BWF Mission and History
BWF Mission and History: Bunny World Foundation (BWF) is an ALL-Volunteer, non-profit 501(c) 3 animal welfare organization founded in 2008 in Los Angeles, California. Set up to promote (Shelter) Equity and Equality for Rabbits, BWF’s mission is to combat animal cruelty, illegal animal sales, exploitation and neglect of all animals, through rescue efforts, public education, investigations, legislation, special events, and media attention.
BWF works to reduce rabbit overpopulation and to establish rabbits as companion animals that deserve the same individual rights, level of care, and opportunity for longevity as cats and dogs that live as human companions. BWF manages a complex Foster & Adoption Program that requires constant strengthening and expansion to accommodate new rescues and provide for their intensive care, medication, supplies, and spay/neuter funds. BWF has 300 volunteers/fosters and rescues 500-700 abandoned and abused domestic rabbits a year. In 2014, BWF was featured by CBS as one of the "Five Best Volunteer Opportunities for Animal Lovers in Los Angeles.”
BWF rescued over 6,500 rabbits in the City of LA, ranging from un-weaned baby bunnies from Santee Alley to adult bunnies from the over-inundated city shelters. In the past year alone (2015), BWF took in over 300 “Red” and “Blue” rabbits from the SIX City Shelters. In addition, BWF housed, provided medical care, promoted, and found permanent and loving homes for more than 500 spayed and neutered rabbits.
BWF is proud to celebrate the EIGHT year voyage which begun with the fierce struggle to bring to light illegal animal sales in the LA Fashion District. In terms of global outreach, BWF grew to be the largest Rabbit Rescue & Educational Service in the world. With 122K fans on Facebook, BWF’s posts are shared by millions of BWF members worldwide.
BWF was featured multiple times in LA Times, Huffington Post, LA Business Journal, KABC News, and NBC’s EIGHT-piece Investigation by Ana Garcia Team. BWF voice was heard on KSWD/100.3FM The Sound, 89.3 KPCC, and 102.7 KIIS FM/570 KLAC AM/98.7 KYSR FM. Santee Alley Baby Bunnies *WON* the Genesis Award at the Humane Society of the United States and the Emmy Award at the 65th LA Area Emmy Awards Nominations & Winners. In 2014, BWF was featured by CBS as one of the FIVE "Best Volunteer Opportunities for Animal Lovers in Los Angeles" and made it into LA Times (April 2015). Recently (March 2016) BWF was featured on ABC7 in FABlife episode promoting “Bunnies & Tragedy of Easter!”
BWF track record of effectiveness has led to meaningful victories for animals in city legislatures. BWF received the recognition by The County of LA (Michael D. Antonovich), The California State Assembly (Cameron M. Smyth), and The City of Santa Clarita (Frank Ferry, Mayor).
Illegal Animal Sales in Santee Alley: Santee Alley, LA Fashion District, was the city's number one haven for illegal animal sales where underaged rabbits, kittens, salmonella infected turtles, parvo-infected puppies, and exotic birds were sold illegally on a daily basis. Animals were kept in filthy conditions in the glaring sun with no food or water, and many were sick or dying when sold. These activities clearly violated City codes and other statutes as well. BWF worked tediously on advocacy efforts to urge the city officials and councilmembers to enforce laws prohibiting illegal sales of animals; to better protect the health and welfare of animals and humans that are victimized by such sales; and, where necessary and appropriate, propose new legislation and ordinances in support of these efforts.
BWF successfully combatted illegal animal traffickers in Santee Alley by collaborating with the City Attorney’s Office, and by aiding in the arrest of notorious ring leaders behind this crime. BWF volunteers followed the traffickers, and provided LAPD with the evidence of their offenses. As a result, the bail amount increased from the mere $25 to $26,000, the infamous ring leader of illegal animal traffickers, Juan Mena, got arrested and the People vs Juan Mena and Norma Pluma trial began. In December 2013, the traffickers were found GUILTY by the Jury and were sentenced to jail. This marked the beginning of the end of the ongoing practice of animal abuse, cruelty and disregard for the animal protection laws in Santee Alley, LA Fashion District. Our documentary "The Deadly Secret of Santee Alley" is under way with the collaborative effort of USC Cinema & TV School volunteer filmmakers. In 2011, our documentary was a finalist at MY HERO Int'l Film Festival in the Independent Features in Development Category.
Avitrol Saga: Our investigative division has worked on several projects including capturing the immense suffering of birds caused by the ingestion of Avitrol, increasing awareness of the danger and cruelty of the use of this chemical.
Ordinance Banning Pet Stores from Selling Rabbits: In 2013, BWF was instrumental in pushing the LA City Council to adopt an ordinance banning pet stores from selling rabbits from commercial breeders and limiting pet stores to selling animals obtained from shelters, humane societies and registered rescue groups.
‘Bunnies for Puppies & Kitties’ Division: BWF formed “Bunnies for Puppies & Kitties” division that, through a collaborative effort with other solely cat/dog rescues, saved lives of over 500 dogs/cats from high-kill LA County & City shelters.
Investigations of Illegal Rabbit Breeding Operations: In 2014, BWF conducted several undercover investigations of illegal rabbit breeding operations in the City of LA that resulted in the discussion with the City Officials to bring about “(Shelter) Equity and Rabbit Equality”. At the time many of the city ordinances, particularly those governing breeders, did not apply to the breeding or keeping of rabbits. BWF presented various rabbit breeding cases before the LAAS Board of Commissioners and educated the public officials about much needed regulations and legislative changes in regards to keeping rabbits as pets.
Advocacy Work: Shelter Equity and Rabbit Equality
BWF requested the amendment of the existing city ordinances that protect cats and dogs, by addition/inclusion of the rabbits as beneficiaries to those laws. BWF persistence paid off in multiple ways:
Below are the official city records/excerpts of the BWF’s recent efforts to push for legislation and policies for rabbits to be treated equal to cats and dogs within Los Angeles Animal Services (“LAAS”) and the community.
July 14, 2015: Minutes
August 1, 2015: Letter to the LAAS Board of Commissioners (Exhibit A)
August 11, 2015: Meeting Agenda
Outcomes/Positive Influence (Excerpts):
In November 2014, LAAS impounds 150 rabbits from Westchester following the harsh criticism of doing nothing in similar cases (“Califa”) prior to BWF’s campaign demanding integrity, transparency and accountability. Progress!
Inclusion of rabbits in microchipping protocol at city shelters (just like cats & dogs)
August 2015 – Meeting Agenda - Inclusion of rabbit sterilization in the “free city spay/neuter and discounted spay/neuter certificate programs.” (just like cats & dogs)
August 2015 – Meeting Agenda - Increase in the free spay/neuter certificate program voucher from $70 to $125 for dogs and rabbits
August 2015 – Meeting Agenda - Increase in the discount certificate from $30 to $50 for dogs and rabbits
The most tangible evidence related to LAAS collaboration with the New Hope partners is the LAAS’ report “Outcome Totals for Rabbits by Fiscal Year” posted on the LAAS website. For example, due to BWF’s participation, New Hope placements in 2013-2014 increased from 57 to 214 in 2014-2015. Also, the euthanasia numbers decreased from 312 in 2013-2014 to 171 in 2014-2015. These numbers should continue to improve as new policies as a result of BWF & LAAS collaboration emerge and are voted.