Commissioners Ban Bunny Sales in Pasco County, Florida
In an effort to curb the number of rabbits surrendered at Florida shelters or left to fend for themselves outside when they are no longer welcome companions, Pasco County Commissioners unanimously voted to ban the retail sale of bunnies in the area.
On October 11, commissioners approved the ordinance that will grant rabbits the same protections from being sold at pet stores that cats and dogs were given in 2020. This ban follows a looser ordinance passed back in June that only banned the public sale of bunnies in Pasco County, affecting flea markets and breeders selling animals openly. This new ban does not prevent breeders from selling rabbits privately or mills from operating in the county.
Rather than being able to sell bunnies, pet stores in the county will only be allowed to collaborate with rescues and shelters to host bunnies in need of a home, encouraging companion adoption.
Statistics show that bunnies, following dogs and cats, are the third most surrendered companion animal at shelters. Even worse, when bunnies are no longer wanted as companions, they are sometimes abandoned outside with the thought that they would be able to survive outdoors. Unlike their wild counterparts, domestic bunnies are not at all suited to live outside without shelter and protection and face many dangers like predators, harsh elements, lack of food, parasites, getting hit in traffic, and disease. Completely unable to survive in the wild, domestic bunnies die without the care they require from a guardian.
At pet stores, bunnies are often purchased for under $50 by people who do not fully understand they can be difficult companions to care for, living upwards of 10 years, requiring varied and expensive diets and medical care that is usually only provided by veterinarians who specialize in treating exotic animals. What often begins as an inexpensive purchase becomes a big commitment to ensuring a bunny has the exacting care they deserve - no small task that many people are unaware of when they buy a bunny on a whim.
Hillsborough County, about 45 minutes outside of Pasco County, may now reconsider a retail ban on the sale of rabbits. In early 2022, commissioners struck down a proposed rabbit retail ban, opting for an educational campaign instead, but data provided by the Humane Society of Tampa Bay showed no decrease in the number of bunnies surrendered following the campaign.
In Florida, dozens of cities and counties have passed some form of ban on the sale of animal companions, including Orange County, which has also banned the sale of bunnies, dogs, and cats in pet stores.
You can learn how you can be the responsible guardian of an adopted bunny or two and how to make your yard more friendly for wild rabbits by reading and sharing our bunny blog.