A Victoria-based phenomenon has got politicians on this side of the water thinking about how to deal with Fluffy bunny -- and her many offspring.
Coquitlam council passed a notice of motion Monday that will see staff begin the process of changing the city's bylaws around the sale of rabbits. If Monday's motion gets drafted into law, only rabbits that have been spayed or neutered can be sold in the city.
Originally submitted by Coun. Mae Reid, the motion changed over the course of Monday's debate from a total prohibition on the sale of rabbits to one allowing only the sale of those that are infertile. That change forced Reid to withdraw her support for the motion, although all the other councillors endorsed it.
"I only want the total prohibition or nothing," Reid said.
Her motivation to submit the notice of motion was born out of last month's decision to begin culls at the University of Victoria (UVic), amid concerns that the creatures were decimating the school's sports fields. Varying reports suggest about 2,000 feral rabbits live on the university grounds, and most are the descendants of abandoned pets.
"It's just inhumane," Reid said of the UVic situation. "It's caused a great division among staff and students and it's just a terrible thing."
Reid also pointed to an increase in the rabbit population in Mundy Park about 20 years ago, a phenomenon that was at least partly attributed to rabbit owners abandoning their pets over time.
Mayor Richard Stewart said his family has owned a handful of rabbits, and that while purchasing a rabbit is fairly inexpensive, it's hoped that the added cost of spaying or neutering a rabbit will cause some people to think twice before adopting one.
"They're wonderful pets. They're wonderful family members," he said. "But they aren't the easy pet that a lot of people think they are."
"Right now they're inexpensive pets, but if they have to be neutered first, it increases the price," added Coun. Selina Robinson. "So people will give it a second or third or fourth thought before they actually make that purchase. I'm hopeful that that will actually be reflected in the number of people who choose to purchase rabbits."
Though he too lent his support to the move, Coun. Lou Sekora seemed bewildered by Reid's motion.
"We'll be passing bylaws coming out of the ying yang and have bylaw enforcement officers also chasing all these crazy things ... I think we're really reaching quite far on this one," he said.
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