The Rabbit Welfare Association and Fund wants greater protection for domestic rabbits in light of EU ban on animal testing of cosmetics.

The Rabbit Welfare Association and Fund (RWAF) has welcomed the EU ban on animal testing of cosmetics.

Hutches not good for rabbit welfare.The ban came into force on March 11, 2013 and applies to all new cosmetics and their ingredients sold in the EU, regardless of where the animal testing was carried out.

However, RWAF was keen to stress while the ban is good news, thousands of rabbits still suffer due to a lack of understanding of their needs by owners, and a lack of legislation to protect pet rabbits.

RWAF veterinary expert advisor Richard Saunders said: “Unbelievably, we have more legislation to protect lab rabbits than for pet rabbits. For example, many rabbit hutches are for sale below the legal requirement for lab rabbits.

“Rabbits are not battery animals. But if a rabbit is confined to a hutch of less than 4ft x 2ft then that’s how they’re being kept – in worse conditions than are allowed for lab rabbits.

“The problem rabbits face is most are kept as the Victorians kept them – for food – in a hutch for easy access. We are making great steps in some areas of animal welfare, but somehow it’s still seen as okay to keep an animal that needs to run, jump and dig confined to a hutch, and there’s very little protection through the law.”

With Easter just a few weeks away, RWAF has urged people not to take on rabbits without first looking into everything involved in looking after them correctly.

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