A total of 202 rabbits have been handed over to animal rights activists after a farm closed its doors for good.
The owner of Nottinghamshire-based T&S Rabbits, which bred and sold the animals for meat, said that he closed the farm following repeated protests and alleged vandalization of his property.
Phillip Kerry came under fire after activists claimed he was using a legal loophole to breed rabbits for their fur. The BBC reports that the farm’s website was advertising fur products, including £275 handbags, in March of this year.
Kerry claimed, however, that his business was legal and there were never any sales of these products.
Under British law, it is an offense to keep animals solely or primarily for slaughter for their fur. It is, however, permissible to sell fur as a byproduct if breeding animals for meat.
Anne Wright, who also worked at T&S Rabbits, claimed that the farm wasn’t involved in selling the fur and that it was “up to the butcher” to do so.
Campaign group Shut Down T&S Rabbits told Plant Based News that rabbits were being kept in “small, dirty runs” and had the “bare minimum care taken by those supposedly in charge of their welfare.”
Investigators also found that dead rabbits were kept in a freezer and eventually sold off to a maggot farm to be used by a fishing bait company. Campaigners said that hidden camera footage showed that a farm worker was throwing them in there on daily basis.
The rescue campaign
A number of animal rights organizations came together for the rescue effort, and the 202 animals were picked up from the facility last Saturday (August 20).
Shut Down T&S Rabbits said resistance to the farm has been sprouting for a few years, but the campaign that eventually shut down it down started six months ago.
The group said they employed a range of tactics, such as opposing planning applications, investigations, mass demonstrations, and encouraging mass participation from the animal liberation movement and beyond.
“Although the campaign was inherently vegan, it was the liberation of the rabbits and a victory for the animal rights campaigners which took precedent,” a spokesperson said.
“A number of people who engaged with the campaign, especially locals, are not vegans, but their help went far. The campaign truly is an example of the compassion and determination a movement can be capable of when enough strategy is applied.”
The animals have been distributed to a number of rescue centers. Rabbit Farm Resistance UK, which also worked on the campaign, confirmed on Twitter that the rabbits are being assessed, neutered, and vaccinated before being treated for any ailments. They will then be rehomed in bonded pairs or groups.
Shut Down T&S Rabbits said that the animals will be kept in quarantine for three weeks after their vaccinations. This is to prevent them from spreading disease.
The UK rabbit farming industry
While the UK rabbit farming industry is relatively small, there are still thousands of the animals being reared for their meat throughout the country.
In the wild, rabbits tend to stay in pairs or groups and can run at speeds of up to 45mph. Those in farms, however, will often spend most of their lives in cages, with each afforded an area the size of an A4 sheet of paper.
They will often have their teeth trimmed and clipped, which can cause lasting pain and infection. They may also have their ears tattooed for identification.
Rabbits are generally weaned at around four weeks of age, and slaughtered when they are between eight and 12 weeks.
Some will be stunned and have their throats cut, while others may be killed with a hammer.
You can donate to the T&S Rabbit fund here