Sunday, April 21st 2019, 9:45 am - Maybe consider buying your loved one a chocolate bunny, as opposed to an actual rabbit for Easter.
When the Harry Potter film franchise first came out in the early 2000s, pet sales for owls dramatically increased. It was later dubbed ‘The Harry Potter Effect’ by researchers.
In 2012, owl sanctuaries in the U.K. saw an uptick in abandoned pet owls. Sanctuary workers at the time suggested that there might be a correlation between Harry Potter fans wanting to own owls and not realizing how much commitment caring for the animal would be.
“Beautiful, majestic, and as awe-inspiring as they may be, in captivity they can be noisy, smelly and dirty and will need a lot of your time, care and attention," a sanctuary explained on its website.
A similar phenomenon is also known to happen in April/May when it’s Easter season.
Bunnies adopted during Easter tend to get dumped or abandoned months later once they start maturing, says Haviva Porter, Director of Rabbit Rescue Incorporated, a registered ‘No Kill’ charity in Southern Ontario.
“We see an increase around June,” Porter says. “Winter is also a bad time. By then everyone is sick of their ‘Easter bunny.’”
Porter has seen reports where rabbits have frozen to death or have had their ears amputated from being left in the cold.
“Rabbits are really high-stress animals,” she adds.
According to the Ontario SPCA and Humane Society, rabbits aren’t the best starter pets for young children, because they’re “delicate and frighten easily.” When provoked, it’s possible for the rabbit to bite, scratch, or kick in relation. When being picked up, it’s necessary that rabbits have support in their front and hindquarters, otherwise, they can seriously hurt their spine.
Rabbits also require regular exercise with an open play area. Keeping them locked in a cage is not a good idea since they need space to run and jump.
SO WHY DO SO MANY RABBITS GET ADOPTED DURING EASTER TIME?
For starters, rabbits are inexpensive in comparison to other pets, which is why people don’t put as much thought and research when adopting them. Rabbits are a long-term commitment, and it’s not uncommon for them to live for 13-14 years.
Breeders are also not always educated about the animal they’re selling. “They’ll give out the wrong information, and the rabbit will get sick,” says Porter.
WHAT’S A GOOD ALTERNATIVE?
For people who are uncertain about whether they want to take the step of welcoming a rabbit into their family - fostering is a good option. When it comes to fostering an animal, the long-term commitment isn’t there.
“You’re saving a life…and you can see if it’s the right pet before making the commitment,” says Porter.