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St. Pete City Council considers banning retail sale of rabbits

St. Petersburg already bans the retail sale of cats and dogs.

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Banning bunny sales in St Petersburg. 

This is something the city council will discuss on Thursday, Sept. 14 about whether or not to add rabbits to their list of animals that are banned from retail sales.

The chief operations officer for SPCA Tampa Bay looked at their numbers for rabbit intakes and found every year there are hundreds of them.

"Our numbers for rabbit intakes have been steady at the low to mid 300s each year," Tara Yurkshat said.

Over at the Humane Society of Tampa Bay, it’s a similar story.

"We see hundreds of rabbits every year that come in from owners, surrendered or as strays," Regan Blessinger, marketing and content manager for the Humane Society of Tampa Bay, said.

Blessinger said those at the Tampa Bay Humane Society are all for banning rabbits from retail sales.

"When Hillsborough County did it earlier this year, we were for it then and we’re for it now," Blessinger added.

St. Pete City Council will discuss an ordinance that would ban the retail sale of rabbits starting Jan. 1, 2024. The city already bans the retail sale of cats and dogs.

"We are definitely pro it because that will slow the rate of the rabbits we see in the shelters," Blessinger said.

10 Tampa Bay reached out to a rabbit organization in the Tampa Bay area, the Tampa Bay House Rabbit Rescue

Jack Burke, who is the president and treasurer of the organization, explained he and his team are also in favor of banning the retail sale of rabbits anywhere and everywhere. Burke explained people don’t understand the care these animals need.

"Many parents will get a rabbit for their children, expecting that a 10 or 11-year-old will be able to take care of the bun. Our experience has been that only lasts about two weeks, after which the child neglects the rabbit because it's too much work," he said. "Usually, the parents didn't want the rabbit themselves, so they end up either contacting a rescue or shelter to surrender the bun, or just turn it loose, in which case the rabbit will usually be dead within a few months because it doesn't know how to survive in the wild."

Blessinger said they aren't saying people can't have rabbits as pets, they just don't want people buying them.  

"No one is saying don’t adopt bunnies, but there are shelters that have bunnies," Blessinger added.

If the council passes the ordinance, there will be a public hearing for the ordinance where you can voice your opinion on Sep. 28.

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