You know, it seems like I’ve been asked this question a lot lately. Why did I choose pet rabbits? Why do I choose to help rescue rabbits? They’re a lot of work. They take up a lot of my time. People see them as “children’s pets”. You can get one for $15. Why not just get a dog or a cat? Yes, I’ve heard it all. If you’ve never had a pet rabbit (really had a pet rabbit – not one confined to an outdoor hutch), the answer is difficult to put into words.
I don’t know what it was at the moment I laid eyes on the bunny that was to become Zoie, my first rabbit. I was in a pet store, and there were all these cute baby bunnies running around. My eyes just locked in on him. I knew that he was mine. I don’t know why. There was just something about him. Some little girl asked the pet store worker if she could hold him, and I watched in agony. I was terrified that the little girl would take him home. He was MY rabbit!! Well, obviously the little girl didn’t take him. Yes, my first bunny was an impulse pet store purchase, which makes me cringe now, but Zoie is the one that started it all.
I muddled through learning proper rabbit care via the internet and a rabbit-savvy vet. I learned that Zoie’s cage was too small. I learned he needed to be neutered. I got a crash course in nursing a sick bunny. My poor Zoie was very acquainted with the vet. Despite everything he went through, his sweet, trusting spirit remained. He fought so hard through so many illnesses, and when he finally couldn’t fight any more, I was devastated.
All of my bunnies since Zoie have been rescues. Chloe languished in an outdoor hutch for two years in the hot Florida sun. Milhouse was dumped in a park, where he was attacked by predators, and miraculously survived. Kahlua was my lucky bun. He was born at the rescue. It is mind-boggling to me that someone, at some point, didn’t want them. If you’ve never had a house rabbit, you don’t know the joy of seeing a former hutch bunny do a binky for the first time. You’ve never experienced the happy leap of your heart when a timid bunny nose bonks you for pets for the first time. You’ve never seen a neglected bunny toss a toy for the first time, or a malnourished bunny eat hay for the first time. I can’t describe what it’s like. It’s one of the most satisfying feelings on the face of the earth. If you’ve never had house rabbits, you don’t know how funny they are – believe me, rabbits have a sense of humor! They continually make me laugh. You’ve never seen the intelligence in their eyes. Rabbits are smart – some more than others, but they’ve all got it. You’ve never had a bunny comfort you when you’re down. I’ve had days when I just sit tearfully in the middle of the floor, and my bunnies always come running over, as if to ask, “What’s wrong?” They proceed to nose bonk me until I crack a smile. This is why I have rabbits as pets.
Why do I concern myself with rescuing rabbits? There are so few people in this world who even care what becomes of rabbits. To most, they are disposable children’s pets. Dogs and cats have a huge following, which is wonderful, but bunnies need a voice too. Have you ever seen a bunny with nails so long they have completely curled around? Teeth so neglected they have turned into tusks? Bunnies so emaciated that it’s amazing they’re still breathing? Have you seen botflies, ear mite infestations so bad the ears fell down, broken bones, fly strike, or rabbits so riddled with reproductive cancer they must be put down? To me, it’s astonishing that these bunnies keep fighting. Even at death’s door, they will still have that spark in their eyes – that will that says, “I want to live. I want to be loved. I deserve to be wanted. Help me.” That is why I fight for them.
I have to listen to people’s cruel comments – from the intentionally awful comments to the completely ignorant ones. “I love rabbits – they taste like chicken!” “I used to have a bunny. It got out one day and the dog ripped it apart.” “Whatever happened to that bunny we used to have?” I cringe when I hear these – and believe me, rabbit rescuers hear them on almost a daily basis. It is shocking to me how little people care. Rabbits are treated in ways that would absolutely outrage people were they dogs or cats. Rabbits are still classified as poultry, which means they are exempt from even being humanely slaughtered. So yes, I will keep loving and keep fighting for these amazing, intelligent, hilarious, strong creatures.
Why not rabbits?
In memory of Zoie...the one who started it all (2002-2008)