TAMPA — A ban on retail gross sales of pet rabbits might be hopping into Hillsborough County.
Hillsborough County commissioners agreed unanimously Sept. 21 with Commissioner Pat Kemp to acquire related ordinances from different Florida locales “that we will 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 will observe the county ordinance governing retail gross sales of dogs and cats. A proposed ordinance additionally may comprise an exclusion for legit agricultural functions.
The fee sentiment got here after 4 individuals, talking throughout the public remark portion of the assembly, requested for the ban. Later, information from the county’s Pet Useful resource Heart indicated an earlier public training 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 remedy the issue,” stated commissioner chairperson Kimberly Overman.
The county training marketing campaign, geared toward stores, tried to discourage clients from making impulse buys of rabbits throughout the Easter season. Nonetheless, the Humane Society took in 155 rabbits throughout 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 typically accompanies pet rabbit purchases. The lovable, fuzzy fur balls develop into animals requiring important cleansing due to their waste output. Additionally they have an urge for food for almost something chewable together with rubber, plastics, clothes, wooden and electrical wires.
It results in house owners surrendering animals to shelters or just releasing them outdoor.
A bunch of grassroots animal advocates have been asking the county to ban retail gross sales of rabbits — no less than close to the Easter vacation season — since final 12 months. The county, nevertheless, opted for a public training marketing campaign as a substitute.
However commissioners stated they’re prepared to contemplate stronger measures.
“So long as it doesn’t intervene with agriculture manufacturing in our group, I feel it could be clever to direct the prohibition of retail pet manufacturing,” stated Overman.
“I feel that is the suitable path,” agreed Commissioner Ken Hagan who beforehand advocated for laws on retail gross sales of dogs and cats.
Pasco County authorized 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