SINGAPORE - If you are buying a pet rabbit for auspicious reasons as the Lunar Year of Rabbit in 2011 approaches, don't.
This is the advice from the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) and the House Rabbit Society Singapore (HRSS), issued in a joint press release.
The animal welfare organisations are discouraging people from buying rabbits as gifts or on impulse for superstitious reasons, especially for children - unless the parents are willing to make a 10-year commitment to the animal, which equates the the typical life span of a rabbit. It is concerned that rabbits end up abandoned when the child loses interest.
In addition, contrary to the assumption, rabbits are not low maintenance animals. Many people, especially children, do not realise rabbits are fragile, ground-loving creatures that will struggle when held and are easily hurt when dropped.
President of HRSS, Jacelyn Heng said: "Many pets in Singapore suffer unnecessarily because of ignorance on the part of their owners. Many people buy pets on impulse and do not fully understand the responsibilities of keeping an animal at home. The problem is particularly acute for rabbits because people wrongly assume that they are low-maintenance starter pets for children."
Ms Heng added that many pet shops in Singapore are also not well informed about the care needed for a pet rabbit and often provide wrong or false information to unknowing first-time owners.
The last Year of the Rabbit in 1999, SPCA reported that there were 625 abandoned pet rabbits. This was a 116 per cent increase from the year before.
In the past two years, the number of rabbits abandoned or neglected is 1,200.
The HRSS recommends adopting a rabbit from the SPCA or the HRSS instead of buying from a shop. For those who are unsure about the commitment that they are able to offer, perhaps a soft toy would do just as well for this Lunar New Year's celebrations.