Rabbit Fostering Procedures
Purpose of Foster Care
The intention is to use foster homes where rabbits require intensive care for health or behavioural reasons, where there is an emergency intake or when we have a litter of young rabbits who would otherwise be at the sanctuary for a prolonged period before rehoming.
Becoming a Foster Carer
In order to become a foster carer you need to meet the following criteria:
- Be/have been an experienced rabbit owner
- Have a spare indoor room away from any of your own pets (if applicable)
- Have your own rabbits vaccinated against both Myxomatosis and VHD (strains 1 & 2)
- Be within 30 miles or minutes’ drive of the sanctuary or our current vets
- Be able to collect rabbits from the SAA at the start of the placement and return them at the end
- Be able to travel to/from the vets for routine and emergency appointments (your own transport is essential – we do not allow animals to be taken on public transport)
- Be able to give foster rabbits at least 4 hours exercise outside of their cage a day
If you meet the above criteria you will need to fill out a rabbit fostering application form. Once we receive this application form you will be contacted to discuss in further detail, if you are suitable a member of animal care will arrange to conduct a home visit. This is to have discussion in greater depth answering any questions you may have and to assess your facilities and experience.
Allocation of Rabbits to Foster Homes
Decisions to allocate rabbits to foster homes on our approved list will be made by the Animal Care Staff. Eligible rabbits will be allocated to foster care based on decisions made between animal care staff and fosterer’s about the individual Rabbit’s needs and fosterer’s facilities and experience. When a rabbit(s) needs to be placed in foster care the fosterer will be contacted, and asked if they can take the rabbit on at that time. If they can assist they will be given, if possible, an indication of the planned duration of foster placement.
Equipment and Supplies
The SAA will provide basic equipment, including a carrier, indoor cage, litter tray, hay, bowls, food and full vet care. Fosterers should not mix equipment between their existing rabbits and our rabbits. The equipment provided is to be used for SAA rabbits only and unless a new rabbit is to be placed there in the near future the equipment should be returned to the SAA. Fosterers are responsible for visiting the sanctuary to obtain additional supplies as needed, with prior notice by telephone to ensure the items are available. Foster carers need to provide daily vegetables, regular updates and prior notice of any holidays so alternative foster arrangements can be made.
It is the foster carers responsibility to provide greens for SAA foster rabbits. Please stick to the list below in order to reduce stress. You are not expected to provide every item but please do not feed any items not on this list.
- Spring greens
- Carrot tops
- Small amounts of carrot (due to high sugar content)
- Broccoli (small florets so as not to cause wind and bloat)
- Herbs (parsley, coriander, mint)
- Raspberry/strawberry leaves
Quarantine and Mixing with Other Animals/Children
Rabbits placed in foster homes will not be permitted to mix with any of the foster carer’s own pets or any children, whether they are the fosterer’s own children or visiting children. Fosterers therefore need to have a separate space where the foster rabbit(s) can be adequately housed and isolated; this will be agreed at the assessment visit. Other rabbits in the home must be fully vaccinated; proof of vaccination will be asked for at the assessment visit. It is recommended that foster carers have clothing specifically for use with their foster rabbits – i.e. shoes and over shirt. All of these measures are intended to protect both SAA rabbits and fosterers own pets.
Preventative Health Care
Where possible rabbits will have seen the vet and started their vaccinations prior to entering foster care. If this is not possible due to age, emergency situations or rabbit health problems the fosterer will be asked to take the rabbit(s) to our current vets, or arrange for a member of staff to collect the rabbit from the foster home, take them to the vets and bring them back.
If a rabbit is on medication whilst in foster it is the fosterers responsibility to administer this.
If a foster carer has any concerns about the rabbit(s) in there care the first step is to contact the animal care staff. If they cannot be contacted the next point of contact is the general manager. They will advise you on the situation and what to do next. Animals may only be taken to our current vets, or their appointed out of hours service, for treatment. We will advise on whether and when treatment is necessary and contact the vet. In emergency situations and outside SAA hours (8:30 to 5:30) the foster carer will be responsible for transporting the animal to the vets.
If you are unable to contact the animal care staff or manager you may make contact directly with the vets, but only if you are unable to contact someone at the SAA first.
Full contact details and opening hours will be given upon satisfactory home assessment visit.
Rabbits placed in foster care will be returned to the sanctuary at the appropriate time for rehoming. Fosterers are responsible for transporting the rabbit back to the SAA where possible. This protects the fosterers from the intrusion into their home of strangers and the potential health and safety associated with this. If a friend or family member expresses an interest in adopting a rabbit the fosterer must contact the SAA to discuss this and provide their contact details. A home check will then be carried out in line with our usual adoption procedures, the adopter would have to visit the sanctuary to complete the paperwork and pay the adoption fee.
What if things go wrong?
If you experience difficulties with a rabbit(s) we have placed with you, please contact the SAA for advice. If there is a reason why a rabbit(s) cannot remain in the foster home, alternative arrangements will be made as quickly as possible.
Use of contact Numbers
The mobile phones numbers provided are for your use only, in relation to fostering. Please do not give these
numbers to anyone else (other than the vets) and think before calling during evenings, the use of these
numbers at evening should be limited to emergencies only.