Animal Protection > AR Interviews

By Claudette Vaughan. First published in Vegan Voice.

Vegans and Sydney-siders, Glenda and Phil, have established "Glenda's Rabbit and Rodent Rescue". They collect rabbits and rodents from vets, pounds, laboratories and shelters where these sentient creatures would otherwise be destroyed. Their goal is re-homing so if you are interested in adopting or come across a homeless animal email:

Q. What factor made you and Phil set up "Glenda's Rabbit and Rodent Rescue" establishment?

A. It was a spur of the moment decision really! After Phil and I had adopted a few rabbits of our own, we were pretty saddened to hear that hundreds of these beautiful creatures are destroyed at the RSPCA every year at the Yagoona branch alone. I can't remember exactly how it happened, but the idea came into my head, Phil thought it was a good idea too, and the rest is history! We didn't even have a proper set up or any idea on how we were going to do it; we just knew we had to do something! It seemed to happen overnight, within a week of 'advertising' to vets and pounds, we had our first call to pick up a stray rabbit from a vet in our areA.

Q. At what stage are you at with it?

A. Well we're doing ok. I'd like to say that we're rehoming hundreds of rabbits and rodents a month, but that is far from the case. The majority of enquiries we get about animals are not from people wishing to adopt, but from people wanting us to take in a new resident. I can't say how many animals we've rehomed at the moment off the top of my head. I've lost count, so that must be a good thing! Every month is completely different, sometimes we're flooded with enquiries, other times it's very slow and there is very little interest at all. Proudly I can say that in early December we rehomed two rabbits in one day to two different people, now that was a first! The main thing is, we are rescuing animals from death row, and if it takes years to rehome one or two of them, then so be it. They are quite content here, get plenty of good food and exercise, the only thing is the obvious - when we rehome one it makes room for another unwanted animal....

Q. How many residents do you have?

A. Well of course, there's Phil, Sean (Phil's son) and me! Apart from the people in the household well, there's no shortage of fur! We have two dogs, a cat, a guinea pig and 5 rabbits. Currently we have only 6 foster rabbits, so we're having a little bit of a 'break'....

Q. How difficult is it to rehome rats, mice and rabbits?

A. We rarely hear from people about rats or mice at all whether it's to adopt or surrender and occasionally we get calls regarding guinea pigs, but once again, that's pretty rare. Mostly people contact us about rabbits.

Q. Please recall some sensitive stories about those in your care to show that indeed "Rats Do have Rights" and Rabbits are more than only "vermin"?

A. Well I have a sweet story about a wild mouse that came to live with us. At the time we had an aviary with a few birds in it (rescued from RSPCA) and wild rats and mice kept getting in and eating the seed, but then they'd be too fat to get out of the same hole! We'd have to open the door for them! One day one little mouse was stuck in a hole in the wire on the ground. I didn't know what to do but Phil had the answer. He went down with a pair of plyers and cut the wire so the little guy could fit back through. Before he/she went down the hole, he/she turned around and put his/her hand on the plyers as if to say "Thank you" to Phil. It was beautiful. When we rescued "Jeremy", a big rabbit, from the North Shore Vet Clinic in September 2002, it was unbelievable. They have a pound there and a couple of guys brought in Jeremy about a month before hand. The vet receptionist contacted me and said that if they don't find a home they'll let us know. A month went by and no one showed any interest. So we went all the way from Blacktown to the vet to pick this bunny up. As soon as I saw him in the small cage I fell in love.... He looked at me with these big long eyelashes; it was like when I have met people and after a few words decided that they'll be my friend for life. Anyway, on the way home he looked at me and I just couldn't believe the look on his face, it was remarkable. We brought him home, I sat him on the couch and he kissed me on the hand. I thought "No, we have to REHOME this bunny...", but within 24 hours Phil suggested we keep the bunny, now named "Sunny". I still remember screaming my lungs out with joy!!! Sunny chose us, he comes and kisses us regularly and really is a character!

Q. What does it mean to you to be vegan?

A. Wow! It means so much to me, where to begin ? Firstly it's my way of life, but it is also about so many other things! It's about compassion for all living creatures; it's about love and freedom for all; it's about what I wear, use and eat; it's about delicious food; it's about the constant checking of ingredients on labels; it's about teaching others; it's about knowledge of what happens to animals raised purely for "meat" and "dairy" products; it's about all those things and much much more. It's the most important thing in my life. Being vegan is a statement in itself. When I tell people I'm vegan the next question is always, "Why??" My answer is simple but effective: "Because I love animals!" This always prompts people to go further with even more questions which can sometimes be a burdon, but I always make sure I remain civil.

Q. Tell us about the last World Animal Day. I believe you held a vegan cake stall. How did that go?

A. Yes! It was a great day! I was quite nervous about it not having done anything like this before, and I'm one of those people who tend to worry about things going wrong...I'm not much of a cake or biscuit eater myself, so I guess it's quite amazing that I can manage to cook these treats for other people! Phil and I spent a few days beforehand baking cakes and biscuits and on the day a number of people brought some of their own yummy treats for us to sell as well! No one who bought food from us appeared disappointed; in fact many came back for more! Some people bought bags full to take home!! We raised nearly $200 for Animal Liberation NSW which was fantastic; but many people said to us we were selling ourselves short, that we should have sold the food for more $$$ as it was that good....hmmm, oh well there is always next year! Perhaps we can raise the prices then and aim to raise double the amount we did this time!

Q. Who has influeneced you the most in the movement Glenda.

A. Geez, that's a hard one! So many people have been a big influence on me I don't know where to start. They have all had such a huge impact on my confidence as it's always soooo good to know you're not alone in what you believe in! After many many years of feeling quite alone in my beliefs, Carlie Martin, Elizabeth Usher and Elizabeth Alston from Aust. Association for Humane Research were a really great introduction to the people involved in the AR movement for me. I volunteered for AAHR a few years ago, never ever knowing anyone in the movement. It took me years to get the courage to get up and physically meet some people through volunteer work as I have always been a pretty shy person and don't particularly like going to things alone. They are such good company and we have become really good friends and I will always look to them for support and insperation. Then there's Margaret Setter! She's such a trooper and has done so much for Animal Liberation NSW over the years, when I first got into contact with her I was overwhelmed with her passion and enthusiasm for animal and human rights. Jessica Bailey of the Cruelty Free Shop is a gutsy little woman who opened that internet store on a whim and she basically became an instant friend of mine after my first couple of orders. I am overwhelmed by her calm approach to everything in general; I don't think I've ever seen her cranky! Kim Hollingsworth has become definitely a great friend and support of mine; we often chat on the phone and complain and debrief about things that are upsetting us and we can also have a good laugh too. Oh, and I can't forget those famous people like Paul McCartney, Daniel Johns, Senator Andrew Bartlett, Moby, Bryan Adams and K.D. Lang. I find I use the famous people to my advantage when people act nasty towards me for being a veggie....I simply say, "Would you be having the same conversation with Paul McCartney (or which ever famous person I think they could relate to better...) if he were here ? I mean he has a similar belief to me you know..." And lastly, not forgetting my wonderful partner Phil. I introduced him to a lot of AR issues over the last 9 years since knowing him, and boy does he get feisty about things! He has always been there for me when I am upset about a particular issue and it's his strength and support that gets me through. I will never forget watching a slaughterhouse video with "Goldfinger" music playing in the background. I was particularly sensitive at the time and bursted into tears! Phil took me outside, cuddled me and said, "Well that video makes me feel proud because we're not contributing to any of that..."

Q. As rabbits, guinea pigs, rats and mice are not seen in the same light as cats and dogs, as a humane education activist what advise would you give knowing what you know about your own brood.

A. I guess like having any animal in your care, you need to be prepared to spend time with your new friends. People seem to think that these animals are 'low maintenance pets' or 'good for kids', but this is just not true! No matter what companion animal/s one has in their life, a great deal of responsibility, care and time is needed in order to give those animals the life that they deserve. Rabbits and rodents make wonderful companions, but one has to be prepared to take time to learn about the responsibilities BEFORE making the decision to adopt one or more of these special creatures. Rabbits and rodents need to have clean bedding regularly and need to have food available to graize on 24 hours a day. They are also great escapees and can chew through cords and cables so 'bunny/rodent proofing' your home is a good idea BEFORE you adopt them. One thing is for sure, all animals are great to have around and Phil and I cannot recommend bunnies and rodents enough! They bring so much joy to our household.

Note: Donations of unwanted hutches are always greatly appreciated.