Rescue readies for returned rabbits

A local rabbit shelter prepares to take on more than a basket of bunnies.

Rabbit Haven, a rabbit shelter in Gig Harbor, says that every year after Easter, “Easter bunnies” are either abandoned or die from mishandling and improper care — a time dubbed as “TED,” or “Typical Easter Dump.”

Because of this trend, Sue Brennan, the founder and Board Chair of Rabbit Haven, is reaching out and urging people to turn to candy, chocolate, or toys instead of bunnies that quickly outstay their short sighted welcome.

“I just turned down a lady who wanted to get a rabbit for her three-year-old. I’m not going to put a rabbit through the stress of a new home just for them to bring the rabbit right back,” said Brennan.

After Easter passes, new rabbit owners tend to flock to the rescues to give up the rabbits that were purchased. Brennan says that four out of five rabbits bought for Easter are abandoned or die from mishandling and improper care.

“People don’t realize that a pet rabbit is just like a pet dog, they need attention and care along with a lot of space,” said Brennan.

Rabbit Haven is a nonprofit animal rescue that shelters and feeds bunnies without a place to live. Their goals are supported by the non-profit’s mission statement: “to rescue and adopt out unwanted domestic rabbits and to educate the public about proper care and handling of domestic rabbits.” Or as Rabbit Haven’s website states it, find a “home for every bunny.” They do this by looking for forever homes, providing shelter and love. Bunnies adopted out of Rabbit Haven are spayed and neutered to help combat the over reproduction of pet rabbits. They also aim to educate the general public about rabbits and the proper care of these pets through ongoing education and outreach programs.

Brennan says that education also includes how to handle a rabbit when the new owner gets it home.

“Given the proper care, rabbits can live 10 to 15 years and are a lot of responsibility,” said Brennan.

While Easter isn’t a recommended time to buy a rabbit, Rabbit Haven would love to find forever homes for all of their guests. Adopting from Rabbit Haven is an ongoing relationship, as they offer lifetime support and education on the proper care of adopted pets.

“Within the past 30 years we have saved [an estimated] 7,500 rabbits. It really feels like we are making a difference.”

Let’s hope that this Easter, the “TED” numbers are much lower than that.