Guest Columnist

~ By Phyllis O’Beollain, DaytonExaminer.com

March 14, 2011: Buying a Bunny for Easter? Think Again!

Rabbits are typically associated with the Easter holiday. This is the time of year to find cute bunnies on television commercials and candy packaging, and stores are filled with chocolate rabbits and stuffed toy bunnies. Children beg their parents for a real bunny, and without doing any research on the needs of these creatures, a rabbit is brought home from the pet store.

The cute baby bunny grows up, the owner tires of the rabbit, and don’t know how to remedy certain less-than-desirable rabbit behaviors. The rabbits end up at shelters or – worse – dumped on the street to fend for themselves. Shelters and rabbit rescues are flooded with the now-unwanted rabbits in the weeks following Easter. The truly tragic cases are the rabbits that are dumped outdoors where predators, illness, and injuries guarantee suffering and early death.

In 2002, the Columbus (Ohio) House Rabbit Society began a campaign to educate the public on the realities of caring for rabbits, and to discourage giving live rabbits as Easter gifts. The campaign’s goal is to spread the message that rabbits are not to be casually acquired on impulse as well as to educate the public about the special needs of these often-fragile creatures.

Chocolate-colored ceramic pins provide the wearer opportunities to share this message with the public. Cards are available with each pin as well as business cards that can be given to interested individuals; these cards list facts that must be considered before bringing home a live rabbit.

‘Chocolate is a Treat; Rabbits are a Commitment’

  • Rabbits are NOT low-maintenance pets; rabbits require as much work as a dog or cat.
  • Rabbits belong indoors, where their territory must be rabbit-proofed.
  • Rabbits have continually-growing teeth and must chew on things constantly to keep their teeth worn down.
  • Rabbits can live 8 to 10 years or longer.
  • The necessary spay or neuter costs over $100; rabbits require routine veterinary care which can become quite expensive.
  • Rabbits are not cuddly – they can become frightened when held or when around loud noises. They are NOT good pets for children.
  • Pet rabbits cannot be set “free” — it’s a death sentence.

Consider these wonderful alternatives to live animals:

  • Brightly packaged chocolate bunnies
  • Realistic-looking toy bunnies
  • Lavishly decorated and filled Easter baskets (still MUCH cheaper than a rabbit)
  • Vibrant Easter eggs
  • Colorful spring flowers

Let’s make it a Happy Easter for bunnies, too.

Help spread the word that rabbits are NOT disposable pets.

.

Visit Phyllis’ page at the Examiner.com

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