Saturday, March 30, 2013

Think Twice Before Adopting Rabbits for Easter

It's been a tradition in the past for families to give baby rabbits, chicks, ducks and other "cute" barnyard animals to children for Easter. While many families do raise and care for rabbits as pets, in many of these situations where the adoption is holiday based, it can turn into the nightmare as the family may find they are not prepared to care for the animal and it winds up injured, lost, abandoned or even killed.

That's why I was surprised to receive an e-mail blast for the Los Angeles Department of Animal Services that, while noting the general theme that impulse holiday pet adoptions are not a good idea, it was nonetheless highly encouraging the adoption of rabbits. While there are many rabbits held in shelters or rescues that need loving homes, it is a decision that any family should not come to lightly and surrounded by the emotion of holidays.

Bay Area based "The Rabbit Haven," a rescue and advocacy organization, urges parents to think again and not adopt the creatures, reminding that rabbits are "not a child's toy." They offer up the following points:
  • Rabbits are not toys to be set up in a kid's room only to come out when the child FEELS like playing. The rabbit needs a family to live with who loves them. They need room to play and be themselves.
  • Rabbits are not always cuddly and do not always like to be hauled around. They are affectionate, enjoy running and playing on the ground and use litter boxes.
  • Rabbits can become frightened when held or confronted by prey animals, like the family dog or cat. THEY NEED LOVING, GENTLE CARE.
  • Rabbits need to live indoors to be safe from diseases and predators.
  • Rabbits are not low maintenance pets. They require as much work as a cat or dog. Rabbits have high social needs and often want another rabbit as a companion.
  • Rabbits are not good first pets for a very young child. Kids lose interest quickly, and rabbits need continual love and support for a lifetime.
  • Rabbits can live 10 years, sometimes longer.
  • Rabbits need medical care from an Exotics vet. Spay or neuter can cost $150 or more, and rabbits require routine veterinary care. Rabbits have special diets and housing needs.
  • Rabbits cannot be set "free" out of doors- it's a death sentence. They are usually killed by predators within 72 hours, suffering terribly.
If you are interested in responsible rabbit adoption after the holidays, contact an organization such as Rabbit Rescue, Inc., who can get you started right.