I wrote to the SPCA to urge them to investigate some repulsive behaviour by a pet store. What I saw recently was the last straw.
Some background: I am a former bunny guardian who very regretfully purchased animals from the offending store. My (obviously unweaned and underage) 6-inch baby Netherland Dwarf rabbit died within hours and the staff dismissed it as stress from moving. The store claims their rabbits are 2 to 3 months old but it's so obvious they are lying. I got a replacement who died in 3 weeks but not before I took her to the vet and in the process shelled out hundreds to try to save her. The store told me "If this one dies, you're out of luck." It turned out her digestive tract was infected with the contagious deadly coccidia parasite. The vet also said the store told me to feed the wrong hay (timothy), which is meant for weight loss and should not be introduced until the bunny is at least 6 months old, and that I should have fed alfalfa hay. This is downright extortion for animal lovers.
This is part of what I wrote to the SPCA:
"During my visit today, one of the rabbits looked particularly sick and had his or her body frozen in place, perhaps too weak to move (an ignorant shopper remarked, "He's posing.") while its head was stretched and tilted back, gasping for air through the opening-and-closing mouth like a fish out of water, and sneezing occasionally. Its snout and mouth was turning slightly purple. Its eyes and nostrils were crusty with thick whitish discharge as if it had severe bacterial respiratory and eye infections. There was significantly more food in this cage than the cage of the relatively healthy rabbit, indicating this sick rabbit had not been able to eat for some time. I recorded some video and took some photos of both the sick and healthy rabbits while another customer reported the illness to staff. Children and other ignorant shoppers giggled at the seemingly dying rabbit and commented on how cute it was.
The employee responded that the rabbit "might just have a cold" and took it to the backroom. This is either a cruel lie or the employee is not nearly informed enough to be working with animals, because that is scientifically impossible. Rabbits cannot fall ill due to human cold viruses. Due to the structuring of their respiratory systems, rabbits are obligate nasal breathers, and any attempt to breathe through the mouth is an emergency that signifies severe respiratory distress or suffocation and may mean the animal is on the verge of death. I am appalled at the blatantly false explanation of the rabbit's suffering. I do not know how long the rabbit had been on display with these symptoms before I passed by, noticed how sick it was and told other concerned customers to notify employees as I recorded evidence."
I would not be surprised if the rabbit died right after it was taken away. I doubt any vet would be called because that would cut into profits. Absolutely appalling.