Monday, August 09, 2010

What a Rescuer has to deal with daily...

So, I get up... and I check my emails. Five surrenders, one from a volunteer saying she can't come on her regular day this week, and one about a potential upcoming event. As it is, I work midnights, and I'm up at 8 am because we've got spays and neuters to deliver to/from the vet this morning, and I'm only getting three hours of sleep before a 12 hour overnight shift, but that's not here nor there...

I check my email.

I got the following email last night;

"Hello My name is ***** ******. We have three beautiful bunnies who need a home. They started as indoor pets for our triplet daughters, but we quickly realized they were not suited for our home. We have other pets and they are not compatible.
Regretfully, we decided to try and keep them for the girls in an outdoor hutch, which worked during the cooler months, but now we are not happy with the situation and feel extremely badly for the bunnies, and that our girls need to give them up. Would it be possible for us to give them to the rescue and hope that you can place them in a proper indoor living environment, singly so that they receive the proper care?
We can not provide the proper care for them in an indoor environment, and the outdoor hutch is no longer a proper environment since they are fully grown. (We have had them approximately 1 year).
We live on a golf course in south Fort Myers and there is lots of other wildlife in the area which is becoming attracted to the hutch for a food source from the food and droppings. We could deliver the bunnies to you if you can find a proper home. I do not want to take them to the local animal control shelter. Please respond to my cell phone 239-***-**** or my husband's cell 239-***-****. What are your hours of operation and your location?
Thank you ***** ******

(Don't even get me started on the LONG LONG list of cliche "dumper" things in this email.)

So I had replied last night;

"We've just taken in sixteen bunnies, two ferrets and 30 guinea pigs in the last sixteen days, so things are a little cramped. HOWEVER... if you can the spay(s) ($45) or neuters ($35) I can commit to taking buns around August 16th. I just have to wait until a few of the adoptions / pick-ups clear before I can fit anybunny else into our schedule.

If your rabbit is currently not spayed or neutered, and behavioral issues (such as spraying, biting, humping, chewing, etc) is part of the problem, please consider fixing your bunny and keeping them in your home - that really is the best place for them since there's so many rabbits being euthanized in local shelters (about 200 bunnies die in Florida shelters without homes every week because of the HIGH number of folks who buy them and dump them less than a year later)

I'll just need to the following info from you ... (insert details about the bunnies here)
Thanks! Kristie"

So imagine my surprise when I get back this email;

"I sent pictures attached to my earlier email, please let me know if they do not come through again. I will re-attach.
Is there any possible way you could take these three before the 16th of August? The spay/neuter fees are no problem, we just want to find placement for them before we leave town on the 10th of August.
If it is not possible for you, are you aware of any other no-kill shelters that we could try in this region?
They are three beautiful flop eared bunnies, and it is important that we find loving homes for them so that we can assure our daughters that the bunnies are being cared for properly. As I mentioned in our earlier email, we have other indoor pets that are an issue with keeping the bunnies inside, and our work and school schedules are not conducive to giving the bunnies the care they deserve.
We are not sure of the sexes, as the per store could not guarantee the sex when we bought them, they were young. We do believe that there is at least 1 male in the trio. We had them indoors for a few months until they "became of age" and they started adult behaviors. They were then separated and moved outside.
Please help us if you possibly can.
We believe they are flop eared, possibly two females and one male, about 1 year old and in good health condition overall.
They have been very well fed. They are basically gentle, our 10 year old daughters hold them and bring them inside to play. "

What your first email SHOULD have read is:
"I have three ten year old triplet daughters who I thought would look cute with three bunny rabbits. The rabbits are no longer tiny and cute, and they are doing annoying things like pooping and chewing (you know, acting like rabbits) - and I want to get rid of them ASAP because we're going on vacation. Oh, by the way, when we first got tired of them we stuck them in hutches in the back yard to be forgotten, but it's 100 degrees outside, they just haven't died yet, and now we're going on vacation and want to make sure they are gone so we don't have to feel bad for them. Plus, we want to look like the heros to our little girls when we get to tell them the bunnies went off to some pretty farm where they will be loved and happy forever. Sorry we didn't bother to look into or read anything about rabbits when we got them. All we could think about is HOW CUTE they would look with our three matching daughters! Oh, and seriously, did you know these things actually kick when you try to hold them? Or that they scratch and geeze, now they all weigh like 8 lbs instead of being hampster-sized like they were at the pet store! They totally outgrew that tiny little "starter cage" in like a week! Anyway, if you could just drop what you're doing and come get them, regardless of how many animals you're already taking care of, that'd be great. If you have to let a few other rabbits die at the shelter to make room, that's fine. I don't have to feel bad about them, they weren't my bunnies! I'm sure you have nothing better to do anyway, so if you could come pick them up, awesome!
-Yours truly, one more person who wants to dump their bunnies and not feel bad about it."

ARGH. So Kristie, knowing that she REALLY cares about the health and well-being of the rabbits, but really REALLY dislikes people treating her and her staff like CRAP and worse, treating their animals like disposables... writes back;

"I'll make you a deal. Seriously, so hear me out.

I'll find a way to squeeze these bunnies in before the 10th, despite having NO room at all (We just took in 16, and over 30 guinea pigs, you saw that email, yes?) - but you have to do me a favor if I find a way to make that happen.

Sit down with your ten year old and explain that getting pets and then not properly taking care of them, and ultimately "getting rid of them" isn't the answer. Seriously. It's VERY important children be taught the value of pets, and that you don't just dump them when they start "adult behavior". When people GET rabbits, 90% of them die or get dumped within the first year because they don't do any research first. If you guys had read up on rabbits before you got them, you would know that putting them outside is the #1 way to kill them quickly from stress and heat stroke - or that if you didn't fix them, they'd bite, hump, spray urine, etc. This is a GREAT lesson for your daughter to explain what went wrong - sit down and teach her that you guys made a BIG mistake and that you should never, ever get a pet without thinking about what is going to happen to them for their entire lives. That way when she grows up, she can be part of the solution rather than the problem. Unfortunately, research has shown that kids who grow up in homes who abandon animals are 80% more likely to get pets and dump them when THEY grow up. It's a terrifying trend.

We spend $16,000 a year taking care of bunnies from people who "just got tired of them" as well as strays, kill shelter death-row bunnies, and while most owner surrenders cover the spay and neuter cost (our spays and neuters run from $35- $75 depending on the vet we have to use because we're overbooked) - that's just the bottom end. If your surrendered rabbit breaks a leg, or needs complicated tumor surgery, they get it. We've easily spent $800 on a single bunny for medical needs...

We also spend two hours each screening and educating potential adoptive homes to make sure when your rabbit leaves here, it's the LAST time it gets bounced around in a home. We make sure they will live out their lives inside, part of the family, litter-trained, getting along with all their other pets, and that they are aware of all the joys AND problems that come with having house rabbits. It's HARD work, and we don't do it just to give folks a guilt-free way out of the pets they bought and no longer feel like taking care of.

In the last two months, I found out I was pregnant, and my fiance dumped me and took off after I ended up getting a restraining order. I also had to leave my job as a police officer and go work in dispatch, which I loathe. So if I can go through all that, and still get up and take care of my 9 pets, and 85 animals that belonged to other people, trust me - anyone should be able to take on the responsibility of keeping the pets they got. Even if they are moving, even if they go on vacation, or go back to college, or whatever the latest excuse may be.

We spend a TON of time trying to educate kids that pets aren't a toy or a convenience to just get rid of when you're tired of them being cute, young and easy. We don't want your daughter to think that there's some happy place where thousands of bunnies just magically find new happy homes - or worse, for her to think two years from now "Hey, let's buy some more baby bunnies!! We'll just dump 'em at that rescue when they get to be a year old!" - that's not fair to your daughter OR to any animal, and I'm sure you agree! We take in bunnies from death row, and now three of those death row shelter bunnies will have to die because we've got to make room for your three before you go on vacation.

We're all parents here, and we just want to make sure that if we're giving you the easy way out with these poor bunnies, that you're going to at least make sure the cycle of buy-and-dump ends here for your family, and that you promise next time you get a pet, you'll do all the homework first and be SURE you can keep them for the 10+ years. Fair enough?

President, Little Miracles Rabbit Rescue

P.S. There are plenty of "kill shelters" where you could take them, but I don't know of any no-kill rescue group who is going to magically make room in less than 7 days for three year old unfixed bunnies. The reality is that EVERYONE and their brother is emailing us to dump their bunnies before they go on vacation because the easter fun is wearing off - so your email is one of like fifty I actually answered and didn't just say "No, sorry, we're full."

We're waiting on a response. But we wanted to let you guys know what we go through on a daily basis. Now, if you don't mind, Kristie's going to go back to sleep for about four hours before getting up, feeding the bunnies veggies, and then going off to work for 12 hours. *sigh*


"Kristie thank you for the time and effort you are spending to our bunnies and other uninformed families like mine.I will sit down with our triplet girls and read your message and explain these issues to them. I feel bad about this outcome and situation but I am glad to know there is someone like you that can handle our negative position and will try to make a positive one from it. I can assure you that this will not happen again! You personally have been through an ordeal which I cannot even imagine. This added stress I apologize for, any help or assistance that you provide will be most greatly appreciated. Please let me know a comfortable time line that will work. My wife and kids will be leaving on the 11 th but I will stay back to get this matter resolved. I thank you "

Posted via email from rabbitmatch's posterous

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