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Parents: Stick With Stuffed or Candy Bunnies and Chicks for Easter

PHOTO: Bunnies are a symbol of the season, but experts caution parents considering bringing one home for Easter to make a thoughtful decision that is best for the animal and the family. Photo credit: morguefile.com user bobby.
PHOTO: Bunnies are a symbol of the season, but experts caution parents considering bringing one home for Easter to make a thoughtful decision that is best for the animal and the family. Photo credit: morguefile.com user bobby.
April 16, 2014

UNION, Mo. - Easter is almost upon us, and while some parents might be tempted to give their kids live bunnies or baby chicks, an animal-rescue expert says bringing any animal into the home should be a well thought-out decision and not just a holiday whim.

While rabbits can make great pets, said Amanda Mullen, director of Longmeadow Rescue Ranch, they are a long-term family commitment.

"They need a certain-size pen and a large crate. They have to have a litter box and a feeder, a water bottle, toys to play with," she said. "Your home should be bunny-proofed because you want to be able to let them out to get some exercise and socialization."

Mullen said chickens and ducks are considered farm animals and are not allowed as pets in some areas. She suggested that parents consider getting children a gift certificate to the Humane Society or a local shelter for Easter, or sponsoring a "barn buddy" at Longmeadow Rescue Ranch. They can visit and learn to care for their "buddy" at the ranch.

It simply isn't fair to animals when people treat them like holiday decorations instead of as new members of the family, Mullen said. Every year, she said, Longmeadow Ranch takes in chicks and ducks that people have abandoned after Easter.

"They just think they can put them out on a park and that they'll be able to survive, and they don't," she said. "They're domestic animals. They don't know how to get away from predators. Most domestic breeds of ducks can't fly so they really don't have the defenses that wild ducks do."

When it comes to rabbits, she said, it's important to know they can live upwards of 10 years. She said it is not realistic to expect a child younger than 12 to be the primary caretaker of any animal, so parents need to accept that the responsibility may fall on them for many years.

Mona Shand, Public News Service - MO