I think it's time to trumpet some of the stuff we're getting done behind the scenes. Since well before we moved the first batch to Texas, we'd been investigating the most cost-effective ways to accomplish this. To this end, we are trying to secure a vehicle (or trailer) capable of moving a larger number of rabbits at a reasonable cost.
As a bit of a backgrounder -- the cost to move the first batch of 47 UVic bunnies to Texas was around (receipts still need a final tally) $2000. This was done entirely using rental vehicles. Part of the value of this trip was gathering on-the-ground logistical info, but the per-bunny cost is roughly $43 for this trip. We would like to see this pushed well below $30 per rabbit, and that mandates a different mode of transport.
We had been offered the services of an animal transport truck by a US-based charity, but the cost they'd proposed to us was $14000 for the trip, once we got the rabbits into Washington state. I have not been given a clear answer on how many their truck could take, so the value proposition is unclear. This is further complicated by the fact that the BC Ministry of Environment permit only allows us to posses 96 rabbits at any one time. This would mandate the use of another vehicle to get rabbits from BC to somewhere in Washington, as well as the staging area itself, along with associated costs of keeping rabbits there until we have enough queued to fill their vehicle.
One of our group has located a promising truck on the island. The owner (and his accountant) were unfortunately unable find an economically sound way to donate it to TRACS, but the price is good. We are currently only about $1000 shy of being able to purchase it outright. Arrangements are being made to have a qualified mechanic perform (possibly donate) an inspection, as well.
Such a truck would be owned by TRACS, at least for the duration of this operation. After that time, TRACS could opt to sell it or keep it for other projects they have.
What still needs to be determined is whether this truck would move UVic rabbits:
- to a staging area in the US, where they are transfered to a larger-volume transport -or-
- all the way to Texas
The first is attractive as it would mean that we could further leverage economies of scale. There have been some ongoing discussions with US-based transporters. More information on this will follow.
We have also secured the services of a metal fabricator/machinist who will donate his services to weld up racking/shelving to hold rabbit cages/carriers securely during transport. The hard work of our volunteers has resulted in us having a pretty decent supply of carriers (though we can always use more).
Among the things we'd still need add to the truck are:
(aside from that bit of money indicated above)
- RV air-conditioning unit to keep temperatures in the box comfortable and safe
(Texas is still having some pretty warm weather)
- pop-up RV skylights/vents to allow exhausting of warm/smelly air
- 1"x2"x1/8" (cross-section) aluminum angle extrusion for the racking/shelving in the box
- vinyl flooring (and adhesive) to line the truck box bottom to make it easier to keep sanitary
If any of our readers know of someone who has such things - please
email me and I'll get the info to the appropriate person(s).