In the weeks following Easter, after all the eggs have been collected, Easter baskets have been emptied, and chocolate rabbits have long since been eaten, thousands of real live bunnies flood into animal shelters across the country. What gives?
Amidst all the springtime advertising linking Easter with adorable and cuddly baby bunnies and chicks, some well-meaning parents gift live animals to their excited children. When the Easter hype dies down, however, families are left to take care of animals they are woefully unprepared for.
These animals, most often rabbits, are left at shelters or dumped outside, expected to fend for themselves. Gifting live animals who are destined to be returned or abandoned endangers their lives and contributes to the overcrowding of animal shelters.
Although they make wonderful companions for those who care for them properly, rabbits are not low-maintenance pets, nor should they be used as starter pets for children. Rabbits are social animals and require the same level of interaction and care that a dog or cat would. These delicate animals are often frightened when cuddled and held by even the most gentle children.
Giving a pet as a gift, especially one for a child, is a decision that should be given a great deal of thought and is not suitable for children under age eight. Rabbits and other animals are not meant to be temporary or seasonal gifts, so let’s keep all our Easter bunnies chocolate.