My recent trip to Best Friends also included a volunteer shift (my “first time”) at the Bunny House. And no, I’m not talking about Heff’s place, that brothel in the desert that you heard about on HBO or, the movie with Anna Faris. I’m referring, quite literally, to the Bunny House at the sanctuary, which is one of many on-site homes for the hundreds of bunnies rescued and cared for by Best Friends Animal Society.
Most folks who work in dog rescue dread Christmas time because it usually means hoards of not-so-savvy parents opting to “get their kids a puppy as a gift”–something most oh-so-savvy rescues say no to. Well, guess which kind of fuzzball is numero uno for hasty adoptions and purchases around Easter? That’s right, let’s get our little Jane a pet bunny. Who will subsequently be locked in a hutch in the backyard and forgotten about once we’re all done hunting for those eggs.
Rabbit rescue is tough, and not for the faint of heart. Even some of the most terrifying animal hoarding cases involving dogs or cats usually still only number in the hundreds. However with rabbits, you could be looking at thousands. One noteworthy case is what came to be known at “The Great Bunny Rescue of 2006” where over 1600 rabbits were found on one woman’s property. Yes, that’s right folks, they literally “multiply like rabbits”. Imagine that?
Most of the bunnies at Best Friends will never be adopted. With hundreds coming in every year, probably only 20-25 are adopted out, partly because bunny adoption hasn’t yet gained the cache that dog or cat adoption has, and because, more sadly, rescued bunnies are usually pretty damaged by the time they’re rescued. Rabbits have incredibly fragile backs and spines and often fall victim to heavy-handed, unsupervised kids or owners who just have no clue how to handle them. Rabbits also desperately need “hopping time” every day and can develop serious health problems if they’re left in confined boxes or cages all the time.
I spent a morning helping and watching devoted staff members diligently cleaning out bunny runs, laundering fresh blankets, filling water pails while weathering a cold, snowy morning, distributing fresh hay (an essential piece of their diet), gently lifting and moving “downed bunnies” (meaning bunnies who have developed some sort of handicap or paralysis from sickness or mishandling), and all the while stopping to point out something interesting about a particular bunny or perhaps just stooping down to give them some TLC.
Adopting a rescue bunny can be a wonderful thing, but until you’re ready to make a serious commitment as a pet parent, show your two-legged kids a good time with a bunny of the chocolate or stuffed variety and the good example of bunny sponsorship. Or, no kids in the house, maybe a bunny costume for that special someone? Just an idea.