RSPCA South Australia wants people to think twice before taking ownership of long-coated animals that require regular grooming.
This comes after a Seaford woman faced the Christies Beach Magistrates Court last week on charges relating to the extreme neglect of her one year old Angora cross rabbit.
The defendant was fined $100 and prevented from owning any other animals for one year, apart for a dog and a cat. She was also ordered to pay $5757 as compensation to RSPCA for legal, vet and shelter fees.
The female rabbit was seized by an RSPCA SA Inspector on 25 October 2017 after it was discovered with fur so matted its hind legs were bound together.
The severely underweight animal had to be fully shorn and its badly overgrown and distorted claws clipped. Once shorn, RSPCA SA’s veterinary team discovered and treated a small, open wound caused by its excessively matted coat.
According to RSPCA SA vet nurse Diandra Sferruzzi, Angora rabbits require daily brushing to keep the coat free from matting. Some rabbits also need regular clipping to prevent matted fur.
“People fall in love with these soft fluffy animals without taking into account the time required to ensure their coats are kept in good condition.
“We have too many dogs, cats and rabbits coming in with their long fur totally matted – grooming has obviously not been considered a priority in any way.
“A severely matted coat, such as this poor rabbit had, can cause a multitude of health problems like skin infections, abscesses, skin wounds and severe discomfort for the animal.
“To allow an animal to have fur so matted its legs are bound together and it cannot even walk properly is an appalling situation.”
Ms Sferruzzi said RSPCA South Australia’s Lonsdale shelter recently had another two rabbits come in with matted fur and faeces stuck under their tails, preventing them from toileting properly.
“Our staff spent a lot of time brushing, clipping and washing the rabbits only to discover the skin underneath was red raw.
“These rabbits are now on their way to recovery but it has not been without complications, which could have all been avoided if they had been groomed correctly in the first instance.”
The Angora rabbit at the centre of last week’s court result recovered from the neglect and was cared for by RSPCA SA’s Lonsdale shelter staff for nine months.
She sadly had to be euthanased in August this year due to aggressive cancer in the form of mammary tumours. (Mammary tumours are not uncommon in female rabbits.)
RSPCA South Australia is the state’s only animal welfare charity empowered to prosecute animal cruelty under SA’s Animal Welfare Act. If you see animal cruelty or neglect, please immediately call our 24-hour hotline on 1300 4 777 22. Learn more here.