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Quantifying the shelter rabbit population: an analysis of Massachusetts and Rhode Island animal shelters

By A. J. Cook, E. McCobb

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Scholarly work on the nonhuman animal shelter population has widely focused on cats and dogs. As a result, little is known about the population dynamics of domestic rabbits (Oryctolagus cuniculus) in shelters. The records from 4 companion animal shelters in Massachusetts and Rhode Island were analyzed to describe these dynamics. A majority of the rabbits at the 4 shelters were surrendered by their caregivers, were between 1 and 6 years old, and were unaltered at the time of intake. The most common reasons for surrender were the caregivers' inability to care for the rabbits or a lack of interest in doing so. Over half of the total rabbit population was subsequently adopted and the overall live release rate (percentage of rabbits leaving the shelter alive) was 75.54%. In some cases, the use of a foster care system was correlated with a decrease in the euthanasia rate. The results from this study will help the sheltering field clarify the scope of the problem of homeless rabbits.

Publication Title Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science
Volume 15
Issue 4
Pages 297-312
ISBN/ISSN 1088-8705
Publisher Taylor & Francis
DOI 10.1080/10888705.2012.709084
Language English
Author Address Center for Animals and Public Policy, Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine, Tufts University, 200 Westboro Road, North Grafton, MA 01536,
Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  1. Analysis
  2. animal breed
  3. Animal ecology
  4. Animal genetics
  5. Animal housing
  6. Animal rights
  7. Animals
  8. Animal welfare
  9. APEC countries
  10. Birds
  11. Breeds
  12. Canidae
  13. Canine
  14. Carnivores
  15. Cats
  16. Chickens
  17. Developed countries
  18. Dogs
  19. Euthanasia
  20. Fostering
  21. Fowls
  22. homelessness
  23. Humans
  24. Lagomorpha
  25. Leporidae
  26. Mammals
  27. Massachusetts
  28. Men
  29. New England
  30. North America
  31. OECD countries
  32. peer-reviewed
  33. Pets and companion animals
  34. population dynamics
  35. Poultry
  36. Primates
  37. rabbits
  38. shelters
  39. United States of America
  40. vertebrates
  1. peer-reviewed