February is Adopt-a-Rescued Rabbit month. Mary Lempert, founder and manager of The Rabbit Advocate, offers 10 reasons rescued rabbits make great pets:
1. Rabbits are the perfect pets for those who may not have time for daily walks, but still seek the social quality of a dog-like companion. And, like cats, rabbits can be litter box trained very easily.
2. Many people who are allergic to dogs and cats are not allergic to rabbits.
3. Rabbits are uniquely talented comedians. Binkies (little hop-spins and kicks they do when they’re happy) and bunny flops (flopping over and playing dead).
4. Rabbit schedules match up with people schedules. Our furry friends are most active at dawn and dusk, which corresponds well with the times most of us are starting our day or getting home from work and ready for some couch snuggling or binky watching.
5. Rabbits help you get healthy. As herbivores, rabbits mesh well with vegetarian and vegan lifestyles. Generally speaking, though, having a pet who encourages you to stock your fridge with fruits and vegetables is good for everybody—vegetarians and meat-eaters alike.
6. Rabbits make great pets for city dwellers. They happily stay in large cages or puppy pens during the day when you’re gone and love to come out to romp around in rabbit-proofed rooms when you’re home.
7. Rabbits have long lifespans compared to other small animals. They can live 10-12 years if provided with a proper diet and care.
8. Rabbits are heroic. In the wild, rabbits communicate with each other about perceived dangers by thumping their back legs; astute house bunnies will provide you with a similar security system.
9. Rabbits are great listeners (just look at those ears!). They also make excellent snugglers with their extra-soft fur and loving nature.
10. Rabbits need homes, too. Perhaps one of the best reasons to adopt a bunny is that there are so many waiting for forever homes. In fact, after dogs and cats, rabbits are the third most abundant adoptable pet, with more than 5,500 listed for adoption on www.petfinder.com
If you’re wanting to add a bunny to your family, B.U.N.S. is a wonderful organization in Santa Barbara that is looking to find homes for their rescued bunnies. B.U.N.S. was founded in 1992 when a woman named Dorothy Diehl came to Santa Barbara looking to adopt an Angora rabbit. Instead, Dorothy found adoptable rabbits at a shelter in conditions that weren’t up to par. She ended up volunteering to improve those conditions and recruited seven volunteers, one for each day of the week. There are now close to 30 volunteers that run the organization. B.U.N.S. also gets assistance from Girl Scout Troops and the mothers and daughters of the National Charities League. B.U.N.S. is always looking for more volunteers to help out.
B.U.N.S. has a major fundraiser each year in September, called the “Bunny Festival,” which helps support their cause. The Bunny Festival includes a silent auction, a bake sale, children’s activities, vendors, rabbit Olympics, an animal communicator, veterinarians, and rabbit photos. Here are some great videos from previous festivals.
It should be noted that rabbits aren’t for everyone. They’re not a “starter pet” for children as most people think. A child will not be able to be the sole caretaker of the bunny; adult supervision and assistance is required. Your house will require bunny-proofing and some rabbits will need to be litter box trained if they aren’t already. Rabbits are susceptible to hairballs and they can’t cough it up (like cats do) so they have to be brushed frequently. Everyday bunnies require monitoring and room to run and jump. And a bunny needs more than just rabbit pellets to survive—fresh vegetables, grass and hay are also needed on a daily basis. Make sure you are ready for a lifetime commitment when you adopt a rabbit as some rabbits can live past 10 years.
B.U.N.S. offers nail trimming for rabbits and guinea pig nails for just $5. They also teach the basics of operant conditioning in a hands-on workshop using shelter rabbits and guinea pigs. You can teach your rabbit or guinea pig to touch a target, learn to shape a turn and sit up. For more information on rabbit or guinea pig training, call (805) 683-0521.
If you love rabbits, but can’t give one a permanent home, B.U.N.S. is always in need of volunteers at the shelter and there are a lot of different ways you can make a difference. You can volunteer at the shelter taking care of the stray and abandoned bunnies that are waiting for a home. B.U.N.S. also needs volunteers to help shuttle bunnies to and from the vet for spay and neuter. B.U.N.S. asks that children under the age of 18 come accompanied by a responsible adult.
If you think you’re ready to share your life with a bunny, before you shop, please adopt! Pet stores often get their bunnies from “bunny mills” where rabbits are continuously bred and babies are weaned at a very early age. With all the homeless rabbits waiting for permanent homes, it doesn’t make sense to breed them. Kudos to Petco for discontinuing their sale of rabbits! Petco now only showcases shelter rabbits.
B.U.N.S. is open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 4:45 p.m. and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. They’re located at 5473 Overpass Road in Santa Barbara. They currently have close to 40 bunnies and 20 guinea pigs up for adoption. For more information, visit www.bunssb.org.
If you think a bunny is right for your family, hop on down to B.U.N.S. today!