RIVERSIDE – Rabbit rescue groups across Southern California are
urging people not to purchase bunnies as Easter gifts for children, saying that
what begins as a well-intentioned gesture often leads to abandoned animals when the novelty wears off and families realize they’re not equipped to properly care for the pets.
Instead, rescue groups recommend buying a stuffed toy bunny or
chocolate candy rabbit for kids’ Easter baskets.
Retail sales of rabbits, dogs and cats are prohibited in California,
but direct sales are still permitted, including online, and illegal street
sales also occur in which baby bunnies are sometimes deceptively marketed as adult “dwarfs.”
“Every year, we receive numerous reports of bunnies who were bought
for Easter and then discarded once their cuteness or novelty wore off, which is
why we adamantly advocate against buying live animals as Easter gifts,” PETA’s Catie Cryar told City News Service.
More information from PETA can be found at www.peta.org/features/reasons-never-buy-bunny/.
Jude Ferguson, who runs Kribs for Kritters, a rabbit rescue group
based in Lake Elsinore, says her group always sees an increase in dumped
rabbits after Easter.
“The increase usually comes in the summer after baby buns start
growing up and getting hormonal,” she told CNS.She warned people to never release a domestic bunny in the wild.
Domestic and wild rabbits are different species, and domestic bunnies will die
very quickly if left outside.
“Just because they see wild cottontails outside doesn’t mean they can
dump their domestic rabbits outside,” Ferguson said. “Personally, I keep
tabs on locations where there are naturally occurring cottontails because
undoubtedly it’s a place where people dump domestics.”
Ferguson advises people who do keep their rabbits to reach out to
local rescues for resources on low-cost spay and neuter surgeries.
“That’s a big deal for people who are trying to do the right thing
and simply call their local vet and are surprised by the sticker shock,” she
says. “I know I help many people with spay/neuter referrals.”
More information can be found at email@example.com.
Kerri Mabee of the Riverside County Department of Animal Services told
City News Service that the department does not see an increase in rabbits
being adopted from the shelter before Easter, or a huge rush of people
surrendering rabbits after the holiday.
“We do, however, recommend that residents be thoughtful on the matter
of adopting a rabbit to make sure it would be a good fit for the family,”
she said. “Rabbits require exercise and a diet that are unique, so it’s a good
idea to research what’s involved with having a rabbit as a pet.”
Advocates for the animals do want them to be adopted into loving
homes, saying they can be wonderful companions for those who are serious about the commitment. Advocates say the animals are gentle creatures that offer many benefits over other pets, including their quiet nature and a diet of hay and vegetables that avoids adding to the suffering and environmental harm inherent in factory farming that produces dog and cat food.
Rabbits are not low-maintenance pets. They require feeding, cleaning,
and humane indoor housing in a bunny-proofed room, and veterinary care can be expensive, advocates note.
They’re also not ideal pets for small children, as they respond best
to quiet energy and can be easily spooked by the hyperactivity of a child.
The House Rabbit Society also has resources for learning about proper
rabbit care, which can be found at rabbit.org.
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