Over 2,000 rabbits have been saved in KC thanks to The Missouri House Rabbit Society
A surge of rabbit adoptions happen near Easter, which is quickly approaching, and then they often get surrendered to organizations like the Missouri House Rabbit Society
Robin Rysavy established The Missouri House Rabbit Society in 1994 after a veterinarian had given her pet rabbit amoxicillin, a drug that kills rabbits by sterilizing the gut.
“I was just absolutely heartbroken,” says Rysavy.
After this horrific incident, she discovered The House Rabbit Handbook by Marinell Harriman, National House Rabbit Society founder. The book had a myriad of information about raising rabbits as a domesticated pet and Rysavy knew she wanted to start her own House Rabbit Society chapter.
The MOHRS was started after contacting Harriman and along came 15 years of memories both good and bad.
A woman needed help from the MOHRS after she found approximately 50 domestic rabbits in one of the barns on the property of the home she purchased. The people moving out had left these rabbits, who were continuing to breed and build burrows underground, after doing some projects with 4-H. Rysavy did not have the resources to take care of all of these bunnies because the MOHRS is not a shelter and is dependent on people willing to foster rabbits.
When COVID-19 hit, a lot of people offered to help foster rabbits because they were home more. After the winter holidays, people dropped out and Rysavy is hoping for more foster homes because there are currently less than 10 foster homes available.
Rabbits will be spayed or neutered before they go to foster homes if they have not been previously. The MOHRS primarily works with Dr. Brock Exline at the Kansas City Veterinary Clinic to provide low-cost spaying and neutering.
Rysavy is looking for two or three more veterinary clinics to help because the normal cost to spay or neuter rabbits is $300 and up. Not all veterinarians are trained in rabbit care and anatomy, just like the veterinarian that gave Rysavy’s rabbit amoxicillin. The MOHRS usually has 2-3 rabbits spayed or neutered per week.
Spaying and neutering rabbits can help rabbits live longer because the risk of reproductive cancer lowered and male rabbits will not be tempted to fight with other animals. Fixed rabbits are known to be calmer, more loving, and less destructive according to the House Rabbit Society.
The calm and loving nature is one of the reasons many parents feel like rabbits could be a great first pet for their child. However, Rysavy wants people to know this is not the case. Whenever parents want to adopt a rabbit for their child, she asks which adult is going to be the primary caretaker of the bunny because of the high amount of care and exercise they need.
Domestic rabbits should never be kept outside or in a cage but in an exercise pen so they do not feel as trapped. The MOHRS website’s section on rabbit care can provide more information.
“Who wants to have a very social creature stuck in a jail outside your home that maybe if you’re lucky gets visited once a day? Just not doable,” says Rysavy.
Rysavy has rejected adoptions for parents who feel as though their kids are mature enough to be responsible for a rabbit. She says she feels as though approximately 1% of kids have the maturity to give rabbits a good life.
Widespread misinformation about domesticated rabbits has made them one of the most abandoned pets in the United States. Rabbits can live up to 10 years, or potentially more, if well cared for. If you are considering adopting a real Easter bunny this year, be sure it is a commitment you are willing to have after spring has sprung. Rabbits available for adoption can be seen here.