So anyone following House Rabbit Society's Facebook may have noticed that yesterday there was quite an uproar about carnival/fair company based in the South West that gives away live animals (goldfish, parakeets, turtles and rabbits) as "prizes". I don't know if it has helped any as of yet, but their must be hundreds of comments rebuking Frazier Shows for this irresponsible, senseless act (click on the hyperlink to contact and place a complaint). Others have been contacting the New Mexico Humane Society (where Frazier Shows are soon to be having an event) as well as other animal welfare groups. At this point I don't see how we can be ignored.
I had never heard of live animals, other than goldfish, being given away at fairs until last summer. The boyfriend of a good friend of mine lives not to fair from where the Bristol Homecoming is held, so the three of us decided to walk there. On our way there we passed a woman carrying a baby bunny in her arms. I seriously had to do a double take, and Ben (my friends bf), being sarcastic as he is, said "oh ya they're giving bunnies away at the fair" which at the time seemed like a ridiculous statement (he was joking anyway. To our surprise, when we arrived we encountered more fair-goers toting rabbits and soon came across a pen in which a dozen or so rabbits were being kept along with a game (I believe some simple toss game which certainly does not determine a persons ability to properly care for a living thing).
Being that Umbra had recently come into my life, I was becoming quite the rabbit advocate and was so distraught at the idea of these lives being traded so carelessly I was about to use all the cash I had on me to rescue those bunnies! Unfortunately I chickened out because I, as a broke college student living under my mom's roof, had know idea what I would do with all those rabbits and I doubted they'd be any better off with me. Besides that I cared, I really don't have the ability to feed, house and provide medical care for more than a couple buns, but caring doesn't always yield results.
My disgust at this practice has been renewed upon hearing of Frazier Shows, and who knows how many other companies that give away animals too. I just keep thinking back to those people at the Bristol Homecoming who weren't even given a cage to transport their "prize" in, and how terrified those little buns most have been under all the flashing lights, loud music and screaming children. Obviously who ever hosts these games does not care about proper animal husbandry, and I wonder the point of it all. How could giving away live animals be more cost effective than just giving away toys, unless the animals were barely awarded the most meager and basic of needs.
So does anyone really wins in this situation? Obviously the animals are the biggest losers, having their lives treated so haphazardly, and likely to live a miserable life, be abandoned or even die prematurely. Second, do the people who participate and "win" a pet, truly win? Just like the unwanted Easter bunnies, these animals were victim to someones whimsy at the spur of a moment, will the human soon discover that the animal is a burden that they were unprepared for? They didn't realize it at the time, but they've been conditioned to think that rabbits are cheep "starter" pets, when in reality they can be quite burdensome financially (see earlier post "One Pricy Pal"). Last we must look at the companies who exploit these animals. Is this really a better money-making strategy? Whether or not toys are more or less expensive, I don't think that carnivals will lose costumers if they just stuck with giving away giant stuffed teddy bears, people will waste just as much money playing silly games for their girlfriends and kids. I once spent over $20 (at $1 or $2 a game) trying to win a big yellow dolphin (which I technically didn't win, the officiator of the game pitied me and gave me the dolphin at the end of his shift, but not after spending all my money).
So I ask you, my readers, though few there are, to make a big stink whenever you see such atrocious behavior at a fair, call and email everyone you can think of, tell all your friends and family to boycott these venues until justice is found for these innocent creatures.