As pets, rabbits are a big responsibility
To the editor:
At Easter many people are impulsively tempted to buy a cute baby bunny that may appear in a pet store or through an advertiser or breeder. If bought for a child, unless the child is older than 10 years and is very responsible, a toy stuffed bunny or a chocolate one in an Easter basket would make a much better gift.
Rabbit ownership must always be researched first. Rabbits can live 10 years or more, which translates to at least a 10-year commitment on the owner's part, in no way different than the commitment you would make to a dog, cat, bird, etc. They make wonderful indoor house pets, can be trained to use a litter box, interact with their humans in playful, entertaining ways and are a joy to behold.
However, once the novelty wears off and it is soon realized that caring for a pet rabbit is work, thousands will be abandoned, neglected or released into the wild where a domesticated rabbit cannot survive but a day or two, if lucky. Some will be surrendered to local animal shelters or rescues, which may already be overloaded and have too many to adopt out due to the huge numbers arriving two to three weeks or months following Easter. Sadly, 80 percent of all rabbits purchased at Easter die or are euthanized before they are one year old.
If a sweet, gentle rabbit is truly wanted as a pet, please, save a life and don't buy a bunny, adopt one, preferably after Easter. Rescued rabbits have already been spayed or neutered, which extends their life span. They will have had a health check from a qualified veterinarian, which amounts to a considerable cost savings.
There are so many wonderful rabbits that need good indoor homes and you can find a listing at www.petfinder.org or pay a visit to our local shelter at Berkshire Humane Society. Everything you need to know about owning and caring for a house rabbit as a unique lovable pet can be found at www.rabbit.org, which is the website for the National House Rabbit Society.
Please consider the long life of care of a rabbit before buying one as an Easter gift, do your homework first and always look into adoption as a first choice. Consider giving plush bunny toys or chocolate bunnies as gifts instead.
A real rabbit is not a toy. It needs daily attention, habitat cleaning and exercise, it will need fresh hay, greens and healthy vegetables and will depend on you for the next 10 years. A chocolate bunny lasts 10 minutes. Think about it.
Claire Bosma, Pittsfield