Yesterday I was getting ready to give a group tour of the shelter when someone started banging on our door.
“Excuse me. There’s a bunny in a cage at the end of your driveway. The cage was too big for me to get in my car to bring it to you, could you help?”
Well, I still had 25 minutes until my tour came so I hopped in my car and sure enough, at the end of the driveway was this:
They didn’t leave a note or anything but this is an obviously young bunny with a clean new cage and 2 mostly full bags of food and hay. This screams holiday gift gone wrong, but we’ll talk about that later. We brought our new guest into the shelter, determined that she was a healthy little girl, and we put her on the adoption floor where my tour group got the bonus treat of getting to name her: Buttercup.
Now this is usually the part where people get angry at the person who did this but this post isn’t about anger or shame, it’s about needing to have a conversation. So now I’m going to take a minute and talk to you directly, person who abandoned the bunny:
Here’s what I think happened. You planned what you thought was the best holiday surprise ever but it went south (which is why we ALWAYS ask all family members in a house to be on the same page before adopting and NEVER give a pet as a surprise gift). When it didn’t go the way you had hoped you felt ashamed that you gave a “bad” gift, upset that a family member was probably mad at you right then, and you just wanted to get rid of the “problem.” I think you figured the bunny would only be outside for a few minutes and that, with a fur coat on, it would be fine. And you know what, you were right. We got to the bunny in about 20 minutes, she’s safe and healthy and we will get her to a forever home. But it doesn’t always work out that way. Just last summer someone abandoned a baby chihuahua in our driveway and it died of heatstroke alone before anyone could get to it. Yesterday when you did this it was 35 outside but today it was 19 at the same time, more than cold enough to cause hypothermia in a small animal fur coat or no. Make no mistake, you and your rabbit got lucky.
I understand that it was probably embarrassing to bring your pet here, you had a bad taste in your mouth because of it, and you just wanted to get the whole thing over with. Moreover, I want to thank you for not abandoning her in the woods where she almost certainly would have died. However you and everyone out there who may face the same problem someday need to know that what you did isn’t as safe as you think it is. Something bad could have happened to your pet, something you didn’t intend; and you would have had to live with that for the rest of your life, the way the owner of that puppy will. That’s why we work so hard to make sure that people are aware that we are not going to shame them for surrendering their animal. We took in over 1,100 animals last year, believe me we’ve seen all sorts of reasons and we don’t judge. If you have an emergency, just come. To us or, a vet office, or even animal control. Don’t abandon your pet alone.