Getting a New Rabbit
By The Humane Society of the United States
You've decided to get a rabbit:you've learned what it takes toprovide great care and anappropriate diet, you've bunny-proofed your house, you'vefound a great rabbitveterinarian, and you're readyto give one or two (or more)special bunnies the attentionand exercise they need every day.You don't want to buy a bunny from a pet store becauseyou know that most of those animals come from mass-breeding facilities. So what are your options?
Animal shelters and rescue groups
After cats and dogs, rabbits are the species most oftensurrendered to animal shelters. Most rabbits lose theirhomes because of "people reasons," such as a move orthe owner's inability or unwillingness to care for the animal,not because the rabbit has behavioral or health problems.In addition to shelters, there are numerous private rabbitadoption agencies that are run by people with in-depthknowledge of rabbits. Most groups depend on volunteerswho provide foster care for homeless rabbits until theanimals find permanent placements. Many rabbit rescuegroups partner with local animal shelters, helping to placebunnies through their foster care networks.
Advantages to adoption
When you're ready to adopt, your local shelter or rabbitrescue group should be your first stop.Staff and volunteers at well-run shelters or rescue groupswork hard to keep the bunnies socialized and healthy. Theirhands-on experience with the rabbits will enable them tohelp you choose the right bunny for you. And unlike theteenage part-timers at your local pet store, the people atyour local shelter and rescue group can provide detailedinformation on bunny care and behavior and answerquestions you may have after adoption.Adoption fees vary, but the package may include acertificate for a free vet visit or a reduced cost spay orneuter surgery (if your bunny isn't already sterilized).
Finding the right agency
To find your local animal shelter, search online or visit (forAustralia)www.adoptapet.com.au. To locate a rescuegroup that specializes in rabbits, contact your local animalshelter or search online.When you contact a rescue group, be sure to find out asmuch as you can about the organization, how it cares for itsanimals, how it decides which animals are adoptable, andwhat other adoption and post-adoption services areavailable.
Buying from a breeder
Animal shelters and rescue groups should always be yourfirst stop on the quest for the right bunny. If they don't havethe right rabbit for you now, you can often be put on awaiting list.But if you've checked out local animal shelters and rabbitrescue groups and still haven't found "The One," you maybe wondering how to identify and locate a reputablebreeder.Good breeders are not in the business just to makemoney—they don't sell their rabbits to the first person whoshows up with cash in hand. A good breeder is one who ispersonally involved in each and every sale. He will neversell through a pet store or any other third party that doesnot allow him to meet the prospective family and make sureit's a good match.Too often, unsuspecting consumers buy animals from so-called backyard breeders, people who breed their pets tomake a little money on the side. They're not knowledgeableabout genetics and good breeding practices, and the resultis rabbits with health or temperament problems that maynot be discovered until years later.
When visiting a breeder, rememberthese tips:
The rabbits should appear happy and healthy.
The breeder's home and the rabbits' area shouldbe clean, well-maintained, and well-lit.
The breeder should have a strong relationship witha local veterinarian and should provide records andreferences about his rabbits' care.
The breeder should be able to explain commongenetic problems.
The breeder should be able to provide referencesfrom other families who have purchased rabbitsfrom him.
The breeder should be willing to serve as aresource and answer questions for the rest of therabbit's life.
The breeder should be involved with local, state, ornational breed clubs.
The breeder should provide a written contract witha health guarantee and encourage you to read andunderstand the contract fully before signing. Thiscontract should not require you to visit a certainveterinarian.
The breeder should be just as tough on you as youare with her. She should ask you questions aboutyour experiences with other rabbits, other pets, andshe should ask for a veterinary reference.
Don't buy a rabbit without personally visiting wherehe or she was born and raised. Take the time nowto find the right breeder and you'll thank yourself forthe rest of your rabbit's life.