GuelphToday received the following letter to the editor from reader James Smith in response to our story Ontario’s first outdoor bunny cafe opening in Belwood.
Dear Guelph Today,
I am writing in reference to an article by Taylor Pace about Sarah Murray's Mad Hatter Bakes and Brews Food Truck.
I have several concerns about the welfare of her rabbits inside a very short two foot high fence, and wonder if Ms. Murray is aware of the complex needs of these wonderful, fragile creatures.
Rabbits have very delicate skeletons and can suffer mortal injury if picked up incorrectly. As prey animals, they are very fearful of loud noise (sound track to films) and can fall prey to predators such as hawks, eagles (who won't be deterred by a fence), foxes, coyotes and many more. Outdoor rabbits are prone to heat stroke and a terrible, fatal illness called fly strike. If a rabbit feels stressed, s/he likely will stop eating, which leads to gastro-intestinal stasis, which leads to death very quickly -- i.e., within 24 hours. Another concern which arose last year was the introduction of rabbit hemmorhagic viral disease to southwestern Ontario; this is very contagious and results in terrible pain before the rabbit's death.
I hope that Ms. Pace will write another article after researching the appropriate care of rabbits, since some people may be inspired to buy or adopt a rabbit, but not have the requisite knowledge to provide their pet with excellent care, including veterinary care.