Welcome to the ironic world of government regulation of animals. While the government is fine with crappy conditions at CAFOs — just as an example — it is deeply concerned about the life of the bunny rabbits that magicians pull out of their hats, the Washington Post reports.

The Post focuses on one particular rabbit and one particular magician, Marty Hahne:

Hahne has an official USDA license, No. 43-C-0269, for Casey — a three-pound Netherland dwarf rabbit with a look of near-fatal boredom. The rules require Hahne to pay $40 a year, take Casey to the vet and submit to surprise inspections of his home.

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Also, if Hahne plans to take the rabbit out of town for an extended period, he must submit an itinerary to the USDA. The 1966 law that started all of this was four pages long. Now, the USDA has 14 pages of regulations just for rabbits.

Now, we’re not saying that magicians don’t sometimes treat their animals badly, because they do. This is more of an example of how the government regulation doesn’t always make much sense. If Hahne wanted to make his life easier, for instance, he could pull a cold-blooded creature — no license needed! — out of his hat. Apparently you’re OK to mistreat a lizard as much as you want.

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But Hahne is sticking with his bunny. And because of a law first passed under George W. Bush, as a reaction to Katrina, the government more recently told him that he’d need to submit a disaster response plan for how he was going to deal with Casey in an emergency.

“Fire. Flood. Tornado. Air conditioning going out. Ice storm. Power failures,” Hahne said, listing a few of the calamities for which he needed a plan to save the rabbit.

It’s not a totally crazy idea; I just read a book about Katrina in which pets were being euthanized because their owners didn’t want to leave them behind. Having a plan helps people keep calm and focused during disasters. But it does seem like there are greater risks to animal welfare that the government might want to train its attention on. Like, say, the planet getting too warm for living things to thrive.