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The rabbit who inspired her owner to join Richmond Animal Rescue & Care

By Laren Tayyip
January 28 2020, 18.00

The recent death of a rescue rabbit has highlighted importance of animal rescue shelters in the Richmond community.

Missy the rabbit was helped by Twickenham Animal Rescue & Care (ARC) when other rescue homes turned her down after being found in 2011.

In July of that year, ARC trustee Róis was visiting her family in Ireland when her brother-in-law found the rain-soaked rabbit under a car.

A week later she took Missy home to start a new life in the UK.

She said: “Missy was a very special rabbit, we had such a strong bond and she was put to sleep in my arms this week after more than eight years together.

FAMILY A’FUR: Missy and her six bunnies at ARC

“She was the gentlest, humblest, and most connected to me bunny that I have ever had the privilege to meet. She was also a practical, determined and tough little lady who knew her own mind and took no nonsense.”

She added: “The people working at ARC were so good to me, it was a completely different story when I contacted them asking for help.

“Missy leaves behind a massive paw print in our lives and everyone who met her adored her spirit.”

Missy lead Róis to ARC, who work with rabbits and other small mammals, where she has been volunteering ever since.

It was believed that Missy had escaped from a traveller’s site and had been used as greyhound practice fodder.

It was not clear if Missy was female or male, or if she was a hare or a rabbit, but it was later discovered that due to her brown (rather than yellow) eyes, Missy was a female rabbit after all.

The rabbit was initially diagnosed with cancer and not given long to live but this was later overturned when it was discovered that Missy was in fact pregnant with seven bunnies.

Róis said: “It is entirely thanks to Missy and her children that I am now involved with the world of animal rescue and specifically with ARC who reacted to my situation of trying to rehome a number of babies from an already pregnant rescued mother rabbit so decently.”

She added: “People rehome for all sorts of different reasons and we take animals in from truly horrific and abusive situations but also from loving homes that are not being given up lightly.

“It is not ours or anyone else’s job to judge those making such a difficult decision and we need to get the message out that to support them is the way forward.

“There are so many animals in need of homes so please rescue where you can.”

Buying from a breeder

There has been a long lasting debate between rescuing animals and buying them from pet shops and breeders.

Kennel Club Head of health and welfare Bill Lambert said: “The most important thing for any prospective puppy owner is that they carry out thorough research before choosing a dog, whether that’s through a responsible breeder or a rescue centre.

“The most significant advantage of buying a dog direct from a breeder is that this provides a level of predictability on the dog you will be bringing home.

“Not only will you know what characteristics and temperament your dog is likely to have, you will also be able to predict the simple things like what sort of coat it will have and therefore how much grooming it will need, how big it is likely to get, how much food it is going to need and even how far it will need to walk each day.”

Mr Lambert explained that buying from a breeder provides the new owner with a great level of understanding, enabling them to make a far more informed choice when buying a dog.

GOLDEN HELLOS: Two week old puppies from a Kennel Club breeder

The Kennel Club provides information about general dog welfare and breeder recommendations through its Assured Breeder Scheme.

A spokesperson from the Kennel Club said: “We would always encourage choosing a dog from a Kennel Club Assured Breeder, who will often be experts in the breed that you have chosen and will be able to pass on essential information about your choice of breed.”

ARC was set up by six volunteers in 2001 and has since helped rehome over 6,000 animals including 571 in 2019. To donate or help rehome an animal with ARC please visit: https://animalrescueandcare.org.uk/about-us/

Prospective puppy owners can find out more about buying through an Assured Breeder and finding the right puppy for them by visiting the Kennel Club website: https://www.thekennelclub.org.uk

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