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

PHOTO: Bunnies are a symbol of the season, but animal shelter personnel 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 animal shelter personnel 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 17, 2014

PHOENIX – Easter is almost upon us, and while some parents might be tempted to give their children live bunnies or baby chicks, animal shelter personnel stress that bringing any animal into the home should be a well thought-out decision and not just a holiday whim.

Bretta Nelson, public relations manager of the Arizona Humane Society, says a bunny can be an excellent pet, but caring for one can be a lot harder than caring for a cat or a dog.

"They do require a lot of work and, you know, you need to house proof and make sure that you have the right setup for them,” she points out. “And they need exercise. And there's specialty food that they would need. But at the same time, they make excellent pets."

Nelson adds it isn't fair to animals to treat them simply as cute holiday decorations, and that people need to realize they are making a commitment for the life of the animal.

Nelson says many people overlook the fact that baby chicks will eventually grow into hens and roosters, which are not even allowed as pets in many Arizona locations.

"Chicks will definitely grow and become bigger and need their space, and is an apartment the best set-up for that?” she says. “I mean, only really that person knows."

When it comes to rabbits, Nelson says it's important to know they can live a long time.

She says it is not realistic to expect a young child to be the primary caretaker of any animal, so parents need to accept that the responsibility may fall on them for many years.

"Rabbits have a lifespan, I've seen, anywhere from eight to 10 years, nine to 12 years,” Nelson says. “So unlike a rat or a hamster, guinea pig, I mean, you're really in it for the long haul."

Nelson suggests parents considering a rabbit give their children a stuffed one for Easter, or perhaps an animal shelter gift card, and then make an appointment with their local shelter to discuss the options after the holiday.

"Maybe utilize that Critter Credit gift card or come down as a family, meet the bunny all together,” she advises. “We will provide support, not only when you're here in the shelter, but even after you've left."

Nelson believes people are getting smarter about pets as holiday gifts because animal shelters are seeing fewer such pets dropped off in the weeks following holidays such as Easter.


Doug Ramsey, Public News Service - AZ