After sympathetic local coverage by local television news stations, Nevada Capitol Police opened an investigation into the deaths of abandoned “Dumpsite bunnies” at the Floyd Lamb facility on the state West Charleston Campus,which lies within Las Vegas city limits. While preliminary autopsy results indicated the application of blunt force trauma resulted in cracked ribs and internal bleeding, toxicology results are not likely available for two to three more weeks.
While the state Department of Health asserts it is reaching out to the rabbit rescues involved, nothing substantive has yet emerged.
As an attorney who has witnessed the rise of animal rights law from a distance for the past decade, I suspect the case, if ever litigated, would advance the legal status of the domestic rabbit as a pet: the rabbit is, after all, the third most popular pet in the U.S., after dogs and cats respectively.
While I have in no way made a comprehensive study of the law as it pertains to rabbits, the historic situation of the rabbit as a herd animal relied on as a food resource in economic downturns means the rabbit is classified as “livestock” in some places. Further, under Federal law, rabbits are, to my knowledge, the only mammal classed as “poultry” for purposes of permitting the degree of cruelty and suffering in their slaughter. Classing a mammal with avids makes no particular sense to me. I hope someday the law will require a higher level of care in commercial uses.