Last month, one of the foremost Mini Rex breeders was taken down by odor complaints and an inflexible animal control in Indiana. Nearly four hundred prime show animals were taken without compensation, spayed and neutered, and dumped into the rescue system.
Could this article have helped the owner prevent the seizure? Read on, and you tell me.
Crossposting permission granted with proper citation/credit as below. Hope it helps! :) PA
UNDER ATTACK: Are You Ready?
Copyright 2011, rev.2013 Pamela Alley, Director,
Rabbit Industry Council RIC@cncnet.com
The business and hobby of rabbits and cavies is under attack.
Daily we hear of more visits from animal control agencies based on complaints from neighbors, other breeders, even passers-by (and sometimes, people who have never been to our places!).
What can be done? How will we continue to raise and love our rabbits and cavies with more legislation aimed at eliminating breeding of all kinds? Laws which enable animal agencies to confiscate our animals and immediately charge us huge up-front amounts to retain title until we are proven innocent in a court of law?
There are three main groups working on the rabbit end of things: ARBA, the Rabbit Industry Council (RIC), and the Rabbit Education Society (RES). Other groups, such as the Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council (PIJAC), the Grange, and the Farm Bureau, are also working to deflect the impact of such legislation upon animal trade and enterprise of all kinds.
Despite this, there was a recent case in Colorado where a breeder’s establishment was entered and the animals immediately confiscated in defiance of all apparently applicable state and local laws. Due to this incident, a Responsible Animal Owner Legal Defense Trust* was established,
and I recommend you donate to it...it might just be there for you, one day.
(Note: the status of this trust is unknown at this time--7-2013. If you have an update, please contact me as above!)
Do you know your local laws? State laws? How about your county’s ordinances regarding rabbits as food, or pets, or both?
When was the last time you walked out your driveway, turned around, and played Animal Control or Code Enforcement Officer? I’m serious! Do it one day every few months, and pretend that you are the hardest-nosed inspection officer on the entire planet. Take a notebook and pen, and do this:
Stand in front of your property, as if you were a passerby. What do you see? What do you smell? Hear? Write down every negative thing you see, smell, or hear, and BE HONEST WITH YOURSELF. This isn’t for the record, this is for your information so you can fix the issues most likely to cause you problems should an inspector appear.
Walk to your gate or front door, just as an inspector would. Observe. Are your plants reasonably tidy? Toys and equipment visible or put away? Any fire hazards or trash lying around? What about visible animals, like your dogs? Good health makes a nice first impression, as does tidiness.
Once at the door or gate, proceed around the house and barn completely. Give it a score on how tidy it is (or not!), and make notes about things like trash, clutter, equipment storage, mud, overall impression, smell, sight, and hearing. Don’t fool yourself; you are THE INSPECTOR and it has to be PERFECT! (Seriously. Some people are like that, and it’s a lot better to be
safe than sorry on this stuff.)
Evaluate EVERYTHING. Footing. Paint on the buildings. Trimming of the trees. Make note of things that you find frustrating day to day that might be fixed to make life easier. Doesn’t matter if it’s likely to happen, just write it down.
Now enter the rabbit area. How does it look? Is it tidy? Cages clean and clear of things like corner piles, fur mats, old hay, chewed-to-death toys?
Any dead stock? Are all the feeders clean, filled as required by the rabbit, and waterers sparkling clean and full? Again, think like an inspector who's just ITCHING to find things wrong. One of the things in Indiana cited was 'black water'; 'feces in water'; 'empty dishes'. So if you have a rabbit who fouls their food/water or dumps it regularly, it's time to find another way or tie that dish down!
Are cages marked clearly with who’s in them? How can you make it better? It’s recommended that you mark rabbits with known health issues, perhaps with a card that gives the basics of what’s going on, what’s been done, and what’s planned to fix the problem.
An example might be: A rex with sore hocks. You’ve put a resting board in and it was last cleaned two days before, and is due again tomorrow. The card might read something like: SHRBCx3d (Sore Hocks, Resting Board, Clean every 3 days). You know what it means, and unless a real inspector sees the problem, there’s no need to explain....but if your inspector *does* catch the problem, you can show that you know, you are doing something about it, and there’s a plan for treatment.
Same goes for medications. Have a specific card, have the dose and schedule marked, and checkboxes for done doses if multiples are required. Colors work well to differentiate various cards.
Back to cages and appearance, now...how many spiderwebs are up in the cage corners? Along the ceiling, or on the fans? Are the fans, if any, clear of fur, hay, and dust? Are the feeders clean and water dishes/bottles/nozzles clean and dispensing cool clean water easily? In winter, what are you doing for water, and how often? In summer, what about cooling?
Under the cages, you must make sure that there are no rabbits with any direct contact with fecal material. In the case in Colorado, fecal matter under the cages in the trays was cited as being a sign that the cages were filthy! Yet there was no contact between rabbit and fecal material. So how clean can you keep it? Are you keeping it clean, or just clean enough? Is it reasonable to expect better? Remember, you are THE INSPECTOR. Nitpick!
How do you deal with your manure? With odor? Check what you do, and find ways to improve if you can. Pest control, vermin prevention, all of these are important things to take into account as you go through.
Remember...write it ALL DOWN, so you can go back over it and work on the problem areas. Dead animal management is a major issue when an inspector comes with a warrant to see everything, including your freezer, for instance. To them, a dead animal there is a sign of something very wrong, not of proper storage for later use or disposal! Double bag or wrap every dead animal that you opt to freeze, and clearly mark it for its destination: ZOO FOOD. DOG FOOD. HUMAN CONSUMPTION. CREMATION.
Don’t forget the date–and make a note somewhere of why it died (died-heat, died-cold, euthanized, etc.) so that in case of need, you can show your records to the court proving that the animal died of thus-and-such, and was destined to be disposed of as whatever.
Make sure you know your laws and regulations! Your methods of euthanasia need to be as humane as possible, reliable, swift, and safe to use. Be prepared to prove it at any time...because in today’s climate, you may have to.
The upshot? KEEP A GOOD RECORD OF ABSOLUTELY EVERYTHING. I heard that ‘yeah, right!’ from the back bleachers! It’s possible. Do the best you can, and strive to improve as much as you can. The MOST important thing is that the animals are healthy, well-kept, and loved.
What else? KNOW THYSELF AND WORK TO FIX PROBLEMS BEFORE YOU NEED TO! Be proactive about problem areas. Take the time to get the spiderwebs down, to clean the fans, to wipe down the feeders and label them. Don't forget to get all the hay, urine, and so forth off the outsides of the cages, too. Make the time to get everything really, really CLEAN and RGANIZED once or twice a year. Maybe even more.
I know it sounds totally overwhelming, and believe me, when you see that first list, you won't believe how much there is to do! But it is absolutely worth bringing your place up to snuff regularly--and the joy you can take in knowing that you are truly doing the best you possibly can by your animals is just the trick for those blue days when everything seems to be going wrong.
It’s a whole lot more fun to do rabbits and cavies when the place is something you can truly be proud of, no matter who’s doing the looking. You should be proud of being a responsible animal owner!