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Thurston: Charity reports sharp increase in number of dumped rabbits

PUBLISHED: 17:00 21 August 2013

Melissa Murcott from Acton with one of the rabbits dumped at Thurston Rugby Club. She adopted it from Thumpers Rabbit Rescue

Melissa Murcott from Acton with one of the rabbits dumped at Thurston Rugby Club. She adopted it from Thumpers Rabbit Rescue

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More than 20 pet rabbits that were dumped on a rugby pitch in west Suffolk have been found new homes.

But the Ipswich charity that took in the animals abandoned at Thurston, near Bury St Edmunds, has warned that the volume of rabbits being dumped across Suffolk has hit an all-time high.

Diane Rogerson, of Thumpers Rabbit Rescue, said this year had been their busiest since opening the Defoe Road premises 14 years ago.

This is in line with RSPCA figures for 2012, which showed an alarming 264.9% rise in the number of animal welfare convictions relating to small mammals, including rabbits.

Mrs Rogerson said: “We used to get a lot of individual rabbits brought in by people who had been affected by the financial crisis and simply couldn’t afford to keep them.

“But recently there has been a worrying trend towards people dumping rabbits because they don’t want them. This has been one of the worst years for the sheer volume of rabbits being abandoned – we recently had 26 all in one go and 14 of these were dumped across Ipswich.

“I think people believe they can earn extra money by breeding rabbits and then find they can’t so they just turf them out.”

The RSPCA Prosecutions Annual Report for 2012 showed a 15.7% increase in the number of defendants convicted for cruelty to animals in England and Wales. In Suffolk, 10 defendants were prosecuted, resulting in 25 convictions.

Those people who abandoned the rabbits at Thurston were charged with offences in breach of the Animal Welfare Act and were banned from keeping animals for five years.

Mrs Rogerson added: “The RSPCA has come in for a lot of flak recently for spending money on prosecutions, but as far as incidents such as this one are concerned, it is really the only way that charities like ours can get some sort of justice for the animals.”

Melissa Murcott, from Acton, near Sudbury, who adopted one of the Thurston rabbits, said: “They are intelligent creatures and can be hugely entertaining and make wonderful pets if you treat them as part of the family.”

Contact Thumpers Rabbit Rescue on 01473 461937.

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