TAMPA — A ban on retail gross sales of pet rabbits could possibly be hopping into Hillsborough County.
Hillsborough County commissioners agreed unanimously Wednesday with Commissioner Pat Kemp to acquire comparable ordinances from different Florida locales “that we are able to use to manage rabbit gross sales.”
New guidelines may embrace banning the retail sale of rabbits except the animals are sterilized and are available from a shelter or rescue group. That might comply with the county ordinance governing retail gross sales of dogs and cats. A proposed ordinance additionally may include an exclusion for respectable agricultural functions.
The fee sentiment got here after 4 folks, talking through the public remark portion of the assembly, requested for the ban. Later, knowledge from the county’s Pet Useful resource Middle indicated an earlier public schooling marketing campaign had not diminished the variety of rabbits surrendered to the Humane Society of Tampa Bay.
The county additionally shared that 69% of outlets reported gross sales of rabbits equal to or exceeding their 2021 numbers.
“It seems that instructional consciousness program assisted, however didn’t resolve the issue,” mentioned commissioner chairperson Kimberly Overman.
The county schooling marketing campaign, aimed toward stores, tried to discourage clients from making impulse buys of rabbits through the Easter season. Nonetheless, the Humane Society took in 155 rabbits through the first six months of this 12 months and turned away 54 extra. It expects to soak up 300 rabbits this 12 months, up from 264 in 2021.
Taking surrenders and fostering the animals falls to nonprofits or volunteers as a result of government-run shelters within the Tampa Bay space don’t settle for rabbits.
The dilemma is purchaser’s regret that generally accompanies pet rabbit purchases. The lovable, fuzzy fur balls develop into animals requiring vital cleansing due to their waste output. In addition they have an urge for food for practically something chewable together with rubber, plastics, clothes, wooden and electrical wires.
It results in homeowners surrendering animals to shelters or just releasing them outdoor.
A gaggle of grassroots animal advocates have been asking the county to ban retail gross sales of rabbits — at the very least close to the Easter vacation season — since final 12 months. The county, nonetheless, opted for a public schooling marketing campaign as an alternative.
However commissioners mentioned Wednesday they’re prepared to contemplate stronger measures.
“So long as it doesn’t intervene with agriculture manufacturing in our neighborhood, I believe it will be sensible to direct the prohibition of retail pet manufacturing,” mentioned Overman.
“I believe that is the proper course,” agreed Commissioner Ken Hagan who beforehand advocated for rules on retail gross sales of dogs and cats.
Pasco County authorised guidelines governing rabbit gross sales earlier this 12 months. DeSoto and Orange counties and the town of Key West are among the many different jurisdictions prohibiting retail gross sales of rabbits.