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Richmond-based rescue cautions against buying rabbits ahead of Easter

Unwanted rabbits a "prolific cause" of overrun abandoned rabbit population in Lower Mainland: Rabbitats founder
Rabbits found on Vancouver's Cardero Street.

A Richmond-based rescue is hoping the public will consider carefully before taking rabbits home, especially from places other than rescues.

With 2023 being the Year of the Rabbit and Easter approaching on the horizon, the abundance of cute rabbit imagery has made the temptation to take one home stronger than ever.

However, Rabbitats is warning of potential dark consequences.

“Unwanted Easter bunnies are a prolific cause of the massive overrun of abandoned rabbits in the Lower Mainland,” said Sorelle Saidman, founder of Rabbitats, in a media release.

“Rabbits released into the environment do damage and they are routinely hit by cars and attacked by predators.  They usually survive less than a year, but they outbreed the predators.  They can give birth every 31 days producing many more offspring who just suffer the same fate.”

The Richmond News reported last year that online breeders contribute to the increase in abandoned rabbits, especially after the pet store ban came into place.

Rescues such as Rabbitats and the Vancouver Rabbit Rescue and Advocacy help ensure rabbits are healthy and neutered, and will even take the rabbits back from owners if necessary, but they're being stretched thin.

"Currently (rabbits) are almost impossible to rehome. Rabbits acquired during the (COVID-19) lockdowns are being abandoned in droves as people go back to work," reads the release.

Most rescues are currently at capacity, while few city shelters accept rabbits.

Reports of abandoned rabbits are sent to Rabbitats every day, and just last week, three lop-eared bunnies were found out in the cold on a Vancouver street.

Rabbitats encourages the public to learn more about rabbits before thinking of bringing them home.For example, they can attend events such as the Easter BunnyFest, which will be held on April 1 at the Scottish Cultural Centre in South Vancouver, or visit the Bunny Cafe on Commercial Drive

However, inhumane petting zoos should be avoided.

For those who "make an informed decision to take in a rabbit," they should adopt one or try fostering rabbits to make sure they're the right fit.