I have written and rewritten the start of this blog post countless times. The story needs to be told but how to do it justice weighs down heavy; the responsibility so great. I feel I must start by saying what a privilege it has been to care for this animal, to have been entrusted with his care and to be thought so capable of doing my/our level best by him. His name is Bobby and his story distressing, the images revolting, but I will not shy away from showing you what the work of the RSPCA involves.
|Bobby on arrival|
Bobby came to the RSPCA Manchester & Salford Branch at around 7 weeks of age. When his condition was described to me over the phone I recoiled, but not half as much as I did in reality when I touched his tiny body for the first time. Bobby had been kept in a 4ft hutch along with his sizeable, and unneutered, mother and father. Predictably mum had conceived once again, soon after giving birth to Bobby. As is the case when a doe is due to give birth she typically attacks the remaining litter to alienate them and protect her new young. But in a 4ft hutch with nowhere to go the injuries inflicted on Bobby were the worst I have ever seen in the 19 years I have been working in animal rescue.
It’s not uncommon to see injuries on the first litter when another is due, and over the years I have commonly seen missing or mutilated ears, injuries to the nose, eyes and bobtail, but never to the extent had I seen on Bobby. The entirety of Bobby’s back can be best described as feeling like a shell, like a tortoise shell. From neck to tail he was one undulating mass of dense, infected scab. The repeated attacks this bunny must have endured defies comprehension, how he was alive seemed nothing but a miracle. He could not use his back legs, but it was unclear whether this was due to the extensive wounding or a birth defect.
As time went on the scab started to raise and as gruesome as this sounds you could see daylight through it as it literally began to lift from his back.
As the scab lifted and dried the infection became more apparent but with air getting to the site it started to improve. It took several days before it came off altogether and then he looked like a burns victim. He looked so raw and sore but the relief the scabbing had gone was immediately evident because within 20 minutes he was standing on his back legs for the first time since he had arrived. I confess I got over excited about this, but it was just an absolute joy to see.
We then gradually gave him more space to play in and he each time he grabbed the chance to explore. Within three days he was free-roaming and loving having the freedom to move. His back legs gradually began to regain function, and aside from the scarring on his back, the only other tell-tale of his past was the way he held himself. Best described as looking like his skin was too tight, which it probably was as the healing was taking place.
|The scab that came off Bobby's back|
It’s been nearly 3 weeks since Bobby came into our care at the RSPCA Manchester & Salford Branch. The physical scaring maybe nearly gone but the emotional damage is not. It is unlikely Bobby will want any contact with another rabbit in the future, and his flighty, timid nature will likely see him wait many months to be adopted, but regardless of these impediments Bobby will remain with us until that day a special person comes along to offer him a home.
I hope I never see another ‘Bobby’ for as long as I live. What he endured, how he suffered, should never been allowed again, but we all know that there is always going to be an animal somewhere suffering, in need of the RSPCA. Myself and all my colleagues, whether that is branch, national or front line field staff value your support so much, you keep us going. But it’s the Bobby bunnies that actually motivate us to get us out of bed each day. Thank you for enabling us to do what we do, it is an honour.
To help with Bobby's recovery and care please consider sponsoring our staff Susie and Deb who are shaving their hair to raise money for the care of the animals. Donate here.