I have two rabbits; a boy and a girl, Trumpkin and Meg. I know what you're thinking, and no, they don't. They are spayed and neutered. They are (mostly) litter box trained, and not that cuddly. They thump their back feet with disdain and remarkable volume when I oversleep their breakfast hour. They eat hay around the clock, salad at bedtime and raisins as often as I will let them. When they were babies, our cats thought we'd brought home a kitty entertainment show whose grand finale would be edible, but now they all weigh about the same and there is household peace.
Karin Yates, on the other hand, has more than 100 rabbits. Macy Gray and Joel Grey, Merlin and Marlin, Nubby and Bebop and more. At her sanctuary in Alamance County, Yates takes in abandoned pet rabbits that wind up in local shelters when the novelty wears off or the classrooms close for the summer. She has former Easter presents and the offspring of unspayed mommas whose owners thought it would be cute to breed another generation of homeless bunnies. Nationwide, unwanted rabbits are the third most commonly dumped pets at animal shelters, after dogs and cats. That's not counting the domestic rabbits that are "set free" to fend for themselves without any native instincts.
Through the same freak of biology that makes wild rabbits an ample link in the food chain, the rabbit population at Yates' Snow Camp Sanctuary has recently doubled. She neuters all the males she rescues, since it's cheaper than spaying. But despite her best efforts at birth control, one or two baby boys slipped past her system and reached maturity. Since they all live communally in a "bunny barn," voila, a population boom.
The barn doesn't have room for them all to live out their eight-to-12-year lifespan in luxury, so Yates is reluctantly putting the babies up for adoption--in pairs so they'll have a buddy. She's looking for house-rabbit homes, not the kind where the bunny lives in a tiny wire cage 24/7.
"It's a daunting task, because the reason I have so many bunnies is because no one wants them," Yates says, with a sigh.
I know from experience that house bunnies are as big a commitment as dogs and cats. They have bad habits, like chewing phone cords. They don't come when you call them. But they do bounce across a room in joyful leaps bunny lovers call "binkies." And they do sit quietly for hours while you work at your desk, washing their faces with their paws and twirling their ears. Rabbits have a way of just being that shuts down your stress and makes you sit still, breathe deeply and grin stupidly for a few minutes.
Don't you want two of your own?
Call Snow Camp Sanctuary at (336) 376-7817 or write, 1574 Major Hill Road, Snow Camp, NC 27349. Donations are also welcome.