When Basil the French lop-eared rabbit first arrived at the Paws Here animal rescue centre, he was one of the most badly-neglected animals staff had seen.
He was handed in by a woman who said she could no longer cope with him and had spent his early years shut in a cold, dark hutch in her garden.
His feet were raw from standing on urine-soaked ground too long, his eyes couldn’t cope with natural sunlight and his lungs had been affected by the ammonia in the air in his hutch – which led to chronic pneumonia.
But after two years of nurturing, Basil, thought to be around five years old, will be awarded a gong for best rescue story at the annual Burgess Wetnose Animal Rescue Awards in London tomorrow.
It will be picked up on his behalf by Marie Macgill, his permanent foster carer for Paws Here.
Basil, who has a fan club of admirers and a full diary of visits to teach people how to care for rabbits, lives with Ms Macgill at her home in Gilmerton. Donations to the shelter have paid for his vet bills, which have so far reached around £2500.
Ms Macgill said she had been shocked to see Basil when he first arrived at the shelter: “He looked dreadful. He couldn’t actually hop. It looked like he’d grown into the hutch that they kept him in. When he tried to move he had to drag his back end.”
Basil is currently in good health, though it’s likely that he’ll sufferer health problems in future as a result of his terrible start in life.
Ms Macgill said she tried to be understanding about the circumstances of his original owner: “Most people don’t mean to be cruel, I just think she didn’t know how to look after him properly.”
Basil’s placid nature has won him plenty of fans as a result of visits to open days at the shelter and to other groups of adults and children when Ms Macgill gives talks about rabbit care.
Naomi Chatterley, of award sponsor Burgess Pet Care, said: “Basil is only five years old now, and, like most well-kept pet rabbits, should enjoy a lifespan to well over 12 years of age, but he is going to need treatment for the rest of his life in the care of fosters. All this could easily have been avoided if Basil had been cared for properly by his original owners.”
Paws Here is always looking for animal adopters. For more information, see www.pawshereedinburgh.co.uk or call 0131-447 7464.
BOX MYSTERY FOR ROYAL MILE RODENTS BEA AND EUGENIE
A PAIR of domestic rats has been saved by the SSPCA after being found in a cardboard box on the Royal Mile.
A member of staff at The Hub saw the box early on Sunday.
Senior Inspector John Toule collected them and took them to the SSPCA’s animal rescue and rehoming centre at Balerno, where staff named them Beatrice and Eugenie. He said the animals were in good condition but would have been in danger if they had chewed through the box. “They don’t have the survival instinct that wild rats do. Anyone who recognises the rats or knows who owned them should call our helpline on 03000 999 999.”