SAVED: The Rabbit Rescue Sanctuary runs a foster program in an effort to rehome its surrendered bunnies, many which come from Queensland.
SAVED: The Rabbit Rescue Sanctuary runs a foster program in an effort to rehome its surrendered bunnies, many which come from Queensland. Contributed

QLD's rabbit laws force 'tragic surrender' of pets in NSW

DOZENS of rabbits are rescued by a northern New South Wales sanctuary as a direct result of Queensland's anti-bunny laws, its founder says.

Nestled on a 25-acre property in Grafton, Kim Cooney's Rabbit Rescue Sanctuary is the only facility of its type on the eastern seaboard.

About 45 of the bunnies populating her sanctuary were surrendered or rescued as a direct result of Queensland's law which makes owning a pet rabbit illegal.

"We rescue a lot of abandoned rabbits from Queensland,” she said.

"The fact it's illegal to have a rabbit up there means people have no legitimate way to re-home unwanted rabbits.”

Queensland's RSCPA admits only stray domestic rabbits, which are then shipped to Mrs Cooney's Grafton sanctuary for re-homing.

Mrs Cooney said this often led people to release their pet rabbits into the wild.

"When a Queensland person has the rabbit and discovers that they can't have it, there's nowhere they can take it,” she said.

"The solution for all of this is to contact the rabbit sanctuary.”

Mrs Cooney or volunteers will then collect the pets.

Recent data showed 12,000 people moved from NSW to Queensland last year - with the contradictory rabbit laws facilitating a "tragic situation”.

"People who come up from NSW with a rabbit they have loved for years leave it here because they can't take their pet to Queensland,” Mrs Cooney said. "Some of them are hysterical, they cry and can't stop.”

She tentatively supported Ipswich Councillor David Pahlke's proposal to allow desexed and registered pet rabbits in Queensland, but acknowledged there were "pros and cons”.

"If pet shops are allowed to sell them, there will be more of a welfare issue,” she said.

Mrs Cooney said desexed and registered rabbits should be permitted in Queensland.

Her sanctuary in northern NSW operates on a rehome-only policy, meaning healthy rabbits are never euthanised.

She encouraged Queenslanders harbouring illegal bunnies to contact the sanctuary.

"We will provide the rabbits with safe re-homing,” she said. "We re-home them to indoor homes only - we train them to use a litter tray. If they're no longer wanted, they come back to us.”

Mrs Cooney hoped the law would change so people north of the border could experience the joys of owning a rabbit.

"They're magical little animals,” she said.

For more information, visit rabbitsanctuary.com.au.