Grocery store shelves are lined with chocolate bunnies waiting to be nibbled, ears first. Easter is around the corner. To animal shelters, this brings a heightened interest in bunnies. This year, we’ve noticed a disturbing trend. Since pet stores have mostly stopped selling rabbits, the void’s been filled with rabbit breeders advertising on Craigslist and social media. Their current specialty appears to be small white rabbits with blue eyes and lion head fur, though they are also selling many other types, including always popular dwarf rabbits. And, as we could have predicted, we’ve seen an unusual number of blue-eyed rabbits surrendered to our shelter, something that had been extremely rare. They are getting dumped for the same reason as before, when pet store sales were big: impulse buys and unrealistic expectations stemming from a lack of education. When the novelty wears off, the bunnies get dumped at a shelter. One of our volunteers was in a major pet store chain’s checkout line, directly behind someone with a cart load of rabbit supplies. The person asked her if she knew anything about rabbits. This person just bought a rabbit from a breeder; she handed over a check, got the bunny, but no information about rabbit care, diet, housing, handling or socialization. She didn’t know rabbits, for example, can be litterbox trained or need hay as part of their diet. Animal advocates had a hand in the discontinuation of pet store sales, but the “kitchen breeders” have moved in. Please know that PHS/SPCA, other shelters and bunny rescue groups like House Rabbit Society have many great rabbits awaiting adoption. Paying a breeder is no guarantee of anything special. In fact, it is often the opposite for families and bunnies. The only person who wins is the one who takes your cash or check. When you adopt, you’re set up for success; collecting an adoption fee is secondary to making good, lasting matches.
Scott oversees PHS/SPCA’s Adoption, Behavior and Training, Education, Outreach, Field Services, Cruelty Investigation, Volunteer and Media/PR program areas and staff from the new Tom and Annette Lantos Center for Compassion.