PITTSFIELD -- As Easter hops closer, the Berkshire Humane Society is discouraging people from buying bunny rabbits as surprise Easter gifts, particularly for children.
An edible, chocolate bunny rabbit --which requires less time commitment and maintenance -- might be the more appropriate surprise gift, since rabbits are already the third-most frequent animals surrendered to animal shelters, according to the Humane Society of the United States. And that number only increases in the months following Easter, which this year occurs on March 31.
"We find that they're well-received at the beginning, then children become bored with them," said Erin Starsja, the feline and small animal supervisor at the Berkshire Humane Society on Barker Road. "Rabbits are very social creatures. As they're forgotten about, they become less social."
Starsja said that the whole family should become acquainted with a pet rabbit before buying or adopting it so the duties of caring for it won't fall on just one person, particularly the child it is supposed to be a surprise for.
"They're not necessarily a bad idea as a gift, just not a good idea as a surprise," Starsja said.
That's not to say the Berkshire Humane Society won't give their rabbits away around Easter.
There are currently two rabbits available at the Berkshire Humane Society, and four more are on a wait list once space in the small-animal center of the humane society becomes available.
He said that the number of bunny rabbits surrendered to the Berkshire Humane Society shortly after Easter has decreased because of the education against spontaneously gifting a rabbit. Also, pet rabbits are not very accessible in the Berkshires anymore -- Petco in Pittsfield does not carry them. Fin and Feather, also in Pittsfield, orders them but does not carry them in the store, an employee said.
For more than a decade, the Make Mine Chocolate mission has been a national front-runner in the educational process to encourage people to buy the fluffy plush rabbits or sweet rabbit-shaped candies that are available during the Easter season. The Make Mine Chocolate mission's list of partners throughout the country is exhaustive.
"Years ago, giving rabbits as Easter gifts was a big thing," Perreault said. "Not so much anymore."
To reach Adam Poulisse:
or (413) 496-6214.
On Twitter: @BE_Poulisse