Buying a bunny for Easter? Bad idea, shelter says - FOX 35 News Orlando

Buying a bunny for Easter? Bad idea, shelter says

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

They're cute, they're cuddly, and every Easter season, people flock to pet stores to buy bunnies for their children. But after the novelty wears off, many pet rabbits end up getting dumped in animal shelters, or abandoned to die in the wild.

One local shelter is getting the word out to respect the rabbits.

"There's a myth that rabbits are very cute little cuddly animals and they do not like to be held," shelter owner Toni Greetis explains. "They're prey animals so they often don't live up to the expectations of small children."

Toni Greetis runs the Red Door Animal Shelter and says every year he runs into the same thing.

"The day after Easter, all the way through summer and fall, will be a huge busy season for us, we'll get lots of calls about rabbits abandoned outside, or people wanting to give them up," Greetis says.

And those are the nicer people who don't just dump them into some outdoor area, maybe thinking they'll go back to the wild.

"If you let a rabbit out in the wild that's been domesticated, it will die," says pet store owner Jose Luque. "It will either get attacked by other rabbits or he'll starve."

At Chubbrocks Pet Store, Jose Luque says rabbits can be good companions,

"Great pets, they have feelings," Luque says. "They're just a good as a dog."

That's only if owners are prepared for an 8 to 12 year commitment that includes lots of work. Rabbits are more playful than cuddly, they need lots of exercise outside their cage and there is no rabbit chow.

"Rabbits do require lots of fresh hay, and a lot of people have issues with allergies to sympathy hay," Greetis says. "That's the main portion of their diet. They also need fresh salads, and they need two to four hours of exercise every day."

The shelter is not only warning would-be owners about what it takes to do right by a pet rabbit – they're also urging merchants to do what it takes to prevent purchases made in a weak moment of Easter emotion.

"We started asking local pet stores to not sell rabbits the week before and the week after Easter, in hopes that they won't be bought impulsively and then abandoned later," Greetis says.

Jose Luque says he would rather pass up the sales now, than deal with the sad tales later.

"I've had people bring me rabbits into the pet shop that they can't take care of anymore," Luque says. "Parents are busy working and so on and so forth and the rabbits being neglected."

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