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A Hare-Brained Idea? Groups Urge Against Easter Bunnies as Pets

Nearly four out of five bunnies given as Easter gifts are abandoned or die in less than a year. (Troy Trolley/Flickr)
Nearly four out of five bunnies given as Easter gifts are abandoned or die in less than a year. (Troy Trolley/Flickr)
April 12, 2017

COLUMBUS, Ohio - A real, live bunny may seem like a cute, cuddly Easter gift for child, but animal-welfare groups are cautioning Ohioans to stick to the chocolate ones.

The Columbus House Rabbit Society rescues unwanted domestic rabbits and began the "Make Mine Chocolate" campaign 15 years ago. The campaign's co-founder, Susan Mangold, said it started as a way to reduce the number of rabbits coming into their care, especially those made as an impulse purchase.

"They go into a pet store around Easter," she said, "and there are these adorable little baby bunnies, and who can resist a baby anything? The reality is, rabbits can live eight to 10 years or longer. They're a much more demanding, more high-maintenance pet than most people understand."

After Easter, Mangold said, local animal-rescue groups often are inundated with rabbits whose owners decide they don't want them. Her message, she said, is that animals aren't disposable, and she recommended that Ohioans stick to chocolate bunnies.

Kim Banks, a volunteer with Ohio House Rabbit Rescue, said any pet purchase always should come after careful research and consideration. She recommended that folks go online, speak to someone who owns a rabbit, or come to them for assistance.

"We try to help people, give them the information they need to decide if a rabbit is the right fit for your family," he said. "Usually, the myth with Easter is that they're for children, and they're really not a children's pet."

If the new owner of a bunny is struggling, Mangold said, a local rabbit-rescue organization can help by either offering support so the animal can stay in the home or locating a foster family.

"Certainly, they need to reach out and see if they can get some assistance," she said. "The absolute last thing they want to do is dump the animal outside. That is a certain death, because a domestic rabbit is completely unprepared to look after itself in the wild."

Mangold said an estimated four out of every five bunnies given as Easter gifts are abandoned or die in less than a year.

Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service - OH