A day before Easter many years ago, I was driving down a blue highway in Kentucky when I saw a sign “easter bunnies for sale -- baby rabbits $5.00 each” in front of a dilapidated farm house. I continued driving, wondering what would happen to the bunnies if they didn’t get a home -- would they be killed, fed to some huge sharp-toothed creature, bred, or skinned? I turned around.
In the few minutes it took me to reach the house, I worried over what my mom would think. Would she be mad that that I brought home another mouth to feed, or would she be okay with the fact that I may have saved the life of some completely adorable fuzzy animal?
I was greeted by a man who was clearly annoyed that his daughter’s rabbit had a litter -- he wanted them gone, and this tiny girl was not happy. As a low-income family, they could not afford another mouth to feed. The rabbits would be killed if they didn’t have a home by tomorrow.
There were six rabbits, fuzzy and white with red eyes, all piled on top of each other, whiskers twitching.
I saw a grey fluff and gently pulled out a small grey rabbit with autumn-colored eyes. She was mine.
I took her home, she slept with me, curiously exploring my bedroom and gnawing on the wood molding around the walls, my grandmother’s watercolor, clothes. We finally got a cage with rooms and so much space, and my mother embraced “Bunny Girl."
Bunny Girl turned out to be Bunny Boy, we found out later, and she lived to be about 9 years old.
I was in high school before I could take the responsibility of another living creature. That’s the way parents, I’ve always thought, looked at this too. Something that needs to be taken care of, fed, and loved. When you roll the idea around of buying a little baby chick or a little fuzzy rabbit for your son or daughter during the Easter season, remember that this little creature is going to turn into something bigger and will require money, attention, and patience. A few things that children tend to not have much of.
For this and every Easter, the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) wants to remind everyone that soft stuffed animals and other non-living gifts are a much better impulse buy for the little loved ones in your life.
In case you still want that fuzzy bunny or adorable little chick, there are many of these wonderful companions that do needs homes. Visit www.shelterpetproject.org to find a local shelter near you.
Photo credit: Michael Joosten