PermaLink I'm at it again...11/14/2008 02:12 PM
Causing trouble where there's none to be caused.  It's what I do.

Nora and I got a terse little notification that we were now banned from BunSpace.

To give you some background, BunSpace is, for lack of a better term, MySpace for wabbits. The idea is, your wabbit has a profile, other wabbits can "leave comments" for your wabbits, you can post pictures, all that sort of stuff. I thought it was an OK idea, figuring that it would be a place for rabbit owners to hang out and talk about... rabbit stuff.

Well, some people seem to take it a little too far. It's not the owners talking, it's the owners anthropomorphizing comments under their rabbits' names. After a few too many comments like, "I really like your fur, perhaps my human will let me share a carrot with you sometime," I kinda lost interest.

Nora took over the "presence" of our wabbits. However, at some point a few days ago she made a comment about Sam and Suzette getting together and we were looking forward to kits in December. Boom! Instant ban-hammer.

Why? Because unfortunately, BunSpace, as well as a number of other rabbit-related sites, are controlled by people with a limited understanding of the world of rabbits. They tend to be members of the House Rabbit Society and refuse to have anything to do with rabbit breeders, pet stores, or even 4-H kids who raise rabbits.

Since we mentioned getting Sam and Suzette together, that was an instant banination, since apparently "breeders, 4-H'ers, and others like them" are persona non grata and refusing to allow them to interact with HRS types is "the only way we can deal with those sorts of people."

I should point out that I am a member of the House Rabbit Society. I even have a license plate surround on the Volkswagen attesting to it. Nora has been a member for years. However, I am also a member of the American Rabbit Breeders Association and the National Federation of Flemish Giant Rabbit Breeders. Our fledgling rabbitry is the only ARBA-registered Flemish rabbitry in Maryland. We are adamant that we will not be selling "Easter bunnies" or meat rabbits, and if anyone adopts one of our Flemish, they are obligated to bring it back to us, not drop it off at some shelter.

See, the HRS fanatics are certain that every rabbit that isn't absolutely fawned all over and permitted to chew on the furniture is somehow being "abused" and must be "rescued." HRS people have been involved in campaigns of complaints against ARBA and NFFGRB breeders and have browbeaten animal control people into harassing breeders and in some case taking perfectly healthy show animals.

There are numerous problems with all this. HRS and its acolytes seem to want every rabbit to be adopted from a shelter. Where, exactly, do they think their next rabbit would come from if there were no rabbit breeders? Where, exactly, do they think disease-resistant rabbits with strong bones and good health are going to come from, if not from breeders? Who has a financial incentive to assist in promoting better feed, better equipment, better medicine and better veterinary practices except breeders?

In some ways it's as if HRS wants a population of indistinct mixed breeds, and it's somehow completely unacceptable that anyone breed rabbits for good qualities.

Worse, the HRS people tend to have the ears of veterinarians, and so we have a significant population of vets who automatically view anyone doing breeding or showing as bad. We've had snide comments from our own vet, for example, a guy in a suburban practice who almost certainly sees a lot more house rabbits than show rabbits. Our other vet, located in a more rural area and more used to dealing with farm people, has no such snide comments.

Then again, that first vet also thinks we have "too many cats." Yeah, well, eat me. They're there, deal with it.

Sure, there are lots of instances where rabbits have come to harm in the hands of dumbasses. Stupid parents buy a "cute little bunny" for their brat at Easter, and by summer vacation the brat is sick of the rabbit, who has now grown up and become a biter because it's their only defense against grubby fingers poked into its hutch. Rather than kick the brat's ass, zip! The rabbit gets dropped off at a shelter or just let out in the wild along a road somewhere to "eat grass."

Personally, I wanna let Sam bite those morons' nutsacks. Hard.

Hence, our rule, "no Easter bunnies." We're actually considering an "adults or teenagers only" rule just for that reason. And a signed agreement warning people up front that hey, at certain ages, wabbits can be a pain in the ass, you are going to acknowledge this now or you are going home without a wabbit.

And the meat thing. I just don't see rabbits as a food source. Yes, other people do. They are welcome to buy meat rabbits from other breeders, or in the freezer section of their local supermarket. But there will be a "no meat rabbit" clause in the agreement. People have the option of eating rabbit, but not our rabbits.

But HRS just goes off the deep end on this. I think a much better focus to their efforts would be encouraging people not to breed humans, since it's the humans that do the stupid shit to rabbits, not the other way around. Harassing legitimate breeders, many of whom have had rabbits as pets much longer than the HRS has existed, serves only to antagonize and polarize the community. HRS members convince each other that all breeders are evil, and ARBA members convince themselves that all HRS members are nutjobs.

There was a time this fall where Nora and I felt we could stand in the abyss and attempt to bridge the two worlds... let our fellow breeders see that we, as HRS members, were not going to spy on them, that we were breeders, too, and had the same interest in improving the breeds that they have, and let HRS members see a rabbitry with high ethical standards who would not allow rabbits to fall into situations where they'd have to be "rescued." This most recent thing with BunSpace has discouraged us from thinking that's possible, and not because of the actions of breeders, who we've known to be almost universally dedicated, of high integrity and very friendly and helpful people. Nope, the HRS fanatics brought this on themselves, at least in this small instance.

As it happens, there are other rabbit owners who have a healthy skepticism about HRS. This person has an amusing take on all this.

But there are way too many glassy-eyed fanatics. If they had their way, the domestic rabbit would die out in this generation.

Then I guess they'd move on to iguanas.

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