Resist Giving Bunnies For Easter Gifts!
This isn’t the usual type of blog you’ll find here, but it is an important message that needs to get out every year. Hundreds of baby animals suffer from the practice of becoming Easter novelties, and thousands of children are left heart broken and learning a very bad lesson about animal treatment and responsibility.
Every year, animal shelters and foster homes rescue baby rabbits as well as chicks from the streets after being discarded when little Laura or Bobby grew tired of their living Easter gift. There are a lot of resources out there explaining why this is a bad idea, such as:
House Rabbit Society (HRS) strongly urges parents not to buy their children live “Easter bunnies” unless they are willing to make a 10-year commitment to properly care for the animals.
Margo DeMello, president of HRS, encourages rabbit lovers to support the “Make Mine Chocolate” campaign created by the Columbus, Ohio, chapter of HRS. “Rabbits are not ‘low maintenance’ pets,” says DeMello; they require at least the same amount of work as a cat or dog, and often more. Chocolate rabbits are a great alternative; kids can enjoy them for 10 minutes, and they won’t have to take care of them for the next 10 years.”
Mary Cotter, vice-president of HRS, says that many of the rabbits purchased as Easter pets will never live to see their first birthday. Some will die from neglect, while others will be abandoned in local parks or left at animal shelters.
Thinking of bringing home a live bunny as an Easter gift this April? Did you know that…
…Pet rabbits can live from seven to ten or more years and require the same long-term care as dogs and cats?
…Young children and bunnies aren’t such a good match?
…Pet rabbits aren’t low-maintenance pets―they have specific dietary and veterinary needs, and must be handled with care?
…Pet rabbits must be live indoors, with their human families?
…Thousands of ex-Easter bunnies are abandoned to shelters or into the wild each year when their novelty wears off?
According to Kim Dezelon with Brambley Hedge Rabbit Rescue, rabbits can live to be 10 years old and cannot live outside in the Arizona summer heat. Dezelon also says most rabbits do NOT like to be held and will scratch and bite when frightened.
Brambley Hedge Rabbit Rescue, located in Scottsdale, houses over 130 domestic rabbits at any one time; most of them are “Easter Dumps,” according to Dezelon.
Purchasing a rabbit or chick is not usually the expensive part (and thus making impulse buys all the more attractive for some people). Taking care of animals, however, over their lifetime is often much more expensive than people anticipate.
All too often, Easter gift animals are relinquished to shelters or let loose in the wild to fend for themselves (usually with disastrous results) after the initial fun wears off. According to the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), rabbits are the third most commonly relinquished animal at shelters. Sadly, this is not a lesson that we should be teaching children — that pets are disposable.
“People often don’t realize the level of commitment that these animals require,” said Adam Goldfarb, director of the Pets at Risk program for The HSUS. “The animals that people associate with Easter, like chicks and baby rabbits, have very specific social and nutritional needs. They can’t be caged continuously or relegated to the basement or garage.”
[…] Unfortunately, many are euthanized due to lack of available homes. […]
Some animals given as gifts are released into the wild when people tire of them. However, the animals are unable to fend for themselves and usually die of starvation or exposure to the elements, or are preyed upon by other animals. It’s not easy breaking the news to a child that their new pet is being given away because the adults in the home made a bad decision
Many of the animals available for Christmas/Easter time in petshops and from breeders have been specifically breed to take advantage of buyers wanting presents. If they are willing to sell animals as presents they are irresponsible. If they aren’t responsible in choosing appropriate homes for their animals, they are just as likely to be irresponsible in ensuring the health of the animals they are breeding from. Vet bills don’t make good presents.
I recently acquired a rabbit from the school where I teach art. The director has other animals for the children as well as other rabbits in a hutch that didn’t take well to this little one.
She is about a year old and has been so traumatized by the children at the school, she will not allow my daughter to hold her. She bites at my daughter not because she is a mean rabbit but because she doesn’t like being held by children. There was a common belief that she liked children merely because she didn’t put up a fight around the children who would crowd around whomever was holding her. The simple fact is she was too terrified to move.
She’s become more adventurous and cuddly since being in my home away from the chaotic environment of grade schoolers, but she still will not allow my third grader to hold her. Being that she is no longer afraid to fight back, she has scratched and bitten her – though not hard. It’s her way of communicating that she wants my daughter to leave her alone, which hurts my daughter who wants to be a veterinarian when she gets older. I’ve had to explain why she is this way, but it’s still difficult for a child who loves animals.
To make a long story short, the last two months of having this rabbit has been an intensive learning experience – and not a cheap venture. One that most would not have had the patience for with small children in the home.
There is a certain psychology that goes along with understanding rabbits, particularly since they cannot communicate through vocal sounds like dogs and cats. You have to literally read their minds through their sometimes bold and sometimes subtle actions. Once you’ve come to understand your rabbit, they are a welcome addition to the family, but you have to first understand this takes TIME and PATIENCE. One act of frustration will set back any trust you earned to the beginning and you have to start all over again.
Needless to say, this is not the fun carefree pet any child would expect. Unless you have such a child, one who is calm, patient, has a healthy respect for animals and doesn’t get upset easily, I would suggest filling their Easter basket with a book about rabbits and a chocolate bunny with really big solid ears.
Each year, unwanted, former Easter rabbits fill local rabbit rescues and humane societies. The goal of the “Make Mine Chocolate!™” campaign is to break the cycle of acquisition and relinquishment by educating the public about the responsibilities involved in keeping a companion rabbit before a rabbit is brought home. More…
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