As Easter approaches, the City of Surrey is looking for volunteers who can provide foster homes for rabbits.
As of Thursday afternoon, the Surrey Animal Resource Centre had 19 bunnies in its facility, despite being equipped to house only four to eight. Centre manager Shelley Joaquin said they have 23 rabbits in their care in total, but four have already gone into foster homes in response to their plea for help.
“We are definitely over capacity,” she said, and added the atrium where they normally hold events or training is now full of rabbits.
“Unfortunately we do get a lot of stray rabbits, and so much so that when people are looking to rehouse them we rarely can take in an owner-surrender or a rabbit from someone that can no longer care for it.”
To deal with what it calls “a notable increase in abandoned rabbits,” the centre is asking for volunteers who can commit to housing a rabbit for at least two weeks.
“You need enough space to have a large x-pen inside your home,” Joaquin said. “You need to clean the litter box. They need fresh greens daily.”
The centre has seen an increasing number of abandoned rabbits over the last few years. In 2019, they took in 60 rabbits. In 2020, they received 76, and last year, 129 bunnies came to the facility.
“Some are found in parks. We’ve had some actually in dumpsters, actually in the boxes that they were bought in,” Joaquin said. “Last year, unfortunately, we had some dumped in a ravine, in water, in a container … if they hadn’t been found, they might have drowned.”
The centre is also reminding people that buying a pet as a gift means taking on years of responsibility for that animal’s care. Joaquin said they need to be taken to specialized vets, have a constant need to chew, and don’t typically enjoy being picked up or carried.
“I think a lot of people don’t really understand what a rabbit needs, or they don’t understand the commitment level that is needed for a rabbit,” she said. “Rabbits can live up to 12 years.”
As for adopting a rabbit from the centre, Joaquin said all bunnies are spayed or neutered before they are sent to new homes, along with being tattooed and microchipped. The adoption fee is $51.50 plus tax.
Those interested in fostering a rabbit can contact the shelter by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or calling 604-574-6622.
Other ways to help include donating rabbit-related items from the shelter’s Amazon wishlist, and making and donating a “rabbit care package.”
More information can be found on the centre’s Facebook page.