Animal Rescue: Stick to chocolate bunnies this Easter _lowres

Photo provided by Magic Happens Rabbit Rescue -- Blu is about 10 months old, super-friendly and inquisitive, not shy or nervous, but active and playful. However, he doesn't like to sit for cuddle sessions just yet. He, along with other available bunnies, will be at the Magic Happens Rabbit Rescue adoption day from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday, April 12, at PetSmart, 1653 Millerville Road, Baton Rouge.

Easter is often associated with cute little bunnies, and while having a new bunny hopping around on Easter morning sounds like a good idea, the reality is that bunnies require a lot of work and care and are not ideal pets for small children.

Bunnies are not low-maintenance pets. They take just as much time, attention and care as dogs and cats do, and they have a life span of 10 to 12 years. They require vet care, spay/neuter and vaccinations.

Once Easter has come and gone and the newness of a bunny wears off, these animals often find themselves set free in the wild, where domesticated bunnies have zero chance of survival, or in overcrowded animal shelters.

“So many people think that they can release domestic rabbits and they can survive like a wild rabbit, but they aren’t even the same species. Our domestic rabbits are descendants of European rabbits, not our local ‘marsh rabbit’ variety. That’s like releasing a Chihuahua because we have coyotes around, and thinking they will survive just fine,” said Wendy Lincoln of Magic Happens Rabbit Rescue in Baton Rouge.

Some estimate that more than half of bunnies are rehomed or dumped before their first birthday.

“The vast majority of rabbits that we receive are between 6 and 18 months old. This is often because rabbits hit their growth spurt and enter puberty around 2.5 to 4 months of age. During this phase, they do not like to be handled, are less likely to use the litterbox, are much more prone to spray if not neutered, and are more active than an adult, who may sit and relax on the couch with you.

“So many people give them up at this age because they think this is permanent behavior or had the wrong expectations in the beginning. They do not know about spay or neuter, or simply cannot afford the surgery,” Lincoln said.

Before welcoming a new bunny into the family, do the research on the care rabbits require and decide whether you are ready to make the lifelong commitment. After Easter, visit a local shelter or rescue group and adopt a bunny or two. For more information on Magic Happens Rabbit Rescue, visit www.magic happensrescue.com.

Events

ADOPTION EVENT: During April, the Louisiana SPCA is reducing adoption fees by $50 for all cats and dogs that are at least 1 year old. Adoption hours are from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays at the SPCA, 1700 Mardi Gras Blvd., New Orleans. For information, visit la-spca.org call (504) 368-5191.

SPAY/NEUTER DISCOUNTS: The Louisiana SPCA Community Clinic is offering $20.15 spay/neuter surgeries through August for all pets residing in Orleans Parish. In addition, microchips will be available at a reduced fee of $10 in conjunction with a spay/neuter surgery or wellness visit, and T-N-R for feral cats will be reduced to $10. Call (504) 363-1333 or visit www.la-spca.org/communityclinic.

YAPPY HOUR: The Louisiana SPCA will be the beneficiary of a Yappy Hour from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. every Thursday in the courtyard at Rare Form, 437 Esplanade Ave., New Orleans. Fresh water and treats will be provided for pups while owners enjoy $1 off craft cocktails. When participants mention “Yappy Hour,” 15 percent of the proceeds will benefit the SPCA. For information, visit www.rareformnola.com.

RUN FOR CHARITY: When the Crescent City Classic takes place April 4, runners may register to raise money for any one of 10 charities, including the Louisiana SPCA. For details, visit www.la-spca.org/ccc.

LOST OR FOUND PETS: In Orleans Parish, you can send a photo, description of your pet, date lost/found and your contact information to lostandfound@la-spca.org. In Jefferson Parish, email molsen@jeffparish.net or bbourgeois @jeffparish.net, and in St. Bernard Parish, email cluna@sbpg.net.

Traci D. Howerton is social media editor of Animal Rescue New Orleans, a nonprofit, volunteer-based, no-kill shelter. Contact ARNO at animalrescuecolumn@gmail.com, www.animalrescuenew orleans.org or call its recorded information line at (504) 571-1900.