At a Tuesday shareholders meeting in North Carolina, Whole Foods Market president and chief operating officer AC Gallo announced that the organic grocery chain plans to cease the sale of rabbit meat by the end of 2015. The company began the sale in summer 2014 as a trial program but immediately drew criticism from rabbit-lovers across the country, resulting in dozens of protests in front of stores and a petition with more than 50,000 signatures. “We are extremely grateful that a monumental amount of rabbit lives will be saved moving forward,” Tara Baxter, Rabbit Advocacy Network founder, said. “We hope that other grocery chains will follow suit so that the cruelty inherent in rabbit farming will cease forever. There is no humane way to farm and kill a bunny, and these animals suffer immensely when they should be treated like the beloved companion animals they are.” Rabbits are now the third most popular companion animal in America with 2.5 million people living with rabbits, according to the 2012 American Pet Products Association survey.