Apr 04.11

Have a Bunny-Free Easter

Bunnies are a popular Easter gift but before you decide to make one a family pet this holiday, learn more. We’ve enlisted the help of Marina Hébert, a volunteer with the Small Animal Rescue Society of BC (SARS) to give us some insight about what to expect when you buy a real rabbit. SARS is a volunteer-run society that works to rescue and find homes for neglected, injured and abandoned animals. Read on to find out more.

Every year, thousands of baby rabbits are purchased at pet stores as Easter gifts for children. Sadly, many of these bunnies will be abandoned in the weeks and months that follow, when families discover that their new purchase is a living, sentient being with complex needs. Some of them will be surrendered to overworked, underfunded shelters that are already operating at full capacity. Others will not make it to their first birthday and will die of illness and neglect.Rabbit

Around Easter, rabbits are often marketed as ‘starter pets’, leading parents to believe that they’ll be easier for their children to take care of than a dog or cat. The reality is that rabbits are a ten-year commitment. Domestic bunnies should live in the house, as members of the family. They are wonderful companions who can be litter trained, but they’re not ‘low-maintenance’. They require space, housing, litter box changing, fresh vegetables, unlimited access to hay, chew toys, grooming, social interaction and specialized vet care.

Please do not buy rabbits as gifts or on a whim this Easter! If you’re really interested in adding a bunny to your family, do some research first. Rabbit.org is a wonderful, comprehensive resource for would-be rabbit guardians. Consider carefully whether you’re able to make a 10+ year commitment, and whether the adults in the household are able to be the rabbit’s primary caregivers.Bunnies

If you decide that a rabbit is the right companion for you, please adopt – don’t shop! Pet store bunnies are often sourced from mills and less-than-ethical breeders. They’re usually not spayed or neutered, so the store can sell them for less. This leads to behavioral issues and unwanted litters of rabbits that will most likely spend their lives in shelters.

Adopting a rabbit from a shelter such as the Small Animal Rescue Society (SARS) has many advantages:

- They subsidize part of the spay/neuter cost through fundraising activities. The SARS rabbit adoption fee is $50 – a fraction of what it actually costs for this procedure.

- They will match you with a rabbit whose personality fits your lifestyle, taking into account whether you have children or other pets in the house.

- They will provide you with post-adoption support including access to a Facebook group where you can post questions and volunteers who can offer hands-on help with behavioral challenges.

Rabbit Kisses

Rabbits are fascinating, complex animals. We sincerely hope that more people will think twice before impulsively purchasing a bunny at a pet store this Easter. Please do not buy rabbits as gifts and, if you and your family have done your research and decided that a bunny would make good companion for you, hop on down to your local shelter. Ask lots of questions! Shelter volunteers do what they do because they love rabbits and have a wealth of knowledge to share.

Tasha Dennis

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