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Investigation launched after abandoned bunnies rescued from woodland by kind-hearted locals

Three of the rabbits that were found in Wards, Elgin.
Three of the rabbits that were found in Wards, Elgin.

Seven adorable domestic rabbits have been rounded-up by members of the public after being abandoned in a woodland.

Rachael Horsburgh went out to help the bunnies after a man came to her parents’ home asking if they had any pets that had escaped.

He had spotted some hopping around the path near The Wards in Elgin on Sunday, and began trying to find their owners.

Miss Horsburgh’s brother went to look and spotted one white rabbit and two gingers.

Together, the siblings managed to catch one rabbit but had to give up as it began to get dark. Desperate to keep the others safe, Miss Horsburgh took to Facebook to get some advice on catching them.

She was flooded with advice and offers to help, and said many people were angry that the animals had simply been abandoned.

“I know a lot of people were angry that someone would release them, and so many rabbits as well,” she said. “My only concern was the rabbits and their wellbeing.

“We only caught one on Sunday night and I barely slept that night out of fear of what might happen to them.”

Rounding-up the rabbits

The next day, six people – including one who travelled from Lhanbryde – turned up to help Miss Horsburgh round up the bunnies using long nets.

Another woman contacted her to let her know that she and her partner had managed to catch one of the rabbits early that morning and had handed it over to Wards Vets.

At first Miss Horsburgh believed there was only one more bunny on the loose after capturing four, but then she discovered three more.

The rabbits were curious but wary of being touched.

She said: “I had brought food and kept talking and singing to them to get close, which they were quite fine with until you went to touch them, then they got spooked.

“That’s why the nets were so good because they would let us get in netting range.”

The rabbits made themselves at home in Miss Horsburgh’s garden studio after being rescued. Supplied by Rachael Horsburgh.

The group managed to navigate the thick bushes of ivy, holly and nettles to round up the remaining three rabbits.

Miss Horsburgh then handed the rabbits over to the Scottish SPCA and is hopeful they will manage to find out who released them.

She described feeling both “happy and sad” because she had grown attached to them in the short space of time.

One of the rabbits relaxing on a chair in Miss Horsburgh’s garden studio. Supplied by Rachael Horsburgh.

“I think crawling on your stomach through nettles with a rabbit in your arms built a bond,” she added. “I hope that they all get adopted into lovely forever homes, I know I keep checking the Scottish SPCA website incase they pop up.

“Rabbits are lovely animals to have as pets and the Scottish SPCA have a large collection currently up for adoption, so I suggest anyone looking for a new furry best friend consider adopting.”

Investigation into their abandonment

After being checked over by the vets the rabbits were found to be covered in ticks.

One of the rabbits had a badly broken leg and sadly had to be put to sleep.

While the investigation into their abandonment continues the rabbits will stay at the Scottish SPCA centre.

The female rabbits now in the Scottish SPCA centre after being treated for ticks. Supplied by Scottish SPCA.

Senior inspector Lesley Crockett said: “It’s unusual to come across this number of stray rabbits and we believe they may be a male and female pair and their adolescent young.

“Although there are wild rabbits living in Scotland, these rabbits are domesticated animals and would not have survived the elements and predators in the wild.

“We appreciate that the person who left the rabbits may have intended for the animals to be found but this is not the right way to give up an animal if you can no longer care for them.”

Anyone with information should call the Scottish SPCA’s confidential helpline on 03000 999 999.

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