Welcome to the Year of the Rabbit, But Don’t Take it Home

PetMD Editorial
Updated: March 17, 2015
Published: February 03, 2011
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It seems like only a few weeks ago that we heralded the start of a new year, and here we are again, celebrating the beginning of yet another year.

We’re referring to the Chinese New year, of course, which means that for those who ascribe to the Chinese zodiac, 2011 will be distinguished by the characteristics of the rabbit.

Creative, optimistic, friendly, gentle, sensitive and compassionate, the rabbit seems like the type of friend anyone would like to bring home, and unlike last year’s tiger, or 2009’s ox, the rabbit is a much easier animal to adopt in the hopes of bringing fortune home. That latter point is exactly what has some animal rights activists worried.

Their worries are justified. The last year that marked the year of the rabbit, 1999, saw an upswing in the adoption of rabbits as pets. Many were later abandoned, given up to animal shelters, or neglected by people who found that rabbits were not always the easy to care for pets their zodiac personality profiles had promised. According to the Singapore chapter of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA), they had a 116 percent rise in the number of rabbits handed over to them for relinquishment.

Many pet retailers are taking full advantage of the instant enamor a baby bunny inspires in people, and the ease at which they can be bred for quick sale, by increasing the population of rabbits and pushing their sale ahead of kittens and puppies. People are buying at pet stores, of course, but they are also buying over the Internet, a risky venture where the promise of a healthy animal is not always upheld by the seller. And each sale of an animal bred purely for profit encourages the continued production of these animals.

In response, the SPCA of Singapore has joined forces with the House Rabbit Society to discourage people from making an impulse buy, reminding potential owners that rabbits require as much attention to their health and welfare as dogs and cats.

Image: juliakoz / via Flickr