I wanted to share some information on a matter close to my heart today.
Six months ago, the sweetest dwarf rabbit entered my life (that’s her in the photo/meme). Her name is Yarrow, and she stole my heart from the moment I saw her. Yarrow is such a gentle, loving and playful little creature. Yes, she has a mood swings, but for the most part she is a bundle of joy who just loves hopping and bolting around, exploring her surrounds and she really loves food too. Every time I send time her, my heart centre opens up and whatever stress that I’m carrying just melts away.
So it really broke my heart when I recently discovered that this time of year seems to spark a rise in rabbit abuse and neglect.
Why and how?
Because the Easter period is synonymous with chocolate, eggs, chicks and rabbits, live bunnies come across as cute ‘low maintenance’ gifts for friends, family and kids. The truth is that that rabbits need lots of loving care (petting, massaging, clipping their nails), hatches or cages to live in, food and veterinary care too. They grow and need space to move and play around in. Since they love to chew cords, skirting boards and any wood objects, your home needs to be bunny-proofed to keep them safe and prevent damage to your furniture.
Unlike hamsters, rabbits live up to 10 years, so keeping them is a long term commitment. Under favourable circumstances where the recipients of these animal companions want and are able to care for them, they are indeed great ways to add some joy to someone’s life. But unfortunately it seems that many people don’t anticipate what raising a rabbit involves, so as soon as the novelty wears off, these poor little fellows are neglected and often dumbed in open spaces. Domesticated rabbits are vulnerable to injury, predators and disease. Left outside to fend for themselves, they are attacked by cats, dogs, owls and get run over by cars in many cases.
The thought of these gentle creatures suffering in this way makes me really sad. Humans abuse animals and Nature in so many ways. It is important that we think our actions through and be more cognizant of how they affect our animal friends and the Earth.
So if you are considering gifting someone a rabbit (or chick or duckling) this Easter, I urge you to think twice. Here are some tips to prevent the abuse and neglect of rabbits and other animal companions too:
- Do not give rabbits or animals as gifts unless you are certain they will be properly cared for: It’s best not to give someone a rabbit if they do not want it or will not be able to care for it properly. Do your research. Find out what kind of care the rabbit needs. Talk to people first before giving them one to see if they have the space, facilities and time to keep a pet rabbit.
- Don’t dump rabbits. Find them a new home: Rabbits are not toys to be cast aside when the novelty wears off. If you have a rabbit that you cannot keep or no longer want, find it a new home. There may be some kind-hearted people who are looking for new pets or who are willing to take the rabbit in. Advertise in the classifieds. Or find an animal shelter that could help.
- Hold people accountable for their actions. Report animal abuse: One way to discourage animal abuse and neglect is to ensure that perpetrators are held accountable. Talk to people about their actions and let them know that what they are doing is cruel and unkind. We all need to be considerate and behave in a responsible manner. If this doesn’t help, it may be worth reporting them to your local animal abuse authorities.
- Support animal rights groups, rescues and shelters: It’s always inspiring to know that people dedicated to making a difference. We can support them in continuing to do so by making positive contributions. Whether it’s by making a donation, volunteering your time and skills or being of services in some other way, every little bit counts.