Maxi and Steph are female Lionhead rabbits who were abandoned by their owners and are now living at a shelter, waiting to be adopted. Their story is a common one – bought or rescued by pet-curious owners but abandoned due to housing restrictions.
At their new home at the British Columbia Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (BCSPCA), Maxi and Steph share space with other rabbits. It’s a fate that Vancouverite Claire Gabereau wouldn’t dare dream of for her two dogs, Ruben and Pearl.
“Pre-Christmas and Easter are bad times for rabbit shelters because people are getting ready to go on vacation, so finding a sitter for the rabbit is a lot of work. And so, they think “we’ll just let it go free in the park, or dump it on the side of the road or let it loose in the yard”. This is a common occurrence with rabbits.” – Michelle Lemoignan, VRRA Rabbit Rescuer
Rabbit rescuers says freshly dumped rabbits find it extremely hard to get accustomed to their new wild surroundings. They have little understanding of where they are and are used to getting their food on a bowl. Their inability to fend for themselves amidst nature makes them a perfect prey for other wild animals.
According to the BC SPCA, rabbits are the third most popular pet after cats and dogs. However, unlike cats and dogs, rabbits have unique needs, live for 10 years and reproduce a lot. In one year, a female rabbit could possibly birth 224 baby bunnies.
Amy Morris, BC SPCA’s Public Policy and Outreach Manager, is a pet owner and lives in a pet-friendly unit.
“Our shelters do receive quite a few animals that should have remained with the people they’ve formed bonds with. The current system is allowing these bonds to break, and for people and animals to suffer unnecessarily. And that’s where our concerns are – the emotional suffering of people and animals.” – Amy Morris, BC SPCA Public Policy and Outreach Manager
For abandoned pet rabbits like Jingles and Meeka, this isn’t a choice they made.
However, for pet owners like Gabreau, the choice is simple.
“Ruben and Pearl are emotional support dogs. Because another move right now is just not. Just not! Not best for my health and well-being. We would obviously leave this city before we would abandon our pets, they are family,” Gabreau.