I had a person come up to me the other day and ask me what their friends should do with a rabbit that is living inside a cage in their garage. My answer was easy, “Take him to the local shelter and relinquish him so that he can get a nice new home with someone who cares about him”.
Their response was, “Isn’t there a petting zoo around somewhere”?
This implied that it would be better to dump the bunny at a zoo or even set him free, but anything would be better than taking the rabbit to the shelter. Really?
I work at a couple of local shelters and it is true that they sometimes euthanize rabbits there. Thankfully, the days of putting bunnies to sleep because there is no room for them in the shelter are not as common as they used to be. Still, rabbits occasionally do get put down for illness or behavior issues because shelters do not have the resources to spend on their medical care and there are still some antiquated rules about animals that bite, but this happens for less than one percent of the buns that are admitted to the shelter.
What do you think the odds of dying are for a rabbit that is released into the wild? My guess would be that it is less than 50-50 that the animal survives a year. Isn’t that a more sure of a death sentence than the one in a hundred chance of a bad outcome at the shelter?
I know that shelters have gotten a bad rap with the public because they admittedly do euthanize some of the animals that come to them, but the public is more to blame for that than the shelters are, in my opinion. Why do people continue to purchase pets from the malls and local pet stores instead of giving homes to animals in the shelters and those living with rescue groups? I personally think that most people do not give consideration to the fact that when they do this, they are now part of the problem.
When a pet is purchased instead of being adopted, that is one more critter who will languish in a cage at the shelter instead of going to a new home. That is also, one more animal that will now be bred by a breeder to replace the animal in the pet store that the person just bought. It continues the cycle of breeding more unnecessary pets.
The shelters are not places to be feared. They are bastions of hope for thousands of animals who are in need of some caring people to give them the forever home that they crave. The public should not shun their local shelters. They should be supporting them by adopting from them, but also taking animals there to find new homes when necessary.
Better to end up in the shelter where there is at least a chance of a new life with some new people who will give better care and more love to an animal, than to allow the little guy to be neglected and abandoned. When this goes on long enough, his condition becomes so bad that when he finally does end up at the shelter, that there is not other recourse than to end his life.
Many people simply set the animal free, so that someone else will find him and end up with the responsibility of taking him to the shelter. That is pretty sad. How can people be so heartless?
I think folks justify it in their minds by demonizing the shelter and rationalizing that setting their pet free or locking him away in a cage someplace out of sight, that it is actually better than being in the shelter. Nothing could be farther from the truth.
The ultimate betrayal is preventing your pet from being able to finally get a new home where the people will have more time and love to give to him. You can rationalize running out on the commitment that was made when bringing the animal home in the first place, but then why not just let the pet move on and go somewhere where he is truly wanted?
Shelters are not the enemy and while no animal wants to end up there, for most it is a chance at a new life and a new beginning. Embrace your local shelter and even donate and volunteer there. See what is actually going on by becoming involved. I do not think there is a shelter in this country that does not need fresh new volunteers to help them in their quest to find new homes for their charges.
The Bunny Guy