‘Don’t give rabbits as gifts for Easter,’ animal rights advocates urge

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Animal advocates warn about gifting rabbits for Easter
With Easter just around the corner, animal rights advocates are once again warning the public to think carefully before giving rabbits as pets. They point out that too many families are influenced by the animal's cute charm and don't realize the commitment needed to care for them. As a result, too many get abandoned in the wild and end up suffering. Phil carpenter has more – Mar 23, 2024

With Easter just around the corner, animal rights advocates are again warning the public to think carefully before giving rabbits as pets.

That means rabbits like Huey who was rescued in the bush south of Montreal in February by volunteers. That was his first stroke of luck.

“He was part of a colony in Ormstown,” explains Côte-des-Neiges resident Emma Bryans. “It was the second colony that we had responded to in Ormstown.”

She’s now fostering Huey and will eventually adopt him — his second stroke of luck. Bryans volunteers with the group Sauvetage Lapins Errants. They’ve made it their mission to save rabbits. According to group co-founder Kristina Tellier, they’ve rescued 300 abandoned rabbits in the last three years, and the number is growing.

“We’re seeing an increase after Easter, we’re seeing an increase in summer when people go on vacation,” she tells Global News from SPCA Roussillon in Delson, south of Montreal. She was hosting an information session for the public about how to care for rabbits.

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She points out that one outcome of abandoning the animals is what happened to a grey rabbit in a cage at the SPCA, who wasn’t as lucky as Huey. Mickey, as his rescuers now call him, was found outdoors last week. He has severe infection from ear mites so his head is tilted to one side. That affliction, according to one SPCA official, could be permanent.

“This is something that shouldn’t be,” Tellier laments.

According to her, the problem starts with people getting bunny rabbits for Easter, because families find the animals cute, without knowing how to care for them.

“You need an enclosure, they need to have unlimited hay, they need to have vegetables every day, and varied vegetables, not just carrots because it’s too high in sugar,” she stresses.

Bryans has a whole bedroom for Huey, as well as Poppy, another rabbit she’s had since last year. She cautions that they aren’t easy pets to care for.

“A rabbit requires a specialized vet care – exotic pet care – which is more expensive than the standard vet,” she tells Global News while entertaining her two rabbits with toys in her apartment.

Advocates say people end up dumping the animals outdoors when they find out how tough it is to care for them, which is a problem.

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“Because they are domestic breeds,” Jessica Zerebecki points out. They are not meant to live outdoors.”

They suffer greatly, she adds, urging people to do proper research before getting rabbits as pets.

“Look into things, come see us or reach out to us if you have questions to really make sure that you’re prepared when adopting a rabbit,” she advises.

All of that is meant to help ensure other rabbits don’t suffer the same misfortune as Mickey.


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