Eggs delivered by the Easter Bunny are as much a part of the holiday as a tree is at Christmas. And many people will buy a rabbit to accompany an Easter basket and an egg hunt.
But rabbits are not seasonal promotional items; they represent a 10-year commitment.
“As pets, rabbits are not low maintenance,” said Ed Van Herik, president of the North Georgia House Rabbit Society in Marietta. “They require at least the same amount of work as a cat or dog, and often more.”
Van Herik said that many of the rabbits purchased as Easter pets will never live to see their first birthday. Some will die from neglect, while others will be abandoned in local parks or left at animal shelters.
“If a parent wants to buy an Easter gift for their child, they should consider a chocolate rabbit,” he said. “The kids can enjoy them for 10 minutes, and they won’t have to take care of them for the next 10 years.”
Bucky, a rabbit cared for by the House Rabbit Society, knows first-hand the suffering that neglect can cause. Bucky was found huddled under a front porch last August, wet and shivering. Many rabbits are abandoned in August, a common month when animal shelters see thousands of the now teenaged and not-as-cuddly “Easter Bunnies” show up at their doors. Bucky suffered from extensive flea and tick infestations and had to have surgery for several abscesses before he was adopted by a caring, considerate owner.
Most people who purchase rabbits or other seasonal pets at Easter receive no education and often see the new pets as a holiday frill, able to be put into the wild after a few months.
“A house rabbit is as able to survive in the wild as you or I would be if we were set down naked in the woods,” said Van Herik. “If we buy pets, we owe them more than that. We owe them care and consideration, both before we buy them and after we take them home.”