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Dozens of rabbits abandoned in Eastbrookend Country Park

PUBLISHED: 11:03 06 August 2018 | UPDATED: 11:04 06 August 2018

Some of the rescued rabbits, which have since been given a new home and health checks.

Some of the rescued rabbits, which have since been given a new home and health checks.

Archant

Dozens of rabbits have been abandoned in Eastbrookend Country Park.

On the evening of Sunday, July 29, a dog walker discovered around two dozen rabbits on the 230 footpath in Upper Rainham Road towards Dagenham.

He contacted Scruffy’s Angels, a lost and found group which covers Dagenham and Romford.

“There was a report at 9.40pm from a gentleman walking his dog,” said Tina Chadwick, a volunteer from the group.

“Later on, there was another report of more rabbits down the lane towards the Eastminster School of Riding.

“The walker managed to secure about five, then he went back and caught another.”

Twelve Scruffy’s volunteers went to both locations to search. On Monday they returned with 30 helpers, including volunteers from Pets at Home in Romford, but didn’t find any rabbits.

They also heard reports that Sunday’s rescues were showing signs of myxomatosis, a human-bred disease introduced in the sixties to control the wild rabbit population.

“It’s the most vile disease,” Tina said.

“They get bulging eyes, bulging genitals and pus comes from their mouth.”

Domestic rabbits should be vaccinated against myxomatosis once a year. Tina believes these were Netherland Dwarf rabbits, which would have been bred on purpose.

“I think these rabbits were bred, for what reason I don’t know, and I don’t believe they were vaccinated,” she said.

“A lady who took some of the rabbits went to the vet, who told her they’d not been neutered either.”

Tina, who’s been volunteering at Scruffy’s since 2016, said she’s never been involved in such a large-scale rescue mission for rabbits.

“We’ve had lost and found rabbits but nothing like this,” she said.

“We have it more often with cats – people abandon them because they don’t neuter or spay them and they end up pregnant.”

If anyone finds a rabbit, they should take them to the vet immediately. Tina said they won’t survive in the wild.

“The wild rabbit population will fight to the death,” she warned.

“They’ll either be hunted by predators or they will succumb to myxomatosis.”

Vets have checked the rescued rabbits, and despite earlier fears, none have been found to have myxomatosis, although there is an incubation period of up to two weeks.

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