I was attacked last week! Fortunately, it was just with an email. The topic was about our recent partnership with Pet Smart to house and adopt out our rabbits. Sifting through the venom and barbs I could tell that the writer was just concerned about the welfare of the bunnies and I can appreciate that. I would like to respond to some of her concerns and share with all of you why we started this partnership.
One concern was that the rabbits were there so close to Easter and she wondered about the quality of adoptions that might happen around this time. This is a long-standing myth, just like black cats and Halloween. We have years of statistics to show that there is no increase in surrendering of rabbits in the days or weeks following Easter. Way back before the 80s it used to be commonplace for businesses to give away baby bunnies and brightly dyed baby chicks as an Easter sales promotion and those poor baby animals typically lived short, stressful lives or were surrendered to shelters or worse, abandoned. It is illegal for businesses to do that now and yet for years we denied rabbits the opportunity to be adopted into legitimate loving homes because of this myth.
Let’s face it, if someone wants a rabbit for Easter they certainly don’t have to come to the shelter (or Pet Smart, that operates as our agent) where, for starters, they aren’t going to find a large selection of babies. We mostly have adult bunnies of uncertain breed or age. Then they have to complete an application, show their driver’s license, sign a contract and pay $40. How much easier to just go to a feed store or cruise the internet for a much cheaper baby. The person who does come to the shelter or Pet Smart not only gets an earful of education, they walk away with a packet of care handouts including a list of rabbit-savvy veterinarians and website resources, as well as an invite to our monthly bunny day (lured with the promise of free nail trims) as a way to keep the conversation going. Everyone who adopts from us, as well as the general public, will also get an invitation to the upcoming BUNFEST, a celebration of everything rabbit, happening Sunday, April 29. Check out www.sonomacountybunfest.org for details. We want to be a resource and support people who adopt our rabbits!
And those who adopt through us get a rabbit that is microchipped and fixed so that even if worse case scenario happens and the bunny gets loose, she has a chance to be returned and won’t be picked up pregnant! We know that is not happening with the rabbits that come from other sources and that’s our competition, so we have to try harder to get our rabbits into homes. Partnering with Pet Smart is one way to do that. There are people who, for a variety of reasons, won’t come to an animal shelter. Bringing our adoptables to other locations allows us to reach a new segment of the population.
When we talked to Pet Smart about this arrangement they allowed us to train their staff regarding our adoption criteria, rabbit handling and care and their need for exercise. We figured out the best place for them to set up an ex-pen for 1-2 hours of daily playtime and got reassurances that they would be in good hands. We have kept a close dialogue going and if a rabbit seems stressed or has been there too long, we bring them back and give another bunny an opportunity to go. So far, they have adopted out more than six rabbits and we couldn’t be happier! Yes, in some ways it’s about the numbers. It does no one any good to just sit on adoptable animals waiting for perfect homes to come along. Who decides what is perfect anyway? Everyone starts someplace and our job is to screen out truly inappropriate placements and then give support and information to help people take the best care possible of their new friend.
Some of our best rabbit volunteers are people we took a chance on and adopted a first rabbit to them. It’s wonderful to see the bond grow and now they are actively sharing their passion with others. I would invite the letter writer to join us and turn her concern into action by helping the rabbits in the shelter. We could always use another experienced bunny volunteer!
No More Lost Pets – free microchips and pet ID tags for residents of Rohnert Park and Cotati City. Stop by the shelter during our open hours with your pet to get one! The shelter is open Wed 1-6:30 p.m., Thurs.-Fri-Sat 1-5:30 p.m. and Sun 1-4:30 p.m.
Fix-it Clinics – Free spay and neuters for cats; and $60 dog surgeries (up to 80 lbs.) for low-income Rohnert Park and Cotati residents. Call 588-3531 for an appointment.
Mickey Zeldes is the supervisor at the Rohnert Park Animal Shelter. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.