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Think twice before buying pets for children at Easter, says SPCA

WATCH ABOVE: The SPCA is warning families to not buy rabbits or chicks for Easter celebrations because they are often abandoned. Global’s Billy Shields has more.

MONTREAL – Rabbits and chicks may seem like a good Easter gift – they’re small, cute and kids love them.

But the Montreal SPCA is strongly urging families to think long and hard before buying pets for their children during the Easter season.

The SPCA has even noticed a new – it says, disturbing – trend this year.

“People are even going to the pet store to rent chicks and ducklings,” explained Anita Kapuscinska, a spokesperson with the SPCA.

“They return them to the store and they get shipped off to a farm after.”

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Though they’re small, these animals often require a lot of attention – and their habitats have to be frequently maintained.

Kapuscinska points out rabbits are an independent bunch and contrary to popular belief, don’t like to be held by people.

“Approximately 80 percent of the rabbits that come through the SPCA are gifts given up at Easter time,” she said.

The reasons?

“I didn’t realize they were going to live this long. We didn’t realize how much commitment they require. Our bunny is a lot more active than we thought.”

Every year, the SPCA receives around 250 rabbits from families who decide they no longer wanted to take care of an animal.

“This isn’t something we should be teaching our children,” said Kapuscinska.

“They are such delicate animals – they’re not toys.”

Lola Bourget knows the struggle all too well.

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She runs a west island shelter for guinea pigs, but occasionally takes bunnies too.

“It’s very true in a pet store situation,” she told Global News.

“You have impulse buying and the proper information isn’t given to people when they go to make a purchase.”

There are some places in the city that are trying to help Bourget and the SPCA.

Westmount’s greenhouse on Sherbrooke street plays host to half a dozen rabbits during Easter time so kids can see the animals up close.

“It’s great,” said Sari Tsuji, a parent.

“She’s got stuffed animals. And now she’s seeing the real thing.”

It’s a move that offers families a chance to see Easter wildlife without having to be responsible for the pets later on.

“Bunnies are a ten year commitment. So you definitely have to be committed for the long-term,” said Kapuscinska.