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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. Domesticated birds
  20. Euthanasia
  21. Fostering
  22. Fowls
  23. homelessness
  24. Humans
  25. Lagomorpha
  26. Leporidae
  27. Mammals
  28. Massachusetts
  29. Men
  30. New England
  31. North America
  32. OECD countries
  33. peer-reviewed
  34. Pets and companion animals
  35. population dynamics
  36. Poultry
  37. Primates
  38. rabbits
  39. shelters
  40. United States of America
  41. vertebrates
  1. peer-reviewed