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Chocolate Bunnies Make Better Easter Gifts Than Live Ones



April 22, 2011

GOLDEN VALLEY, Minn. – The Easter bunny is not a pet, and live rabbits should not be given as gifts. That's the message from the Animal Humane Society. Spokesperson Deb Balzer says rabbits are the third most commonly surrendered animal, behind cats and dogs - and this time of year is when they start seeing an influx of unwanted bunnies. Her advice is to resist the urge or impulse to give live animals, like baby rabbits or chicks, to children as gifts.

"That novelty's going to wear off, and that animal is not necessarily going to be the companion or the pet that they thought. So, what happens is those animals are unwanted and will end up likely at a shelter's door."

The Animal Humane Society urges families to thoroughly research which type of pet would best suit their lifestyle, consider the time and money required to properly care for the animal, and make sure all family members agree with the pet choice before adopting.

Sometimes when families don't know what to do with an unwanted bunny, they try to release them outside. However, Balzer says domestic rabbits are bred to be pets and cannot survive on their own.

"They don't have the ability to adapt, especially in the cold weather. If you're not able to care for your rabbit anymore, please surrender it to a shelter – please, do not abandon your pet rabbits out into the wild. They will not survive without our help."

Likewise, wild rabbits are not suitable pets, and should not be captured or brought inside. Last year, says Balzer, her organization took in more than 1,000 rabbits, many of which were supposedly "rescued" by well-intentioned people who came across a nest of babies they thought were abandoned.

"What's really going on is, the mother is nearby, but they're not always with the nest. Then what happens is that basically, we're kidnapping those bunnies and bringing them in for help. Most of the time those nests are just fine, and they're not orphaned at all."

For those concerned about the baby bunnies, Balzer's advice is to watch the nest for a day or two to see if the mama rabbit comes home. The group's website, animalhumanesociety.org, contains more information on what to do about injured or orphaned wildlife.

And for folks who already have pets, Balzer offers the following tips to prevent an emergency trip to the vet this weekend:

"Enjoy your holiday, but make sure it's safe for your pets too, by ensuring that your candy is up, Easter grass is up, and also be careful of your Easter lilies, because they can be toxic to cats if ingested."

Sharon Rolenc, Public News Service - MN