It’s just as well that Liesbeth has a great sense of humour because I imagine that otherwise there would be days when her work rescuing, caring for and finding homes for dumped and unwanted rabbits – and sometimes other small animals - would really drive her crazy. When people think of animal shelters they think of cats and dogs. What many don’t realise is that all types of animals are the regular victims of our frivolous throw-away society where it is deemed acceptable for anyone to breed and sell (or give away) pets, and for owners to refuse to take responsibility for providing a good quality of life for them. Every year countless rabbits are bought, often for kids, then “released into the wild to be free” when the kids can no longer be bothered caring for them or the parents are sick of the hassle. Freedom means almost certain death for any animal as thoroughly domesticated and in-bred as domestic rabbits are, whether it be through thirst, starvation, disease, being hunted by cats and dogs or run over by cars.
Take a close look at my ‘fluffy kids’ (Mum calls them her Grandbunnies, isn’t that gorgeous?). Rocco is the large brown and white male, a total snuggle-bun with a magnificent set of whiskers, who loves to have his ears scratched and learned to follow Carl around like a shadow vacuuming up the dropped cookies and raisins that little kids tend to shed. Rocco was ‘given up’ by his owners because they complained that he dug up their garden. DUH! A rabbit that digs, what a surprise!
Ashley is the sleek blue-grey lady giving her man a kiss. She was simply chucked into the street with her siblings, dumped by an owner or breeder who didn’t even have the humanity to hand them into a shelter. She was terrified of people when we first got her (can you blame her) but has learned to trust a few of us and is as contented as any bun could possibly be in their safe loving home and with a buddy to snuggle up to. Can you imagine anyone dumping these rabbits in the street?
Next time you are thinking of getting a pet, please check out the rescue centres near you. They’re listed in the phone book, can be found on the internet, or otherwise ask at your local vet clinic if they know of anyone who rescues animals nearby. They all deserve a good home and it’s our responsibility to make sure they get it.