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Hillsborough commissioners vote not to ban the sale of rabbits

In a 7-0 vote, commissioners decided to educate the public about rabbit ownership rather than ban their sale.

HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla — Hillsborough County commissioners on Wednesday decided not to go forward with banning the sale of rabbits.

In a 7-0 vote, commissioners chose instead to create an education campaign that teaches the public about the pros and cons of rabbit ownership, and the impact abandoning or surrendering them has on the community. 

According to a staff report from the County Attorney's Office, the issue was first brought to the county's attention by members of the public who were concerned about people impulse buying rabbits during the Easter Holiday.

The attorney's office found that several counties had already enacted ordinances that ban rabbit sales, including Orange County in June 2021. However, the CAO notes that Orange County's ordinance mainly centered around cats and dogs, but rabbits were added toward the end of the discussion.

There are no "traditional" pet stores that sell rabbits in Hillsborough County, according to the staff report. Still, the staff report says the Humane Society of Tampa Bay has received hundreds of rabbit rescues. Those rabbits, the report says, are coming from different regions of the state.