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The Easter Bunny is Not a Pet

April 22, 2011

HARRISBURG, Pa. – Pennsylvania parents take note: Don't give children pets for Easter. That's the message from the Humane Society each year around this time. Adam Goldfarb, director of the Humane Society's "Pets at Risk" Program, says people generally are getting the message about pets with two feet – but not bunnies.

"We don't see an issue as much with the chicks and the baby ducks as we used to, but it's definitely still an issue with the rabbits."

Animal welfare experts say rabbits aren't as docile as they look, and they may even bite. So, while parents think they might be fulfilling a young child's dream of owning a cuddly bunny, Goldfarb says there's a definite downside.

"They might have a very 'cute' Easter – but unfortunately, the novelty of having a rabbit and the reality of caring for them long-term, kind-of wears off."

He urges parents to do some research so they have a realistic idea of what to expect if they decide to have a rabbit join the family. Some consider them "high-maintenance" pets, and they often live more than ten years.

Pennsylvania's Bureau of Wildlife Management says it gets reports of people releasing these live Easter "gifts" in public parks, state forests or state game lands after parents and children grow tired of caring for them. While owners may think they're "freeing" their pets, the domesticated animals stand little or no chance of survival and can cause damage to the natural environment, according to the Bureau.

Tom Joseph, Public News Service - PA