A bag left inside Adelaide Airport’s female toilets last night caused a security scare, with Australian Federal Police (AFP) calling in the bomb squad to investigate – only to find an abandoned rabbit inside.
The male rabbit was left inside a pink Lorna Jane bag wearing a red harness but no other form of identification. It appears to be unharmed by its ordeal.
AFP officers called RSPCA South Australia’s animal ambulance after discovering the rabbit, with Rescue Officer Nalika Van Loenen bringing him back to RSPCA’s Stepney headquarters for safekeeping in a warm cage overnight.
“This is the first job of this kind that I’ve come across in my 26 years of service with RSPCA,” Rescue Officer Van Loenen said.
“The young male rabbit is clearly very well socialised and cared for. He is even harness trained.
“The police had put him in a large box and gotten some carrots from Subway, so he had some fresh shredded carrot to munch on while they waited for me to arrive.”
AFP Acting State Manager South Australia, Commander Brett McCann said: “This was certainly an unusual situation for the AFP.
“We treat everything in the aviation space very seriously, but our bomb appraisal officers certainly weren’t expecting to find a rabbit in unattended baggage. Thankfully the rabbit is safe and well, and hopefully the owner will be found.”
RSPCA South Australia is now appealing for information from anyone who may know how the Dwarf rabbit, which is about 1 year old, came to be dumped at the airport.
“A couple of scenarios came to mind – his owner could have been leaving the country and knew by leaving their pet in a populated area he would be found and cared for. Or they may have been planning on smuggling him on board a plane, but backed out at the last minute,” Rescue Officer Van Loenen said.
“The pink Lorna Jane bag is very distinctive, so we really hope someone noticed it and saw something.”
Under SA’s Animal Welfare Act, it is illegal to abandon an animal. RSPCA South Australia urges members of the public to show compassion and never dump an animal.
“Rabbits are prey animals so they do get scared and stressed easily. He would have been very frightened,” Rescue Officer Van Loenen said.
“The humane decision would have been to take the rabbit to an animal shelter during opening hours, where there are people who have the knowledge and capacity to take good care of them.”
Anyone with information is urged to call RSPCA South Australia’s 24-hour cruelty report hotline on 1300 4 777 22.