In this article, you will get all information regarding Returned ‘COVID Bunnies’, Overwhelmed Rescue Groups and Some Animal Shelters – Orange County Register – TheHitc

dr Gayle Roberts had never seen an injury like that of a pet rabbit lying on her operating table at her veterinary office in Irvine on Thursday, August 4th.

The rabbit suffered compound fractures of both tibias, creating a kind of odd agility that allowed her to walk on the exposed bones for weeks. The leg wounds were infected. Mites filled both ears. Since pinning the legs would cause too much trauma, she cleaned the ears and put antibiotics on them to cure the infections.

But the white rabbit’s heart with the black spots around its eyes stopped, most likely due to a blood clot.

“She was such a sweet rabbit. I’ve been thinking about adopting her myself,” Roberts said, processing the loss.

The wave of rabbit patients being seen by vets, combined with rabbit rescues across Southern California, along with calls from owners wanting to return the furry pets, has exploded. It’s the result of a spending spree in the early days of the coronavirus pandemic, when parents were looking for cute companions for confined children and teens.

Now that schools and workplaces are reopening, many owners are returning them, overwhelming rabbit rescue organizations and increasing populations at some animal shelters in the area. Some owners dump them in parks, neighborhoods, or backyards where they may get hit by cars, suffer falls, or be attacked by predators.

“We see more rabbits than cats,” said Roberts, a veteran veterinarian and owner of Northwood Animal Hospital. She does a “bunny day” once a week, and that usually means tending to 10 or more sick rabbits brought in by rescue groups, she said.

Bunny rescue organizations are being inundated with emails and phone calls from stuffed animal owners saying they can no longer care for the animal and want to return it.

“It’s gotten so out of control,” said Caroline Charland, founder and president of Bunny Bunch Rabbit Rescue, which has locations in Montclair and Fountain Valley. “We can’t keep up with all the calls — it’s all day, every day, non-stop.”

People wanted them during the COVID-19 lockdowns of 2020 and 2021. “But when everyone went back to work, they didn’t want them,” she said. “People would call them COVID rabbits.”

The Bunny World Foundation, an all-volunteer nonprofit based in Silver Lake, ships 16 to 20 rabbits each week to veterinary partners including Northwood Animal Hospital and VCA West Los Angeles Animal Hospital, said Lejla Hadzimuratovic, president and founder.

That’s just a tiny dot on the bunny overpopulation chart.

Her group rescues rabbits from city shelters and individuals to prevent them from being euthanized or injured, then tries to match them with responsible owners – after the rabbits are spayed and neutered. In an average year, the group saves 1,000 rabbits. The group expects 1,500 newcomers this year, Hadzimuratovic estimated.

“We’ve been doing this since 2008 and this is the worst year ever,” she said. “We’re all losing our minds right now”

Los Angeles Animal Services, a city agency, reports that they have more rabbits than usual in their shelters. They have 591 rabbits so far in 2022, compared to 364 rabbits at the same time in 2021, spokesman Justin Khosrowabadi said in an emailed reply.

Why the overpopulation?

Although few rabbit studies are conducted, rescue organizations, veterinarians, and city and county animal shelters offer several explanations for the sudden boom and bust cycle.

Most bunnies are acquired on a whim, unaware of the cost of repairs — up to $1,200 — and the need for a habitat and special diet, Hadzimuratovic said. House rabbits can’t survive outside, she added.

“Caring for pet rabbits is a huge commitment,” she said. “They’re very special animals and they need a space of four feet by eight feet. You can’t put them in a cage. They are not a disposable fashion accessory; it is a lifetime commitment.”

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Often they are purchased from breeders who don’t spay and neuter the animals, rescue workers say. Owners end up unknowingly buying pregnant rabbits, which breed every 28 days and can produce up to 12 babies per litter, Hadzimuratovic explained.

“Someone called and said I have 40 rabbits in my house — and that’s not an unusual call,” said Charland, who said she heard from someone who was hoarding up to 300 rabbits.

Hadzimuratovic strongly advises against buying from Hasenmühlen. Selling in pet shops is illegal, except for a few with sales licenses, but illegal breeders sell them on the streets. “They sell them in high-end locations like Beverly Hills and grow them in Riverside County,” she said.

“Illegal sale of rabbits contributes to pet overpopulation as they are often not spayed,” Khosrowabadi wrote. Animal control officials crack down on illegal sales, he wrote.

Oftentimes, celebrities or just lonely teens like to show off their bunnies on social media, Hadzimuratovic said. “They got them for their kids, or people just get bunnies so they can post them on Instagram. Because they are cute.”

Adoption, foster family

The Bunny World Foundation has 300 rabbits in their system and most live in 180 foster homes. These volunteer foster parents take care of the rabbits until they are ready for adoption. They are sent to veterinarians who spay and immunize them against diseases, Hadzimuratovic said.

They work with LA City Animal Services, the Pasadena Humane Society, the Southeast Area Animal Control Authority (SEAACA) based in Downey, and animal shelters in Mission Viejo, Moreno Valley and San Jacinto, she said.

Her volunteers bring rabbits from the shelters to their homes and often to the vet as well. Roberts said they make the 90-minute drive to Irvine with rabbits that are sick or need routine care. They often hold adoption events in Pasadena, Torrance and Burbank, she said.

The group recently received a $35,000 grant from Petco Love, a foundation. That helps with the vet bills, she said. Over the past five months, the group’s vet bill has totaled $45,000.

Finding someone to take these furry animals is the hardest part of her job, she said.

“A rabbit is a hybrid of a dog, cat and horse. They can be as loving as a dog and give you kisses. They have the same digestive system as a horse, as 80% of their diet is hay. Plus, they’re freaking gorgeous,” she said.

But often there is too little home and too many rabbits. “We can’t help everyone. This makes it a Sophie’s Choice every day. You have to decide who lives,” Hadzimuratovic said.

Adopt a pet rabbit:

• Email info@bunnyworldfoundation.org to adopt from Bunny World Foundation.

• Call Bunny Bunch Rabbit Rescue at 833-3-RABBIT or visit bunnybunch.org.

https://www.ocregister.com/2022/08/05/covid-bunny-rabbits-being-returned-overwhelming-rescue-groups-and-some-shelters/ Returned ‘COVID Bunnies’, Overwhelmed Rescue Groups and Some Animal Shelters – Orange County Register



Returned ‘COVID Bunnies’, Overwhelmed Rescue Groups and Some Animal Shelters – Orange County Register – TheHitc

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