Too many abandoned, die of neglect
Rabbit rescue groups across Southern California are again urging people not to purchase bunnies as Easter gifts for children, saying that what begins as a well-intentioned gesture often leads to abandoned animals when the novelty wears off and families realize they’re not equipped to properly care for the pets.
Instead, rescue groups and animal control officials recommend buying a stuffed toy bunny or chocolate candy rabbit for kids’ Easter baskets.
“Easter bunnies who magically appear and lay multi-colored eggs shown on greetings cards and cartoons are nothing but a fantasy,” said Lejla Hadzimuratovic, founder and president of Bunny World Foundation, a Los Angeles-based nonprofit that has rescued thousands of unwanted rabbits from shelters and the owner surrenders since its founding in 2008.
“Every year, we scream from the top of our lungs that bunnies don’t make good Easter gifts, and still, those reminders go unheeded,” Hadzimuratovic told City News Service in 2022.
Retail sales of rabbits, dogs and cats are prohibited in California, but direct sales are still permitted, including online, and illegal street sales occur in urban areas where baby bunnies are sometimes deceptively marketed as adult “dwarfs.”
Despite an ordinance prohibiting the sale and purchase of live animals on the streets of Los Angeles, Hadzimuratovic says “the year-round live animal market in LA’s Fashion District, specifically Santee Alley, is thriving. Typically bought on a whim as a toy for a child, they often live a desolate life in the corner of a filthy cage without enrichment until they are abandoned to a shelter or die of neglect.” The Los Angeles Rabbit Foundation proclaimed “real rabbits and Easter don’t mix” in its annual Easter message this year:
“Rabbits make poor pets for small children. Most rabbits do not like to be picked up and held, and may scratch or bite in an effort to get free, or be injured when dropped. The typical ‘Easter bunnies’ illegally sold on the streets or in pet stores are usually babies, taken from their mothers before they are properly weaned. They will die soon after purchase–hardly a fun experience for kids.”
Rabbits are not low-maintenance pets. They require feeding, cleaning, and humane indoor housing in a bunny-proofed room, and veterinary care can be expensive, advocates note. They’re also not ideal pets for small children, as they respond best to quiet energy and can be easily spooked by the hyperactivity of a child.