To the editor of THE EAGLE:

Easter is Sunday and many people are impulsively tempted to buy one of those cute baby Easter bunnies that may appear in a pet store or through an advertiser or breeder. If bought for a child, unless the child is older than 12 years and is very responsible, a toy stuffed bunny or a chocolate one in an Easter basket would make a much better gift.

Rabbits live 10 to 12 years. Will the child still care for the rabbit after the novelty wears off? Or will this rabbit spend this summer and beyond abandoned in a backyard hutch where he/she eventually will die alone? Like dogs and cats, rabbits are social animals and need daily interactions with their human owners.

Every year, within weeks or months after Easter, thousands of rabbits are surrendered at animal shelters and rabbit rescues across the country or worse, released into the wild where pet rabbits, unlike their wild relatives, cannot fend for themselves. The domesticated rabbit wouldn’t survive but a day or two and eventually would be killed by a predator.

Rabbits make great pets provided their owner accepts them on their own terms and is patient with them. They need a safe and loving environment in a home as companion animals, not in an outdoor hutch. Older rabbits in shelters have little chance of being adopted because most people mistakenly want a baby rabbit. This is unfortunate because older rabbits make the best pets. They are more tolerant of children and have reached their affectionate, sweet and gentle adult personality, which has made them the third most popular pet in the United States.

Save a life and don’t buy an Easter bunny, adopt. If a person must have a rabbit, rescue a spayed/neutered rabbit from a local animal shelter or from a rabbit rescue group. There are so many that need good homes. A listing of available rabbits nearby is found at www.petfinder.org or through an online search of animal shelters/rabbit rescue groups in Massachusetts where you might even qualify to do fostering of rescued rabbits. Anything and everything you need to know about owning and caring for a wonderful house rabbit as a unique lovable pet can be found at www.rabbit.org

Please consider the long life of care of a rabbit before buying him/her as an Easter gift and consider these things as well: 1) Don’t get a bunny (or any pet) without doing your homework first; (2) Consider giving plush or chocolate bunnies as gifts instead; and (3) Why not dress up your own existing animals or yourself as bunnies which can be adorable, hilarious, or both. A happy, safe humane Easter to all.

CLAIRE BOSMA

Pittsfield