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Richmond rabbits may head south

Richmond has a bounty of bunnies. - Matthew Hoekstra photo
Richmond has a bounty of bunnies.
— image credit: Matthew Hoekstra photo

Some of the hundreds of feral rabbits currently calling the Richmond Auto Mall home, may just be heading south for the winter.

The auto mall has reached a partnership agreement with Precious Life Animal Sanctuary in Sequim, Wash., said Gail Terry, general manager of the Richmond Auto Mall Association.

“We hope that we’ll have permission within four weeks or so,” Terry said, adding she’s “pretty confident” approval is coming.

The American sanctuary has agreed to host a colony of Richmond rabbits, and the mall has offered to help support the bunnies financially for the next five years. The same sanctuary already hosts another colony of rabbits rescued from the University of Victoria in 2010/11.

The deal to export the rabbits is still subject to provincial government approval. The current laws make it illegal to trap and possess rabbits without a permit, although trapping them and killing them is legal. But publicly-stated government policy does allow for rabbits to be trapped if they are going to be exported out of the country, Terry said.

Sending the rabbits south isn’t the best option, she said, but it’s one currently available to them.

A proposal to build a local sanctuary hasn’t thus far received support from the province, she said.

In the meantime, the auto mall has applied for a permit along with Rabbitats, a rescue group responsible for gathering the University of Victoria feral rabbits.

Precisely how many rabbits will be wintering in the U.S. depends on public support.

The rabbits all need to be spayed or neutered and transported to the U.S. Some additional construction will also be needed at the American sanctuary.

The auto mall association has agreed to match whatever public funds are raised toward the rabbit relocation.

There are roughly 300 rabbits on the grounds surrounding the Richmond Auto Mall, living in the hedges and on the lawns around the vehicle dealerships. Many are being killed by cars and predators.

Donors and volunteers wishing to help the cause are urged to call the Bunny Hopline at 604-273-3243 or e-mail we-care@richmondautomall.com, or Rabbitats at rabbitats@gmail.com.

Donations can also be made directly to the Precious Life Animal Sanctuary at www.preciouslifeanimalsanctuary.org/help.php. Donors are asked to indicate the donation is for Richmond Rabbits, and to send an e-mail to the auto mall or Rabbitats to ensure their funds will be matched.

Two Rabbitats fundraisers are being held this weekend.

On Saturday, Nov. 17, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., the mall is hosting a garage sale. Donations of bottles, pennies, crafts and cash are welcome, with all proceeds going to rescued rabbits.

Then on Sunday, Nov. 18, from noon the 3 p.m., the mall is hosting Hoppy Hour, where the public is encouraged to “bring your own bunny” for some play time. All rabbits must be spayed/neutered and healthy. Admission is by donation.

Richmond Auto Mall is located at 13100 Smallwood Pl.

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