Me: I'm going to help bunnies.
Brother: Playboy bunnies.
Me: No, bunny bunnies.
Brother: They're an invasive species.
Me: No, house bunnies.
Brother: Again, it sounds like we're talking about Playboy bunnies.
Me: [long sigh]
Brother: I'll come help. [pause] If it's Playboy bunnies. [pause] Maybe a halfway house for Playboy bunnies. [pause] Please.
As that conversation with my brother the humanitarian would suggest I volunteered with the Los Angeles Rabbits Foundation and the above was one of the nicer conversations I had about the experience.
Would you believe that telling someone your going to volunteer with rabbits it can lead to all out hostility? Well, it can and does. People want to know "Why?" you would do such a thing, and "What good?" helping rabbits could possibly do. Many went so far as to suggest that perhaps I should spend my time doing something that would "Make a difference."
How does practicing kindness in any shape, size, style, or task not help or make a difference?
As far as the rabbits, first I would like to point out the obvious - there are domestic and wild rabbits. Domestic rabbits, which humans historically bred for food, clothing, and pets are not exactly built for survival outdoors. LArabbits.org works with domestic rabbits.
Second, rabbits make excellent companion animals - especially for someone who spends time at home and needs a serious chill pill a la graduate students.
Third, how dare we breed rabbits or any animal (cats, dogs, etc.) then turn our back on them and say not our responsibility. It is our business now. We bred them for us, and guess what, they're either sitting ducks without us or can really wreck havoc on an environment. Built in our image it would seem.
I was thrilled to be able to work with The Los Angeles Rabbit Foundation, which helps abandoned domestic rabbits by promoting spay and neuter, providing education on their care, volunteering in shelters and humane societies, and by fostering and rehabilitating rescued rabbits until such time as suitable permanent homes can be found. The listings on their website are pretty cute/hilarious - it include bunnies with "bunnitude" and areas for single male and female rabbits looking to date.
From my day spent sitting in pens (see pic) and socializing (petting) the rabbits I learned that bunnies are very sensitive creatures. They mate for life, get depressed if their mate disappears, have tiny panic attacks if lifted off the ground (think hawks and eagles), they overheat quickly, generally do not like their underside rubbed, and can have a heart attack if they see a dog. That last point is important - owners of dogs and cats should be aware that one bark or snarl from your pet can startle a bunny out of it's senses - please be extra cautious if you see bunnies and outdoor events.
For all their sensitivities rabbits are also sweet pets who like to be loved on as this clip of "Pat" the bunny demonstrates. They are individuals who display, like cats and dogs, unique personalities. They are calming creatures, and when you sit with one for awhile you feel a little sense of peace and gratefulness that this small animal let you hang for awhile.
If you would like to volunteer or learn more about domestic rabbits go to LArabbits.org.
Try to be kind to animals okay - "You can judge the morality of a nation by the way the society treats its animals" - Mahatma Gandhi