Thinking of buying rabbit for Easter - Think again AND DON'T DO IT! Remember: A Rabbit is NOT a Child's Toy!!
Have you ever thought about bringing home a real bunny for Easter? Before you do, Heather Bechtel, Director of the all volunteer, non-profit organization "The Rabbit Haven" asks that you think again. Don't be fooled by all the Easter advertising. Consider these facts:
The Easter story:
Every year thousands of tiny baby rabbits are purchased for Easter gifts! Marketed heavily by the pet industry, baby bunnies are promoted as basket stuffers for Easter morning, as cute, soft, gentle pets for kids to play with. Little thought or help is offered about their needs, care and well-being. It is the end of February and already pet stores are geared up for Easter. Backyard breeders are also ready to make their money offering these babies in yard sales and at flea markets. The Haven warns you against the purchase of these rabbits. They have not had the benefit of healthy rearing, are often ill and many of them will die. Do not add to their suffering by supporting these stores and backyard breeders by purchasing their "products".
The facts: Unfortunately, many people don't take time to find out about responsible rabbit guardianship before they buy a "cute little bunny", and the result is an overwhelming number of abandoned rabbits, overcrowded shelters, and rescues without resources to manage a huge influx of rabbits. Sadly, the shelters often end up euthanizing many of these abandoned bunnies when they run out of space. Worse yet, some bunnies are simply dumped in the streets, left in parks or in other people's yards and many of these poor rabbits come to the shelters with severe injuries. These rabbits have no way to care for themselves out of doors. They are not wild animals.
Most of the dumped rabbits we see have suffered attacks by any number of predator animals. They are all traumatized and terrified. The Rabbit Haven is often called in to rescue abandoned, mistreated, and injured rabbits. The Rabbit Haven has a network of generous volunteers who provide indoor foster homes, medical care, and give bunnies the tender loving care they need, but our system can manage only 85 rabbits and we are serving a wide range of counties, shelters and we work with the general public as well.
All our rabbits are very safe once in our system. They most often need medical care immediately, and then they begin to trust humans as they are well cared for and loved. However, the Rabbit Haven cannot possibly care for the hundreds of abandoned rabbits that come in each year, especially after EASTER.
This year, please do not add to this critical problem of rabbit dumping and Easter purchasing. Just don't do it! Do not purchase a rabbit at a pet store or from a breeder.
The Rabbit Haven's dedicated volunteers work tirelessly with one goal at this time of year: to break the cycle of impulse rabbit buying that results in rabbits being forgotten around the same time as the Easter candy. This year, The Rabbit Haven has partnered with the national "Make Mine Chocolate" campaign to raise public awareness and encourage people to provide chocolate bunnies or cuddly plush toys to their children this Easter, so that real bunnies can have a Happy Easter, too. This year we will have special pins available for sale at our education events.
If you still think you want a real bunny, be sure to check out the educational materials offered on our website www.therabbithaven.org or better yet, attend one of the Haven's regular rabbit adoption shows that are held at Petsmart in Santa Cruz or at For Other Living Things in Sunnyvale. (The Rabbit Haven does not adopt rabbits during Easter. After the holiday has passed we restart our shows.)
What you can do - This year make a difference
Learn what you really need to know: At our adoption events you can interact with adorable (rescued) rabbits looking for the right family, speak to knowledgeable counselors and get a real appreciation for proper indoor housing conditions, diet essentials, and genuine bunny behaviors. The Haven strongly recommends adopting a homeless rabbit rather than buying from a breeder or pet store. Our rabbits are already spayed or neutered, and have been socialized by the volunteers. Each rabbit has seen a vet who has checked them for any disease. Any illness or injury they may have suffered has been treated.
Note: Adopt a rescued bunny and save three bunny lives! By adopting a Haven rescued rabbit, you're saving three lives: the one you adopt, the life of the next shelter rabbit that replaces your new companion in the foster system and you've created space in the shelter for a new rabbit. Now that is worth celebrating. This Easter do not buy a baby bunny. Wait, and if you really decide a rabbit is the right family companion to adopt, contact the Haven or a rescue near you. Save lives instead of adding to the problem.
Please do not buy a rabbit while so many languish in local shelters!
Overpopulation: The overpopulation of rabbits is one reason not to buy an Easter bunny. Do not support the greedy pet store industry that pumps out new bunnies for every holiday! Pet store bunnies are often sold at only three weeks of age. This is way too young! They are not weaned until they are 8 weeks old! Only then, after they have had enough of their mom's milk to develop a healthy immune system, can they leave their mother. Many of these pet store bunnies cannot even eat on their own; they are sick and often die.
Pet store pair purchases: Many families unwittingly buy male/female pairs when they are told they are buying two females. Too often these pairs are male/female and in only 3.5 to 4.5 months those babies, now adults, can reproduce!
BREEDING facts: One female can produce up to 12 babies in 28 days! Then, the minute she gives birth, she can again become pregnant. The cycle of overpopulation is extremely serious. PLEASE do not add to the grave situation by breeding your rabbits. You may think you can find homes for yours- you most likely cannot. You are also adding to the numbers of rabbits out in the community,many that will be dumped. In addition, it is VERY hard on the female rabbit to breed and breed. The Haven recommends spay at 6 months of age and that you house the female completely separately from a male until she is spayed. (Spay can help prevent uterine cancer in females-they have an 85% risk of cancer between 2-5 yrs.) Neutering your male rabbit can be done earlier, as soon as the testicles descend, 3.5 months to 4 months. Note: the male rabbit may remain fertile after neuter for up to 6 weeks.
All this said:
Knowing that many people will be the unwitting recipients of "Easter" bunnies as gifts, after the Easter holiday, The Rabbit Haven plans to hold "Bunny Basics" educational classes at The Haven's office in Scotts Valley (dates and times will be posted on our website). At www.therabbithaven.org, you can also learn more about responsible rabbit guardianship, see pictures and read stories about bunnies awaiting adoption, make a tax-deductible donation to help cover medical expenses, or become a volunteer.