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RAPS holds “pop-up” vaccination clinic

Vaccines came too late for RAPS rabbits, but others will be saved

A unique pop-up vaccination clinic took place Sunday, providing a small consolation at the end of a very sad period for the Regional Animal Protection Society (RAPS).

After the tragic outbreak of rabbit hemorrhagic disease (RHD) at the City of Richmond Animal Shelter earlier this month, RAPS, which is contracted to operate the Shelter, was forced to euthanize the entire rabbit population at the Shelter. The rabbit habitats are being demolished, the site will be decontaminated and completely new habitats will be constructed.

“A small silver lining in this whole story is the fact that we finally received the vaccine for RHD from the United Kingdom,” says Eyal Lichtmann, executive director and CEO of RAPS. “While it is too late for our rabbits, RAPS invited those who have adopted or fostered rabbits from us in the past to bring them for vaccinations.” A pop-up clinic took place Sunday, April 29.

Because of the highly contagious nature of rabbit hemorrhagic disease, extraordinary protocols were put in place. Maple Leaf Self Storage donated the parking lot of their location at Quebec Street and East Second Avenue for the clinic.

The clinic was created for two hours only. People brought their rabbit companions to the location at appointed times between 9:30 and 11:30 a.m. Dr. Assaf Goldberg, one of the veterinarians at the RAPS Animal Hospital, and other members of the RAPS team were on hand. The vet leaned into the car, where the rabbits were either held in people’s laps or transported in a top-opening carrier. The vaccinations were administered, the people drove away, the veterinarian changed into fresh scrubs and gloves and attended to the next appointment.

20180429_111418-SQ The vaccinations were offered for free. However, RAPS asked for donations of $100, or as much as families could afford, the revenue from which will be used for the rabbit habitat reconstruction project. Donations to the reconstruction project are also welcome online.

Rabbit hemorrhagic disease cannot be contracted by humans or any other animals. However, humans and other animals can transport and transmit it between rabbits.

“RAPS is a no-kill animal organization and the grief experienced by our staff and volunteers around this issue remains deeply painful,” says Julie Desgroseillers, manager of the RAPS City of Richmond Animal Shelter and RAPS Cat Sanctuary. “Seeing the rabbits come through the temporary clinic on Sunday and knowing that at least they will be safe, healthy and protected from this terrible disease gives us some sense of peace.”

RAPS is very grateful to Maple Leaf Self Storage for offering space from their Quebec Street location for this life-saving clinic.

“We were shocked to hear about this devastating virus,” said Tracy McEvoy, Director at Maple Leaf Self Storage. “RAPS was looking for a safe, clean location for their temporary clinic and we’re happy to be in the position to help.”

In all, 35 bunnies adopted from RAPS, plus 10 from Vancouver Rabbit Rescue and Advocacy, were vaccinated.

Support is being sought to fund the reconstruction of a new rabbit habitat at the RAPS City of Richmond Animal Shelter. Donations can be made by calling 604-285-7724 and are also welcome online.