The RSPCA have five shops in their Manchester and Salford catchment area and a mini adoption centre inside Stockport Pets at home where welfare events are run.
From decorating shops, promoting events and raising awareness of the campaign and educating new rabbit owners in rescue centres, we asked Branch Manager, Susie Hughes, to share her tips on how other shops and rescues can get involved in Rabbit Awareness Week, too.
Susie notes that some of the best ways to promote Rabbit Awareness Week are by creating eye-catching displays that demand attention. In the run-up to and following the Easter period, shops are able pick up a lot of reduced price, bunny-themed items. These can be used alongside the official RAW collateral on the website to promote the campaign in a fun and engaging way.
Last year, the RSPCA did a ‘Bunny Takeover’ day on Instagram, creating bunny profiles in the style of a dating profile and framing them like a polaroid picture! There are lots of ways to get creative with a RAW campaign, and it’s all about finding the ones that work best for your shop or rescue – whether that’s offline or online.
“Visuals make all the difference. For our own branch material, we took pictures of bunnies next to a pile of hay so people can make the association that rabbits need to eat their own body size in hay every day. Another idea is using an egg cup to demonstrate the amount of dry food that should be given.”
Susie’s top tips for a successful Rabbit Awareness Week
Promoting rabbit welfare at pet events is really important, and last year, the Leicester, Manchester and Salford branches gathered at PetFest to promote the importance of feeding hay in rabbits’ diets. They bought a variety of different hays ranging from cheap, inexpensive bedding hay, which should only be used for sleeping to expensive timothy hay and displayed them in different boxes.
This helped highlight the different types of hay available to rabbit owners and demonstrated the different levels of quality to help people understand why some bunnies might choose to avoid eating certain hays – they are fussy eaters after all! This year’s campaign will also focus on the importance provision of high-quality feeding hay in a rabbit’s diet.
Susie has been involved in rabbit rehoming and welfare promotion for over 20 years and says we’ve come a long way since then – but there’s still plenty of work to do! A turning point has been the publication of peer-reviewed research in numerous journals highlighting the dangers of feeding muesli, and whilst RAW has been instrumental in spreading the message, Susie notes it’s important for everyone involved in pet care to keep promoting rabbit care.
“Some years ago, we made a human hutch and put it in one of our shop windows on a busy high street. I spent the day dressed in a rabbit suit holding up different signs saying ‘a hutch is not enough’. It got people talking, which is the point. Even things as simple as a poster or small display in a shop window can make a huge difference if they get people talking about the big issues facing rabbits.”