These rabbits do not survive, and suffer when allowed into the wild. An animal advocate says: ‘These rabbits are bred to be a household breed, so they have no instincts’
Over the past several months, Innisville resident Erica Pettit has been rescuing rabbits that were illegally dumped in local parks in the area.
in May, Barry today He published a fictional story about Petit and Barry, a native of Autumn Sidon, two animal advocates who hoped that by drawing attention to the situation, the situation would improve.
Since then, Pettit has been working to find the homes of the rescued rabbits, and with one of the bunnies turning into a girl, they end up getting litter.
“When we collected the rabbits, we were able to have sex with some straight away, but we are amateurs and have a long story short, not all of them had sex, and one of them ended up being a girl,” Pettit said. “She gave birth to 12 children, three of whom died, so we have nine children who need homes.”
With the cost of fixing a rabbit, a necessary step when raising them, at $800, Pettit needs help fixing and vaccinating these rabbits while finding them “forever loving homes.”
“Unfortunately, the Barrie SPCA has been closed for five weeks and they are really unable to help us,” Pettit explained. “We have been trying to spay and neuter them for a while but can’t find a vet right now through the SPCA that will spay and neuter the young animals. Now, if we take them to a vet, it will be $800 per rabbit. We desperately need help.”
The most important aspect of the situation is that the rabbits must be fixed or it can lead to problems.
“What eventually happens is that people get rabbits as gifts and think they are very small and cute like hamsters and can be kept in a cage, but they are like cats and dogs,” Pettit says. Once they grow out of the cute, fluffy little bunny stage, they go into the ‘horrible duo,’ like a toddler. They can become destructive and aggressive, want to breed and will start chewing furniture, throwing things, making noises – like a puppy. Once they are fixed, they will fully mature.”
Part of the larger problem with rabbits not being reformed and a lack of education about how to raise them, Pettit says, is that they end up getting dumped in communities like Innisfil and Barrie, which has a snowball effect.
“Many people don’t know this and when the cute little bunny gets destructive, they just let them go wild,” Pettit said. “What eventually happens is that they either end up succumbing to the elements or breeding with each other and giving birth to a litter every 32 days. There’s a college campus in BC where this has happened decades ago and there’s a bunch of feral rabbits, and there’s one in Alberta as well.”
“It has become a town issue because it attracts more coyotes to the area, and they also hunt cats and dogs too. These rabbits don’t survive, and suffer when allowed into the wild. These rabbits are bred to be domestic breeds, so they have no instincts. I tell people that I’m from City and if you put me in the north in the middle of the forest, I will die.”
Originally, Pettit and the other volunteers who helped rescue the rabbits had the help of rescue organizations, but they are now at the peak of their energy with the huge number of rabbits being euthanized.
“It happens everywhere,” Pettit said. “At this point, I haven’t seen anything like this and I haven’t seen any rescues. Not only are the shelters full, but the nurseries are full too – they literally no longer have room to take in.”
With the cost of living becoming a bigger problem on every level, Pettit believes it plays a role in illegal shedding of rabbits.
“That’s the problem, people are financially strapped and they can’t afford it,” she said. “The price of straw has gone up and even paper bedding has gone up—it’s gone up $3 in the last six months. I can understand that it’s hitting us financially as well, but just releasing them is shifting the responsibility to someone else. Not only is it destroying the environment, It also causes health problems. The RBD virus is found in Ontario, and it is 100 percent fatal and highly contagious to rabbits. They can spread disease.”
Pettit sees the situation as a vicious cycle. People are getting rabbits as pets without knowing the importance of repairing them and the costs, they are looking for an easy way out by getting rid of them, they breed or they are rescued, rescues are full, there is a lot to be saved and ultimately this creates a feral rabbit within the community which affects the local environment.
To help alleviate this problem, Pettit hopes that community members can step up and adopt the rescued rabbits.
“They make wonderful pets, they are the cutest,” she said. “They are like owning a combination of a dog and a cat. They come to you when you call them, they are playful, they are really smart. They are incredibly cute and playful. They make wonderful pets but like any other pet, they have responsibilities and have special needs. We want To find them good homes and to get people to stop getting rid of them.”
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