In just a few days, children will wake up on Easter morning to baskets filled with treats and treasures. Unfortunately, some of those baskets will also have living treasures - bunnies and chicks!
Why do I say "unfortunately"?
First, I don't think pets should ever be given as gifts, and especially not to children. Pets should be added to families after careful consideration and planning by every member of the family. And children should never be expected to take care of pets - it's not fair to them or to the pets.
Second, most people who give bunnies and chicks as Easter presents don't know anything about them. They are highly social animals that need daily interaction and exercise. They will often get depressed and develop health or behavioral issues if they are locked away in a cage in a basement or outside.
By the end of April, our local shelters will be overflowing with bunnies and chicks. And many more of these Easter pets will try desperately to survive life in the wild, where many are dumped by owners whose children have already lost interest. Many of the pets who end up at the shelter will be euthanized because of lack of space to care for them. And all of those that are abandoned outside will die from starvation, injury or at the hands of cruel people. Some estimates suggest that 95 percent of bunnies and chicks given as Easter presents won't live to their first birthday. The life of an Easter bunny or chick is rarely a happy ending.
One of AARF's board members and volunteers, Leslie, also volunteers with rabbit rescue and education. She says:
Rabbits are very sensitive and highly social creatures who do more than hop around and look cute. They become part of a family. And while they clean themselves and use a litter box, they are more labor intensive than one might think.That said, I've been a rabbit mom for 20 years and continue to be charmed by these creatures -- some quiet and sweet, some true characters. Bottom line: if you can't take a rabbit into your family and into your heart as you would any other pet, my suggestion -- and the motto of many rabbit rescue groups is -- "choose chocolate." Who doesn't love a tasty chocolate treat? Or maybe even a colorful stuffed bunny to decorate a child's bedroom that they can snuggle with at night. If you want a real, live rabbit, learn more about them first. They shouldn't be an impulse buy. No animal should.
If you are interested in adopting or fostering a bunny, learn more at the Georgia House Rabbit Society here.