The Humane Society of Kitchener Waterloo and Stratford Perth is asking for the public’s help in caring for the unusually high number of stray or surrendered pet rabbits they’ve had to take in so far this year.
STRATFORD – Local animal-welfare officials say they’ve been overwhelmed with the number of stray and surrendered pet rabbits who’ve come into their care in recent weeks.
The Easter-time surge is no joke, and it has the humane society in Kitchener-Waterloo and Stratford urging owners to think twice before abandoning into the wild the largely helpless pets.
“We are definitely seeing a higher number of stray rabbits, as well as calls for help for surrendered rabbits,” said the humane society’s Calla James. That included seven stray rabbits last weekend alone.
Across their two shelters, James said staff is caring for a total of 18 pet rabbits, with 34 more on a waiting list to be surrendered once the shelter space opens up. Typically, they would take in 25 to 30 rabbits annually.
Many of the strays were abandoned by their owners, which has led James and her colleagues to caution people against that step.
“A domestic rabbit is not like a wild rabbit,” she said, adding a rabbit willing to go outside isn’t necessarily wild. “They’ve been domesticated, they rely on us for food, water, for shelter.
“So essentially, when we’re looking at those rabbits that were put on our property overnight, temperatures were lower, they were right by a road that is very busy . . . so they could potentially be hit by a car, and they can be caught by other wildlife as well. So that’s definitely not something we would ever recommend.”
Abandoning a pet, whether it’s a cat, dog or rabbit, can also be an offence under the Provincial Animal Welfare Services Act. Anyone with information about rabbits or any other pet being abandoned in their area can call Ontario animal welfare officials at 1-833-9ANIMAL. Those considering adoption from the humane society can do so with a $50 fee.
For more information, visit kwsphumane.ca.