College freshman Katie Kotmeyer was at a petting zoo when she learned some disturbing news – all the sweet bunnies she petted will be butchered at the end of the season. I decided to bring one home.
‘I said, ‘I’ll take one of your hands,’ said Kottmeyer. ‘I snuck it into my dorm room.’
This rabbit—which Kottmeyer named Elvis Presley—was the beginning of her mission to find homes for cuddly people in need of lagomorphs and to educate potential caregivers in all things rabbit care.
“The summer I came back from college, I dumped two rabbits in a neighborhood. Then I became a bunny, so people kept calling and texting me.” “I was confused, so I decided to create a small group and make it official.”
In 2020, Kottmeyer officially founded Dolly’s Dream Home Rabbit Rescue, a non-profit organization dedicated to the promotion and adoption of rabbits. She now has three other rescue bunnies in addition to Elvis – Bunny Holly, Kenny Rogers, and Dolly Parton – the last of which is named after the organization.
Dolly’s Dream Home uses an adoption-based system, which means that rescued rabbits are looked after by generous foster families until they find permanent homes. This allows the organization to get to know each rabbit to ensure they are placed with the ideal adopters. Although Kottmeyer lives in St. Charles, Dolly’s Dream Home is adopted throughout St. Louis.
Marty Holzhueter of Kirkwood discovered the organization on Facebook after her children expressed interest in adopting a rabbit.
I said, ‘Rabbites require a lot of work, you guys. How about getting to an incubator and deciding whether we actually want to adopt one or not? “It was a good experience for the kids to realize that you can’t throw food into a bowl,” Holziuter said. There is more than that. “
Holziuter and her children have raised three pairs of rabbits so far, and they plan to host more after their summer travels. While it can be hard to say goodbye to their furry friends, Holzheuter loves knowing that rabbits go to good homes. It also encourages prospective rabbit owners to try adoption first to see if rabbits are suitable.
“It’s easier than a dog,” she said, “but it’s still a responsibility.” “Every rabbit is different. Some are active and some are more relaxed. Some will snuggle with other pets and some need to be the only pet. Adoption is a commitment because you don’t know how long it will last. But if you are a true animal lover, the It’s worth it.”
Kottmeyer found Dolly on Craigslist, where the bunny was listed as a six-month-old. When it came time to spay her, Kottmeyer learned that Dolly was actually a seven or eight-year-old broiler. Kottmeyer said Dolly’s Dream Home is named after her, because it represents the organization’s mission.
She was very aggressive. “I decided to keep it because it would have been euthanized elsewhere,” Cotmeyer said. “It’s very special – at least to me.”
According to Cotmeyer, rabbits are often abandoned due to unexpected behaviors when they reach their teens. Once sweet pets become hormonal and spray urine, grumble, bite, or rise up on their hind legs and ‘drop’ with their front legs. These behaviors can get worse when rabbits are caged and become territorial, she said.
“Rabbits need enough space to stretch their legs,” she said. “When we pull rabbits out of their cages, they have different levels of hind leg atrophy. They need to be given space, like cats or dogs.”
Since rabbits cannot regulate their own body temperature, Kottmeyer said, they should never be kept outside. If the owners can’t give them housekeeping, she recommends an indoor “puppy pen” with enough room for them to jump in.
To keep hormonal behaviors in check, Dolly’s Dream Home spays or neuters rabbits before adopting them. The herders also learned to train their rabbits to dispose of litter, which Kottmeyer says can be achieved in just a few days.
Prospective sponsors are required to participate in a comprehensive live zoom training session to ensure they are ready to welcome their new friends. And while the herders understand that their roles may be temporary, Cotmeyer said most of them — about 90% — end up adopting the rabbits they care about.
“It all depends on volunteers and we can’t keep the care here forever,” Kottmeyer said. “Rabbits are wonderful pets if you have the proper education. They live from eight to 12 years, know their names and can do tricks. Please reach out if you have any interest in fostering or adoption.”
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