their adopters are informed about the needs of their new companion animal, rabbits are often sold in pet stores across the nation to guardians who are ill-equipped to care for them.

In the wild, rabbits have warrens and communities for warmth and support, and they have the freedom to move about and away from their own excrement. In many pet owners’ homes, rabbits are kept outside in all weather locked in small hutches, oftentimes alone, where they are terrified by wild animals at night, and often die from preventable conditions such as fly strike or poisoning from pesticides. Wire-bottom hutches cause agonizing pain for their feet and they can develop painful sores on their hocks. Because they are naturally prey animals, rabbits do their best to hide pain and illness with their body language and can seem completely normal when they are not closely monitored for small discrepancies in behavior, and as a result, ill-informed pet owners who keep their pets out of sight in the yard can be totally unaware of the rabbits’ suffering until it is too late.

Although rabbits are regularly eaten as food in America, it should not be so difficult to establish a standard of treatment for the animals, which are especially vulnerable to all kinds of abuse because of their small size and general passive and skittish temperament. They are subject to cruelty from ignorant pet owners, the barely regulated cosmetic and animal-testing industry, and the food industry. Please sign this petition to support the institution of an informed standard of care for rabbits across the nation.


Dear Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack,

As rabbits gain popularity as a house pet, I believe it is vitally important that the special care and consideration these animals need should become as common as the pets themselves. Unfortunately, this is not the case. Many rabbit owners simply do not have the resources available, or do not care to inform themselves, about the very specific type of care these animals require to live long and healthy lives.

I am asking you to please establish a basic standard of care for rabbits that outlines specifically those things that constitute abuse, such as leaving the rabbit out of doors in all weather confined in a small space, leaving them helpless to fly strike and pesticide poisoning, or trapping them in a hutch overnight to be terrified by wild animals.

Rabbits are delicate creatures with specific needs, and we have no right to claim to be caretakers when we treat them like objects. Please establish and enforce a more definitive standard of care for rabbits in the United States.


[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Julien Flacassier

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105 Signatures

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