May 19, 2011
Companion rabbits are a cherished part of millions of Americans’ families.
These intelligent, social animals closely bond with other rabbits and their human caregivers.
Their personalities and preferences are as distinct as those of any cat or dog.
Yet each year in the United States, up to 2 million rabbits are raised and slaughtered in ways that would shock any compassionate person.
Inhumane, but not uncommon
Many of the U.S. rabbit meat producers keep animals in restrictive cages similar to conditions endured by most of the country's egg-laying hens. Several rabbits can be crowded into a wire enclosure that gives each animal the same amount of floor space as a sheet of legal-sized paper, often causing health problems.
Once separated from their mothers and moved into cages, young rabbits—called "fryers"—languish for approximately 9 to 10 weeks, at which point producers typically ship them to one of the few rabbit slaughterhouses.
Rabbit slaughter plants may attempt to stun rabbits by breaking their necks, although this can be ineffective when the animals are too large. Rabbits are slaughtered using a number of other inhumane methods, including having their heads struck with a piece of iron pipe, having their necks cut before being hung up to be "bled out," and by decapitation. Many smaller breeders slaughter rabbits themselves.
Little protection from abuse
Few protections exist for the millions of rabbits raised in confinement for meat each year. Only a small fraction of U.S. rabbit producers are federally inspected, and USDA certification is currently on a voluntary basis. What’s more, the USDA interprets the Humane Methods of Slaughter Act to exempt chickens, turkeys, and other animals such as rabbits from the HMSA’s protection—which means that rabbits lack federal protection from even the worst slaughter abuses. In many states, they also have no state protection from inhumane slaughter practices.
Ways to help
Intensive confinement in cages and inhumane slaughter cause suffering for millions of rabbits each year.
- Make a choice for compassion, and leave rabbit meat off your plate.
- If a restaurant you visit serves rabbit meat, ask the manager to consider to taking this inhumane choice off the menu.