Rabbit Education Society

Rabbits & Rabbit Education

Welcome to the Rabbit Education Society's gateway to learning about Rabbit Legislation

This section is a very complete resource for the rabbit breeder to learn about legislation that can affect you as well as the animal rights movement and most importantly how to effectively fight for your right to breed rabbits.

New York State Legislative Alert Section:

2018 two bills rabbit breeder need to OPPOSE details in the pdf files below

Pet Dealer law.pdf

NYSLA Outdoor shelter.pdf


Specific Information You Can Use to Protect Your Rights to Breed Rabbits

Action Plan to Defeat Any Legislation Plan.pdf

Tips on how to successfully defeat breeder licensing   Success.pdf

How NYS breeders defeated breeder licensing in 2004 along with survey results and letter to legislators:  NYSBL.pdf

Model for Rabbit Classification as a Multi-purpose animal  Model Rabbit Classification.pdf

Model Legislation Model Ordinance for Keeping Rabbits in an Urban setting.pdf

Animal Control Don't Become a Victim!

What to Do When Animal Control Comes Knocking  AnimalControlyourrights.pdf

Anti-breeding laws are unconstitutional rebuttal to ISAR  ISARresp.pdf


Animal Control Victimizing Animal Owners:  20/20 report Part I 

20/20 Part II


Rabbit Legislation101

How a Bill Becomes a Law


After introduction in a legislative body (such as a senate, house of representatives or assembly), a bill is referred to a committee which is comprised of legislators. Most animal bills are introduced in the Agriculture committee. Sometimes they may first be placed in a Consumer Protection Committee. Because bills might impact several layers of government, they sometimes are considered by several committees. A lot happens to a bill between when it is introduced and it’s signed into law, if it is. In both federal and state governments, committee votes are an important part of a bill’s journey.

A committee debates and “marks up” (edits) the proposed bill. A committee may also add new language and ideas to a bill in the form of amendments. Prior to a full committee vote, there may be open hearings on the bill that allow public testimony. Stopping a bill in committee is the first step if it is negative legislation.

Once a bill is finished being worked on in committee the revised bill is scheduled to be voted on by the full committee. A simple majority is usually all that is needed to pass. If the bill passes, it either moves to the next committee that needs to consider it or it moves to the floor of the main legislative body for a vote.

Ways in which a bill can be obstructed during the committee process:


    * If a committee deems a bill frivolous or imprudent, it may stop working on the bill by “tabling” it—which means putting it aside—indefinitely.

    * A committee chairperson can stop a bill by never calling it for a committee vote.

    * A committee might also assign a bill to a subcommittee for intensive study.

    * Sometimes, amendments change a bill so dramatically that its original intent becomes obscured. In extreme cases, its sponsor is forced to withdraw support and fight against the very legislation that he or she once championed.

If a bill is voted favorably out of committee it can then go to a full vote of the legislative body. If it passes by a majority it goes to the executive's desk (governor on the state level, President on the Federal) to be signed into law. There can be differences between passed bills from both sides of the legislative branch in which case a committee is formed to merge the two bill versions into one which is then sent to the executive to sign into law.

NYS Flow chart How a Bill Becomes a Law: Flow chart


Tips On Attending a Public Hearing


-Be prepared to answer questions that the commissioners may ask

-Be sure to find out the check in procedure to allow someone to speak at a public hearing prior to attending the hearing.

-Speakers are usually limited to 3-5 minutes each. A person who has more to say can ask another speaker to allow them their block of time.

-Legislators are not interested in hearing the same points repeated over and over and might even cut off a speaker who is repeating information previously offered by a previous speaker. If you have nothing new to add, simply state you support what the previous speakers of your viewpoint have stated.

-You will carry more weight with the commissioners if you present factual information in a respectful, moderate tone of voice. DON'T play to the spectators. They have NO VOTE.

-Be prepared to answer questions that the commissioners may ask

 Project Votesmart How a Bill Becomes a Law

How Laws Are Made


Do you need a USDA license?

Here are some links to find out. The short of it is if you breed for show and sell to other breeders, use the rabbits for meat or fur, or only sell pet rabbits "sight seen" ie the pet buyer gets to inspect the rabbit before taking it, you are exempt from USDA licensing.  The change in the retail pet store law didn't negatively impact rabbits as in other species. We were lucky that USDA decided that sale between rabbit breeders is not the same thing as pet sales. If you sell sight unseen as pets, or to pet stores or dealers, or to research and gross over $500 per year you do require a USDA license. 


USDA/APHIS home page for Animal Welfare

USDA Quick Checklist for If you need a USDA license

USDA FAQ on new retail pet store rule


Historical References 

Rabbit Education Society document regarding effect of USDA/APHIS New Retail Pet store rule 2012       USDArabbits.pdf


State Laws Impacting Rabbits:

Minimum Age to sell:

Rabbits must be at least 8 weeks of age:
North Carolina, Indiana, Virginia, Florida, Vermont, New Jersey, California, Kentucky, South Carolina, Maine, Maryland, Montana, Pennsylvania

New York, unless sold in lots of at least 6

Min 4 weeks of age

Ban on artifical color or dye:
New Jersey, California, Kentucky, South Carolina, Maine, Maryland, Montana, Pennsylvania, North Dakota, DC, Illinois, Arkansas, Connecticut, New Hampshire, Tennessee, Washington, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Louisiana, Ohio

Min age of 16 weeks to sell:
Washington, DC

Ban on sale in public places, side of raod, etc:
Pennsylvania, Vermont, California

Local Laws

Aurora, CO mandatory spay/neuter ordinance, pet limit law of two rabbits. Exception requires purchase of a breeder or kennel license.

San Francisco, CA prohibits the sale of pet rabbits in the city and county. Apparently $helters and Re$cues are allowe to sell pet rabbits. Note there are still a large number of homesless rabbits in this area presumably due to sales by shelters and rescues.

Prohibits the sale of pet rabbits supplied by sources other than a shelter or rescue
Los Angeles, CA (2013)
Chicago, IL (2014)
New York City (2014 bans takes effect in summer 2015)

In the above cases rabbit "re$cuers" incorrectly state rabbits can no longer be "sold" instead they are "adopted". This is totally incorrect, when someone obtains a rabbit from a shelter or rescue money exchanges hands. You can call this an "adoption fee" or whatever but it is still a SALE!!! Shelters & rabbit "rescues" DO have rabbits they sell returned or abandoned. The number is kept secret likely because it is QUITE HIGH. While rabbit "rescue" is uber critical of rabbit breeders the reality is 25%-50% of unwanted rabbits likely originated from a "rescue" or shelter.
The county of Bernalillo, NM prohibits the sale of rabbits as companion animals. Sale of all rabbits is banned during the months of March and April.  

Bans the sale of rabbits in public places

Fort Worth, San Antonio, Austin, and Houston, TX
Any Arizona county with a population of 800,000 or more

More references:

Listing of state rabbit laws

USDA Rabbit from farm to table



More Rabbit Legislation Information

 The threat of animal rights negatively impacts every rabbit fancier whether you breed as a hobby, for show, commercially as either a meat or pet breeder, or even just own a rabbit as a pet. Daily the animal rights extremists attack legitimate animal use, and we let them get away with it. The only reason the animal rights activists have been successful is because we allow them to be successful. Too few fanciers do anything to fight animal rights. As a result our right to breed rabbits, or use any animal is being chipped away. For example, do you think show breeders are the only type of breeder morally authorized to breed? That commercial pet breeders or as ARAs call them "mills" should be eliminated and are "inferior" to show breeders? If so please read this article Commercial vs Show breeding.pdf

 You may find yourself questioning information you have received about "mills". We also have information about what the whole "rabbit mill" issue Rabbitmills.pdf


Farm Bureau Legislative Page Click Here

Farm Bureau Legal Advocacy Section AFBF Legal Advocacy

Animal Agriculture Alliance