SPCA New Zealand

Animals as prizes

24 April 2019
Animals as prizes

Animals as prizes

At Easter time, SPCA receives animal welfare complaints about animals, particularly rabbits, being given away as prizes, or used as part of in-store promotions for Easter.

While businesses likely have no ill-intent towards the animals, unfortunately these activities and promotions cause harm to the animals. SPCA opposes the giving of live animals as prizes of any kind.

It is important to note that taking on any pet is a serious commitment which should not be taken on without prior research and the ability to provide for the physical, health, and behavioural needs of the animal for its entire lifetime.

‘Easter bunnies’ as prizes

Rabbits are a prey species, and are easily startled by sudden noises or movements. Participating in a prize giveaway or an in-store “petting area” is a very stressful experience for a rabbit. If the rabbit is being handled, there are a lot of children about, or large volumes of foot traffic nearby, the experience will be particularly traumatising for the rabbit.

Rabbit 101

Rabbits are often thought of as an easy pet for children to care for, but they do have specific care requirements.

Rabbits are intelligent, social animals with a life-span of eight to twelve years. Taking on a rabbit requires the same level of commitment as taking on a dog or cat. Just like any other animal, rabbits should be seen by a veterinarian at least once a year for check-ups and vaccination boosters. Dental problems, eye problems, matting, and digestive problems are common health issue seen in rabbits. Pet rabbits require a special diet to meet their nutritional needs, but often this is not provided to them and thus can result in serious health consequences.

Rabbits are highly social species and should not be kept alone. Even rabbits who enjoy interacting with their human family need the companionship of another rabbit and rabbits should generally live in compatible, bonded, desexed pairs.

Keeping rabbits as pets is more difficult than most people realise but, if all their physical, health, and behavioural needs are met, they can make wonderful pets. SPCA encourages anyone thinking of welcoming a rabbit into their lives to thoroughly research their needs before making this commitment and to consider adopting rather than purchasing one.

Hutch sizes

We have seen many live animals being kept ‘on display’ in an enclosure wholly inappropriate for them. Rabbits in particular need sufficient space to perform natural behaviours such as hopping, stretching, and running around.

SPCA recommends a minimum hutch size of 3m (L) x 1.5m (W) x 0.75m (H) or equivalent area with other dimensions, but bigger is always better! Rabbits should also always have a run attached to their hutch or ideally a safe, fenced area which allows them freedom to run and play.

Alternative prize ideas

SPCA discourages giving live animals as prizes and instead suggests some animal-oriented alternative prizes:

·Stuffed animals/plush toys

·Animal enrichment prizes, such as puzzle feeders, correctly sized hutches or tanks, chew toys, bedding, species-appropriate food, leads/leashes

·Animal books and games

·Vouchers for local pet stores

If you have any concerns regarding animal welfare, or see in-store competitions using live animals as prizes, contact your local SPCA centre and let them know of the situation.

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