April 6, 2012 8:09 am

Pet rabbits purchased at Easter often abandoned by families, animal rescue groups say


TORONTO – They’re cute and fluffy and they make great Easter gifts for kids.

But animal rights groups are warning parents to stay away from buying pet rabbits as an Easter novelty, because a few weeks later, the small animals typically end up abandoned.

“We try hard to educate that rabbits are not toys, they should not be given as gifts – particularly for small children,” Haviva Lush, executive director of Rabbit Rescue, told Global News.

The Ontario organization helps local SPCAs and humane societies with large-scale rescues of rabbits.

“We are busy year round but several months after Easter, we absolutely have an increased number of individuals needing to surrender their rabbits. It’s the same story every time,” Lush said.

She said parents – and often grandparents – buy the pets as an Easter treat to accompany a basket full of chocolate eggs but once the rabbit grows up, the kids lose interest.

“Parents want the rabbit out. The summer gets quite busy with former Easter bunnies needing new homes. Stuffed and chocolate rabbits should be the only ones purchased at Easter,” she said.

In British Columbia, the SPCA warned that rabbits are taking over some local parks.

“The abandonment of rabbits is a huge welfare issue. People think, ‘Well, I’m dropping off fluffy in a nice park and fluffy will live a great life.’ That’s simply not the reality,” Marcie Moriarty of the B.C. SPCA told News 1130 in Delta.

Even PETA – People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals – has issued its advice to parents.

The organization warns that the fluffy pets are skittish and anti-social.

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