Written by Long Island Rabbit Rescue Group Volunteer, Gina Pippia
As a volunteer with Long Island Rabbit Rescue Group (LIRRG), I assist in saving rabbits who have been cruelly “set free.” For the past eight years, I’ve seen and heard a lot of misconceptions about rabbits. Some of the biggest questions and statements I get are about pet rabbits living outside in hutches and that “the breeder told me they are happier outside, that they are outdoor pets.” When some people hear my rabbits live indoors with me, they are surprised.
Domestic rabbits should always be indoor rabbits, who are meant to be a part of the family. They lack the survival skills to live outdoors like their wild rabbit counterparts. Most of the rabbits we rescue were dumped out in the middle of nowhere, terrified and trying to figure it all out. Fact is, domestic rabbits do not stand a chance at surviving once they are released. When “set free” they are subjected to horrible deaths by predators (raccoons, hawks, dogs, and cats) and deadly parasites.
So, what do you do if you see a domestic rabbit in your yard or in your neighborhood? You can contact your local rescue group such as LIRRG. The group is run solely by volunteers who are trained in catching and caring for domestic rabbits. We do not have a shelter facility— all of our rabbits are housed in private homes— so if you can, offer to foster or find someone who is willing to foster. That way a rescue can be quickly arranged.
Once the rabbit is safe in foster care, we have them spayed/neutered and place them in loving, indoor homes. We are always seeking out volunteers to assist in rabbit care and fostering. As a foster mom of previous and current rabbits, I can tell you how incredibly rewarding it is. I have to admit that I’ve even had what we call “foster failures!” Colleen is my beautiful girl who was rescued from a park. She came to live with me as a foster but found this to be her forever home! Both of us are extremely lucky!
(Colleen living the good life with Gina. Photo’s by Gina Pippia.)
Bottom line: Research before you decide to add a rabbit to your family. Remember setting them loose does not make them free, it makes them food. LIRRG does not take most owner-surrendered rabbits but can aide in assisting you to re-home your rabbits if you are unable to care for them any longer. If you are interested in learning more, please visit LongIslandRabbitRescue.org and rabbit.org for more information. And please remember, adopt, don’t shop!