Easter Letter to the Editor

Dear Editor,

It is Easter time again. Many parents are tempted to buy one of those cute little Easter bunnies that appear in pet stores. Contrary to popular belief, rabbits are not good starter pets for children. Rabbits require as much work as dogs or cats. Unless the child is over the age of 12 and very responsible, a toy stuffed bunny will make a much better gift.

Baby bunnies are cute, cuddly, and tolerate being held. Babyhood doesn't last long , however. In two months, puberty turns baby bunny into Bugs Bunny. Often, the bunny no longer tolerates being held. Powerful hind legs can scratch and sharp teeth can bite. Un-neutered males spray and mark their territory. Unspayed females are territorial and may attack hands that enter her cage.

Spaying or neutering your bunny will eliminate these behaviors. Unfortunately, many people aren't aware of this fact - every summer humane shelters receive large numbers of former Easter bunnies as they reach adolescence.

Hundreds of rabbits are surrendered to animal shelters throughout Indiana every year. Older rabbits in animal shelters have little chance of being adopted, people want baby rabbits. This is unfortunate, older rabbits make the best pets. Surrender to animal shelters is preferable to being released to the wild. Pet rabbits released to the wild cannot fend for themselves, they won't survive more than 1-2 days on their own.

Nine out of ten rabbits don't live to reach their first birthday. This is tragic! Rabbits live 7-10 years when they are housed indoors, provided an appropriate diet, and receive regular veterinary care. Rabbits make great companions for people willing to provide a safe, loving, indoor environment. Rabbits thrive in an environment here they accepted on their own terms as a member of the family.

Save a life and don't buy an Easter bunny. If you must have a rabbit, rescue a spayed or neutered adult rabbit from your local animal shelter or from the Indiana Chapter of the House Rabbit Society. Visit the website www.indianahrs.org or call (317)767-7636 for more information.