Mary Huey knows all too well the tragedy of the rabbit overpopulation problem. Huey is the volunteer chairperson of the Oregon Humane Society's Rabbit Advocate Program. She sees approximately 100 to 125 unwanted rabbits come through the humane society every year. Huey believes that, "Too frequently a rabbit is an impulse purchase to satisfy a child's begging for a pet, as if it were a toy." Lack of education is why many rabbits end up at the humane society as unwanted pets.
"In the companion animal chain, many people feel that rabbits are third after dogs and cats and therefore, attach less importance to them. We are constantly fighting an uphill battle with this public assumption," states Huey. "To many of us, who know and love them, this just isn't the case." The Oregon Humane Society sponsors a Rabbit Awareness Day every year. It's no accident that this event is held just before Easter.
Baby chicks and ducks also suffer needlessly from being linked to a holiday. Though not as common as rabbits, parents often give these fuzzy feathered friends to their children for Easter as well. Their appeal as adults are less then full grown rabbits, and many end up as fast food for the neighborhood cats.
Things you should know
First off, bunny communication is subtle. Unlike cats, they can't purr to show their affection, nor can they wag their tails like dogs. You have to really look for signs that your bunny enjoys your company. Rabbits may show affection by licking you. If they rub their chin on you, they are marking you as their territory, very flattering. Teeth grinding can indicate contentment, like a cat's purr.
Rabbits are social creatures. A rabbit left outside in a hutch, for long periods of time, can often become surly or depressed. Rabbits thrive in the home, they can learn to use the litter box, get along with other animals and can become regular members of the household, much like a dog or cat.
Bunnies can, and should, be spayed and neutered. The pet overpopulation problem isn't exclusive to cats and dogs. Like other pets, rabbits are also healthier when sterilized.
General rabbit care from the House Rabbit Society
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