BUNNY OWNERSHIP SHOULD BE MORE THAN A SPRING FLING

EASTER PETS, WHICH ARE OFTEN ABANDONED AFTER THE HOLIDAY, 
REQUIRE LONG TERM COMMITMENT

March 6, 2000, OAKLAND, CA -- The House Rabbit Society (HRS) strongly 
urges parents not to but their children living "Easter" bunnies unless they 
are willing to make a 10-year commitment to properly caring for the animals. 
Each year, thousands of baby rabbits, chicks, and ducks are purchased as 
Easter gifts only to be abandoned or left at shelters in the days, weeks 
and months that follow Easter.

Margo DeMello, the HRS's National Education Director, said, "Most of 
the rabbits purchased as Easter pets will never live to see their first 
birthday. Many may will die from neglect, while others will be abandoned in 
local parks or left at animal shelters. It is irresponsible for pet stores 
to push rabbits and other so-called Easter animals during the holiday. 
Unless parents are willing to take full responsibility for the new 
animal, they should buy their children stuffed animals instead."

Most children want a companion they can hold, carry and cuddle -- baby 
rabbits are ground-loving creatures who are energetic, playful and 
voracious nibblers. Additionally, rabbits are easily frightened by loud 
noises. It is unreasonable to expect a small child to make a 10-year 
commitment to taking care of a rabbit. All too often, the child loses 
interest, and the rabbit ends up neglected or abandoned.

Since domestic rabbits are not the product of natural selection, they can 
not take care of themselves if abandoned in the wild and will not survive. 
In most states it is a misdemeanor to abandon an animal.

DeMello adds, "Rabbits are easy to litter box train and incredibly 
social animals, they should live indoors and become members of the 
family. Also, rabbits, like dogs and cats, need physical exercise and 
mental stimulation and should not spend all their timer locked in a cage. 
Further, rabbits are not 'low maintenance' pets and require at least the 
same amount of work as a cat or dog"

HERE ARE A FEW POINTS TO CONSIDER BEFORE PURCHASING A RABBIT:

**Housing: Bunnies need a roomy indoor cage that is approximately four 
times the size of the adult rabbit. The cage should have a resting board 
covering the wire bottom, as the wires can cause sores on the rabbit's 
feet, and there should be room for a litterbox, toys, food and water bowls.

**Playtime: Rabbits need plenty of exercise and should be allowed at least 
30 hours running time per week.

**Outdoors: Rabbits should never be left outdoors unsupervised. They can 
quickly go into shock and die when approached by predators such as dogs, 
cats, raccoons and owls. They can also dig under fences to escape.

**Litter Box: Should be in one corner of the rabbit's cage, and the running 
space should contain at least one additional box. Use dust-free litter--not 
the clumping kind, and no softwood shavings.

**Diet: Bunnies need fresh pellets, water, hay and one to two cups of 
fresh vegetables each day. Most veterinarians suggest limiting the pellets 
and feeding two cups fresh vegetables per 5 lb. rabbit each day. Rabbits 
should have fresh oat or timothy hay available 24 hours per day.

**Grooming: Rabbits shed their coat four times per year; use a flea comb 
and brush away excess fur.

A PERSON WHO CHOOSES A BABY RABBIT AS A PET MUST:

**Have lots of time, a house that can stand to be chewed and a stable 
residence.

**Expect an unneutered/unspayed baby will spray urine on the walls. Know 
that neutering/spaying (at four to six months) will stop the problem.

**Expect accidents when baby forgets the location of the litterbox.

**Allow the energetic young rabbit at least 30 hours a week of free time 
outside her cage.

**Know the cute baby will soon be an adult rabbit and may have a different 
personality.

If you think you would enjoy sharing your home with a rabbit, please 
contact your local animal shelter, humane society or rabbit rescue group 
for information about adopting a rabbit. No matter where you live, you 
are probably within 10 miles of a rabbit who desperately needs a safe, 
indoor home. If you are not sure you can make this kind of commitment, 
please consider buying your child a stuffed rabbit toy this Easter instead.

The House Rabbit Society is an all-volunteer, nonprofit organization with 
two primary goals:1) To rescue abandoned rabbits and find permanent homes 
for them, and 2) To educate the public and assist humane societies in 
teaching proper rabbit care. 

For more information on the HRS and to find the chapter nearest you, 
please contact House Rabbit Society, P.O. Box 1201, Alameda, CA 94501 
(510) 521-4631 or visit our web site at www.rabbit.org