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The Easter Bunny and Me

By Michele C. Hollow of Pet News and Views

Someone, who I was close to, called me up to say that she wanted to get rid of her daughter’s bunny. They got another pet and her daughter lost interest in the bunny. The rabbit was an Easter gift four years ago.

This person wanted to know if I knew of a place where they could unload the rabbit. Replacing one pet for another is a bad lesson to teach a child.

All Animals Need Our Love
When I was 13, I took zoology classes at the Bronx Zoological Society. I grew up in the Bronx, and went to the zoo every Saturday to learn about animals. In the summer, when I graduated from the program, I had a choice to either volunteer at the Bronx Zoo or the Central Park Zoo.

Being in Manhattan was far cooler; so, I chose to volunteer at the Central Park Zoo. While at the zoo, I got close to several animals. I was allowed to handle a sparrow hawk, a boa constrictor, and I made friends with ducks, lambs, sheep, goats and other animals in the Children’s Zoo. My favorite was a lamb.

Photo courtesy of Farm Sanctuary, who believes that animals should not be given as gifts.

I was at the zoo every Tuesday and Thursday. It was my last week in August before going back to school. I raced to the Children’s Zoo looking for the lamb. I found out from one of the zoo keepers that he died. I just started sobbing. The zoo keeper took me into the monkey cage with Panzee, a friendly young chimpanzee.

Panzee saw how sad I was and immediately gave me a hug. He sat on my lap as I cried. I don’t remember the zoo keeper’s name, yet I clearly remember he said: “You must love all of the animals equally.”

Pointing to Panzee, he said, “How do you think he would feel if you liked one animal better than him? You really must share your love. Whether, it’s chimpanzees, lambs, goats, cats or dogs, you will have a number of animals in your life, and all of them will be special.”

Fast Forward
The day I brought my son, Jordon, home from the hospital—10 years ago—a nurse asked me what was I going to do with my cat. I talked a lot about missing my cat, Earl, while I was in the hospital. So, I guess she overheard me.

I honestly didn’t understand the question. Then I learned that many people abandon their pets at shelters when they bring home their first child, when they get married, when they want a different pet, when they move, etc.

I had no thought of giving up Earl. Today Earl and Jordon are friends, and Jordon cares about animals.

Different Strokes
If you are reading this, you probably love animals. I tend to like animal-friendly people. I also respect people who don’t like animals. One of my sisters-in-law never wanted a pet, and won’t get one.

What angers me are the people who get a pet and then decide it’s too much work. I have no tolerance for them.

Back to the Easter Bunny
Please tell everyone you know NOT to get a pet for Easter. When you are ready to get a pet, go to your local shelter or rescue group. Talk to pet owners to find out how much work is involved. And when you are truly ready to be a pet parent, go for it—just know you are in it for the long haul—rewards and all.

46 comments to The Easter Bunny and Me

  • Carol Hupp

    Thanks Michele, I also love all animals while my sister on the other hand says “if I had to have an animal, I guess it would be a cat”. Big difference as I take whatever animal needs me at the time even squirrels and rabbits.

  • LittleStar

    YOU KNOW how I feel about ALL the animals. To think that they would call you to find out where to “dump” the bunny…seems like an insult all the way around.
    I just wish that people would stop trying to follow the Old Pagan ways of a gift of a peep chick, baby bunny or lamb for OSTARA (Easter)if they have no intention of following through with the ceremony…which is to watch, and CHERISH, the Life renewed, which these animals represent.

    May I slap those people…Please, Michi? :D

  • Lin Penrose

    Hi Michele, This story brings home to me how important animals are as individuals, just as we are.
    The furry or not furry, friends are work to care for as situations and ages change, as I know from experiences of at least 55 years with domestic pals in my life. You must think from their repective as well as yours. They do have feelings and needs, as we do. Luckily, my parents Did help with those lessons.

    Thank you, I hope many parents and children read and learn from your article.

    Smiles,
    Lin

  • I wholeheartedly agree! Pets are never a good idea for gifts! Easter, Birthdays, Christmas or otherwise! This is a recipe for disaster! Shelters are full of bunnies after Easter and full of puppies after Christmas. Bad idea all around! Thank you for the reminder.

  • Thank you Michele for this wonderful article, I have four dogs and they are big part of my family. I also am a animal lover all of them. Hugs Mary

  • Well, I lost a friend over this, but how good a friend could this be if she thinks this way. I agree with you Little Star–Michele

  • Henriette Matthijssen

    Thanks Michele,
    You are absolutely right on all counts! All animals must be loved equally & only get a pet if it is for a lifetime as they are well deserving to be looked & taken care of forever! Happy Easter to you Dear Friend!

  • Kim O

    Excellent article Michele! The University in Victoria near where I live has been a dumping ground for bunnies for years. They became a huge problem there. It took a lot to get the bunnies removed instead of killed. Most people don’t realize that when they get bored or whatever with the animal and dump it, that they’re signing it’s death warrant. Most of these animals have never lived in the wild and can’t survive. Thanks for getting this message out in time for Easter! Animals make TERRIBLE presents!!

  • Anne

    What an utter lack of compassion and responsibility! The daughter needs to be taught these virtues through having a pet that relies on her love and care. A parent that trades in a pet like a worn out old car should not be raising children and teaching them to be irresponsible, uncaring people.

  • Patrick M. Donovan

    I whole heartedly agree: animals are not toys. They are living beings, the same as us. The basic issue is simple: “The question is not, can they reason? Nor, can they talk? But, can they suffer?” (Jeremy Bentham, philosopher and animal rights activist; 1748-1832.)

  • Madeline C Baxter

    Rabbit abuse is not a human habit. it is a human mistake.

  • I’ve seen a few bunnies that are clearly not wild rabbits, in my neighbourhood, and it makes me sad. These “released” rabbits have no skills for living outdoors and will more than likely come to a bad end.

    P.S. What wise words from an zoo keeper!

  • Sharon Balloch

    I twice this Christmas time asked World Vision not to send me any more requests to send bunnies to children for Christmas..or a lamb.. who gives a child a present they can later eat?? Sickened me.. NO Bunnies for Fertility Day(easter) and NO Bunnies for Christmas.

  • Ronni Goddard

    This is a timely reminder to anyone that is planning to make easter ‘special’ by giving a live rabbit as a pet, to think again. To paraphrase that old slogan – ‘A Rabbit is for Life, not just for Easter’
    Shared on Facebook.
    Great article, as ever, Michelle; thanks.

  • Elsie A.

    I don’t agree with anyone who give animals as gift, animals are not objects, they are living beings. I love cat and has 6 cats at home (all are rescued, of course) but I make it obvious for anyone that I don’t want them to buy cat as a gift for me.

  • Michele, I love this post. I am going to share with our friends at The Tiniest Tiger. Thank you for caring for all animals.

  • irene gill

    Thats a lovely story with a very good message. Its parents that should teach their children to love and respect all animals, unfortunatly too many parents don’t bother to teach their kids anything, thats why this world is in such a mess. Thanks for sharing.

  • K Karnopp

    I have a caT who I adopTed on December 2006 and he is one of The sweeTesT caTs I know. We need To be kind To animals and Those who are noT kind To animals do noT deserve a peT. I have always been surrounded by peTs because ThaT is The way my family was. My caT now is my second caT in my life since I moved ouT on my own in 1989 and my firsT caT was adopTed in 1990.

  • Gillian A

    Great points you’re making Michele, just in time for Easter – but WHAT HAS HAPPENED TO THIS BUNNY?!

  • Patty

    Thanks for the timely post, Michele. People should never give pets to children as gifts unless they are going to teach them to care for them and care about them.

  • Every pet deserves love and respect and to have all its needs met. All types of pets require work and commitment. I think that rabbits are very misunderstood. A rabbit can live up to 12 years and requires regular veterinary care just like a dog or cat. Rabbits require hay as their main source of food. Not just any hay, but timothy based hay. Rabbits require special bedding that does not include softwood shavings (hardwood is OK). Commercial pelleted food can be given in small amounts, but it not to be their main diet and must be made of specific ingredients (not all rabbit pellets are created equal). Rabbits also need some salad every day, but not too much. They love carrots, but it is not good for them to have too much. They also love fruit – but again too much is not good for them. Rabbits should not be fed nuts or processed human food (crackers etc). Rabbits are social and they need to interact with the family and get lots of exercise. They need supervision, however, as they can damage furniture and could be electrocuted if they chew power cords (rabbits love to chew on plastic-coated wires_. Rabbits need protection from other pets, such as dogs and cats (sometimes the dog or cat needs protection from a fiesty rabbit). Rabbits can be sweet and gentle if they are raised and handled properly, but if rabbits become afraid, or territorial about their cage or food, they can become aggressive. Rabbits are very smart and be trained just like a dog. Clicker training is the best way to train a rabbit. You can teach any trick or cure any behavior problem with clicker training. You can see that a rabbit is not a simple uncomplicated pet that you can just stick in a cage and forget about. A rabbit takes a lot of work and love, which will be rewarded with many years of having a wonderful pet. Think hard and do your research before getting a rabbit. Choose your perfect rabbit pet from your local shelter. Thousands of wonderful rabbits are waiting for homes.

  • I’m so happy to hear from so many vegans here! You are all vegans; right? If not, please think about it. Why do we lament that someone would dump a bunny while sitting down to eat a lamb? Any sentient being has the right not to be killed or harmed for the frivolous appetites of humans. We should give the gift of compassion to all animals and to our children.

  • I group-up surround by assotment of animals that continued adulthood; had a budgie when meeting my husband and never gave a thought regards leaving it. Years later with a family of two, decided it was time to for fill my dream of having a dog; after lengthy talks with the two children making absolutely they understood what meant to them. I got my 1st dog, the children learnt agreat deal. Nobody should have a pet of any kind, unless they’re 100% certain they love for 13-15yrs or longer.

  • Hansell

    When will some parents get a backbone and tell the brat, no bunnies this year, nor lambs at Christmas, it’s the parents fault these little brats are so demanding!

  • Another excellent post, Michele. I’ve been doing dog rescue for 18 years and see this all the time. It’s especially heartbreaking when the animals are seniors and have given lifelong love and companionship to their people. Chicks are another victim of the Easter buying impulse.

  • Hi Gillian, The mom is contacting the people who she bought the bunny from 4 years ago. If they will take it back, they will go that route. If not, she will keep it and care for it. I just worry that it will take a back seat to the other pet.–Michele

  • I just don’t understand how a woman could take a healthy, sweet cat she’d had since a kitten (3 years) and dump her at a high kill shelter because she was going to move into an apartment that wouldn’t allow cats. Where is her heart, conscience, compassion, brain and sense of loyalty? (obviously she didn’t have any of the above!) Such were the circumstances with Daisy, a beautiful gray DLH that our rescue took in yesterday. Some people just aren’t good enough to have animals in their lives.

    Great post. My sentiments exactly.

  • Bonita H

    I know several people that have “decided” to give up their pets, even know of one old hermit that took his dog of many years (because he was old dog) out to the woods and left him for the coyotes to eat. I do not know how anyone with a heart could do such things, I have loved and lost many animals and I do not regret having or loving any of them. They were all loved and taken care of very well. I miss each and every one of them. My beloved pup now is a wild one—she is unconventional to say the least–but I would never give her up.

    People that give up their animals because they are “tired” of them should never be allowed to have another animal again. And the children should be taught to take care of their pets with great supervision.

    Sorry for going on—-my heart aches for all the lost and hurt animals.

    Thanks Michele

  • Laura

    A rabbit is not an appropriate pet for most children under, say, age 12. It was not a very well-considered decision to begin with, and I agree that allowing the child to replace the rabbit with another pet would be a terrible lesson. That said, if the kid doesn’t like/want/take care of the rabbit, it would probably be in bunny’s best interest to find a more loving home.

  • Lisa

    Great post Michele. Thanks. :)

  • Debbie, Thank you for working at a shelter. I know it must be painfully hard at times–especially when you encounter people that return animals. I agree that some people should not have animals. Michele

  • Buffy

    Hi Michele, I love animals so much. When I look deep into my animals eyes, I do cry. The feeling of love is so big. How can anybody want to harm them. The only thing animals are about is peace, love with no ends.
    I do believe, animals deserve a respected place in this world. Is our duty to try to save and help as many as we can and the way each one of us can. They deserve!!!!

  • Jerneja

    Michele, great post as usual! I just got mad with a friend of mine, who got a 6 week old kittie for her 5 yo daughter and of course her daugter lost interest in 3 days. I just hope they will take good care of her for the rest of her life.

  • Jill

    Thanks Michele, that was very moving…what you say is exactly right too. I think many women get asked the same question when they have a baby, what are they going to do with their cats? My M.I.Law told me to get rid of my cats, ha ha ha…I dont remember if I bothered to answer her. I did accept a little cat net from her for the baby cot thingy, but didnt ever need it… My children grew up with animals all around them and today feel the same way that I do. I would think twice about being someones friend if they got rid of their cat when they bought their baby home!

  • Jerneja, I just don’t get people sometimes. Age 8 is perfect for getting a pet, but the child must be supervised, and must show some responsibility in taking care of the pet.–Michele

  • Jill, You raised your children wisely! Michele

  • Gillian A

    Thanks for your response Michele, but is there some way this dear bunny could be networked if its original owners won’t take it back? I hate to think of any pet having to take a back seat to others, this is not fair and not healthy. Perhaps Bunny could find a kinder, better home elsewhere outside either of these “return” options?

  • Hi Gillian, Right now, she is keeping the bunny, and is taking care of it. It doesn’t get loads of attention, but it is getting some. I spoke to her about it because this really upset me. She is still looking for a home for the bunny.–Michele

  • Gillian A

    Thanks again Michele. Where is this bunny actually located?

    Gillian

  • Chris E.

    Thank you Michelle, everyone needs to read this. I have always had and rescued rabbits all my life; since the crib. I cannot see my life without them.

  • Thanks for sharing this life experience. I can’t imagine tossing a pet away. I recently had a conversation with a neighbor who had adopted a feral cat several years ago. When, after a month, the cat didn’t interact with them enough they brought the cat back to the shelter where they got it. Animals are work, no matter what. When people commit to taking in an animal, they need to take it seriously.

  • Chris, I would love to hear about your early rescue adventures.–Michele

  • Every single animal and pet needs to be considered and treated with respect and seen as a living being with a feeling soul inside. Animals might have 4 legs, fur or feathers or scales. But on the inside they are no different than how we people feel, think, and need to be loved and cared for. Regardless of the species or breed – before adopting an animal one needs to be 100% certain of this decision which should also include a contingency plan – a what if plan. Meaning what will you do with your pet if the unmentionable event happens in your life. Be honest and upfront with yourself and if sharing your home with others that they share your commitment to caring for the animal for sickness and in health, for better or worst, etc… Only if all aspects of responsibility for the animal and its well being are met – should adoption become an option.

  • I never really had pets because I know I couldn’t care well enough for them. But my son wants a bunny and I’m worried that he may not be responsible enough to care for it properly. Two weeks ago I borrowed a book on how to raise bunnies and he never bothered to read it until I had to nag him about it. I don’t know…. He wants it for his birthday and I really want to make him happy, but I do think if he’s serious about the bunny then he should be interested enough to know more about it.

  • Good point Chiqui, Can you take him to the local zoo and see if there is a program he can join or volunteer in? When I was young, I learned about animals at my local zoo. I was able to volunteer, and under the supervision of zoo keepers, I was able to take care and play with the animals. If you can get him around animals and watch how he interacts, that is a start.–Michele