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Call for better rabbit welfare laws

Wednesday April 16th 2014

The UK's 1.7 million pet rabbits need better legal protection to ensure welfare standards, says a leading scientist.

James Oxley, who carries out research on how rabbit owners interact with their pets, said a review was needed to not only look at how existing laws impact on rabbits, but also how the UK's legislation compares with other EU countries, which may have a more robust system.

Mr Oxley, who was writing in the World Rabbit Science Association's journal, said that the UK's current legislation in the Animal Welfare Act 2006 did not have requirements on the minimum size of hutches or whether rabbits should be kept in pairs.

In a letter published in the journal World Rabbit Science, he said: "Currently there have only been several small-scale studies in the UK which have looked at the management, personality and behaviour of pet rabbits and the views, personality and attitudes of new and current rabbit owners."

According to one study, 60% of rabbit owners planned to have an enclosure which was either the same, or smaller, than the recommended minimum size, while 41% said they would keep their rabbits on its own.

Copyright Press Association 2014

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