SCOTLAND’S former justice secretary has backed a campaign by rabbit rights campaigners to improve the welfare of the “furry monsters”.
Rabbits Require Rights today called for the pets to be granted similar protection to cats and dogs at Holyrood’s Public Petitions Committee.
Campaigner Karen Gray told the committee: “It’s not that we want pet rabbits to disappear altogether, it’s just that they are out of control.
“People still view them as cheap, easy, cuddly, child-friendly, and they are far from it. They are one of the most difficult pets.
“They’ve got specific needs. They’re certainly not cheap, they’re not cuddly, they don’t like being picked up.
“Of course they look cute, but they are just little furry monsters wrapped in fluff.
“The pet industry does very little to change these views.
“Just recently there was a pet shop in Kilmarnock which was one of many saying rabbits are great for kids and they would love a bunny for Easter.
“It’s like puppies for Christmas - it leads to high levels of neglect.”
SNP MSP Kenny MacAskill, justice secretary in Alex Salmond’s Scottish Government, said: “I think there is an underlying issue here.
“I was taken by the comments made about rabbits being classified as exotic pets.
“Having been round the SSPCA (Scottish Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) welfare centres it’s not simply rabbits, cats and dogs, but chinchillas, salamanders, exotic birds, you name it.
“We live in a global world and animals are being traded and openly sold.
“I don’t necessarily know what the solution is here but I think an issue has been raised, and it would therefore be appropriate to ask the government for their take on what may be their thoughts with regards to rabbits, and perhaps even the wider issue, although that isn’t the petition before us.”
“Certainly, also raising it with the SSPCA and the Pet Industry Federation.”
The committee agreed to seek the views of the SSPCA and the Pet Industry Federation before writing to the Scottish Government.