My family supports our local animal shelter as often as we can. We’ve adopted several animals from the shelter over the years (five out of six of our cats, a dog and even a hamster). Whenever possible we donate food, blankets, cleaning supplies and money. We make a point of visiting the shelter often (usually 1-2 times a month) just to talk with the animals, pet them and to shower them with the love and attention that they deserve. We do all of this because we want the animals to know that someone DOES love and care about them.
Our shelter is currently gearing up for “Kitten Month” (May) when there will be a massive onslaught of kittens. The “Cat House” (where the cats are housed at the shelter) is already at maximum capacity.
Do you know what type of animal shelters across the country see A LOT of in April and May, aside from kittens? You guessed it – Bunnies!
The reason why animals shelters across the country see a tremendous amount of rabbits brought into their care is because of Easter. Well meaning parents buy cute, fuzzy little bunnies for their children as Easter gifts without REALLY taking into consideration that bunnies are living, breathing creatures that require daily care and a long term commitment. A well cared for rabbit can live up to 15 years, about the same as a dog or cat.
If you are considering giving a child a bunny as an Easter gift, or know someone who is, PLEASE consider it carefully. If you really do want to commit to giving a bunny a loving, caring home then PLEASE ADOPT. There are bunnies waiting to be adopted at a shelter near you. Sadly there will be more available after the Easter holiday.
Did you know that there are “Bunny Mills” just like there are Puppy Mills? There are people out there who breed rabbits by the hundreds just in time for Easter. Many of these mills are not fit for any living creature. Most mills keep animals in small, unkempt cages, depriving them of proper nutrition, clean water and exercise. Often they are left to die when they become sick or too old to reproduce.
Some bunny mills ship out under aged bunnies before they are fully weaned. About 20% – 30% of these bunnies die on their way to the retailer and another 20% die before they are purchased. Almost 100% of the bunnies you see being offered for sale at Easter in pet shops are supplied by commercial operations that care more about profit than the health and well being of the animals.
Rabbits are the third most frequently surrendered animal at shelters, right after cats and dogs. Another sad statistic is that a staggering 95% of all bunnies purchased at Easter are dumped within their first year as pets and most of these adorable “Easter gifts” end up, if not homeless…DEAD! Rabbits are not easy to properly care for, contrary to what pet shops may tell impulse buyers. They are entirely unsuitable as companions for young children. It’s a sad fact that many of the rabbits purchased on a whim during Easter time die within months, victims of unintentional neglect and cruelty. Others are abandoned, forced to live in tiny outdoor hutches and subjected to extreme weather, dumped off at overburdened shelters, or abandoned outdoors, where they are unable to fend for themselves and starve or are killed by predators. Rabbits that are sold in stores are domesticated and there for not fit to survive out in the “wild”.
Each year, PETA receives scores of calls of concern about the use of live animals—mainly rabbits, but sometimes ducklings and chicks—as props in Easter photo sessions. Unsuspecting parents and kids might not realize it, but the animals used in these photo sessions are generally terrified and miserable.
Rabbits are sensitive animals who are easily stressed by unfamiliar surroundings. As “prey” animals, they often panic when handled; a frightened rabbit can bite and scratch, inflicting deep lacerations and puncture wounds. Rabbits are also delicately structured animals whose spines can snap just from being held improperly.
Using live rabbits in Easter promotions can sometimes encourage impressionable children to beg their parents to get rabbits as Easter gifts too.
Instead of live animals, a great option for kids is stuffed toy animals. They’re more cost-effective for the studio, and unlike with live rabbits, homes don’t need to be found for them after the Easter season. Using stuffed toys also eliminates the need for businesses to acquire a federal exhibitor’s license from the U.S. Department of Agriculture—a requirement that PETA finds is mostly ignored by businesses that use rabbits for Easter photo shoots. Fortunately, several large companies—including Lifetouch, JCPenney, and Sears—have policies against the use of live animals as props.
The Professional Photographers of America (PPA) association, the largest nonprofit association of its kind in the world, has taken a stand against the use of live rabbits for photo shoots. Instead, PPA recommends the “Make Mine Chocolate!” campaign, which offers studios a full range of support for using large chocolate Easter bunnies wrapped in colorful foil and publicizing the promotion. PPA notes that studios can garner additional publicity by holding a post-Easter drawing for the chocolate bunny.
If you are considering giving a rabbit as an Easter gift PLEASE think long and hard about the commitment to the living, breathing creature. If you honestly cannot give it many years of love and care then please consider other options (like a plush animal instead). If you do decide to give a bunny as a gift PLEASE visit your local animal shelter before you purchase from the pet store. Or you can visit www.PetFinder.org to find rabbits waiting for adoption at a shelter near you.
*I was not asked to post this information. I posted this because I love animals and because it breaks my heart to see so many animals in the animal shelters. Any opinions expressed are my own.