Advice on Rehoming Your Rabbit
There are times – last-resort situations – when someone just can’t maintain their pet. In these situations, the decision to give up a pet should not be taken lightly. If you are struggling with your rabbit’s behavior, having problems with housing or litter box issues, or experiencing frustration or guilt over not being able to give your bunny enough attention, please donʼt lose heart.
Many times seemingly insurmountable problems can be overcome if you are willing to work on changing behavior and/or expectations, and it is possible to make life better for both you and your rabbit. As House Rabbit Society educators, we are here to help. The Harvey’s House website is filled with helpful tips and links to information about caring for your rabbit, including how to overcome some of a rabbit’s most challenging behaviors.
The Challenge of Rehoming
Itʼs not easy to find a home for any unwanted pet, but rabbits are more challenging because they are often seen as food, playthings, or worse. Because of this, you need to be careful and conscientious in screening potential new homes for your rabbit. Some points to consider to help you in this process include:
- Reach out to friends and family, even co-workers. People you know might be able to offer a home, or lead you to potentially good adoptive homes for your unwanted rabbit.
- Please do not offer your rabbit “free to a good home.” The reality is that some people are interested in your rabbit for food for themselves or their pet snake, for training their dogs to hunt, or to kill for sport. This is sad, but true. In this part of the country, dog fighting is a horrifying reality, and innocent animals are sometimes used as bait to train them. Asking for a rehoming fee provides at least a small safety net that the person is sincere in wanting your rabbit for a pet.
- If your rabbit isnʼt spayed or neutered, doing so will increase their chances of being adopted. If he or she is exhibiting behavioral problems, many times spaying or neutering will solve them. It will also eliminate the risk of more unwanted rabbits being born.
- Ask questions. It’s a simple step, but can eliminate the wrong potential adopters right from the start. If the person interested in taking on your rabbit can’t tell you who the vet will be, where the rabbit will live in the house, and how he intends to care for your rabbit, it is a good indication that this may not be a good next home for your rabbit.
- Do a home check before placing your rabbit, to be sure everything is as it should be before you turn over your bunny. Remember your bunny was a member of your family, and you owe it to him to be sure that he will be safe and well-cared-for in his new home.
Other Rehoming Considerations
At Harvey’s House, we don’t take in owner surrenders directly. Our main priority is taking in abandoned, neglected, and abused rabbits that are in danger of euthanasia at public shelters. If we were to take in owner-surrenders, those rabbits would take foster care space that could be made available to those rabbits on death row.
If, despite all efforts, you are unable to rehome your rabbit and make the decision to surrender him or her to a shelter, please be aware that not all shelters take in rabbits, you will need to do some research to verify that they will accept your bunny.
A final note: never EVER release your bunny “into the wild.” Being turned loose in a park, the woods, or any other open space is a death sentence to your rabbit. Your pet is a domestic rabbit, not a wild rabbit, and domestic rabbits can’t survive for more than a few days and will suffer from fear, dehydration, exposure, or being maimed or killed by predators. Please do not subject any rabbit to such a terrifying death. Many of our foster rabbits who have come in as strays are half-starved, wounded, dehydrated, or loaded with both internal and external parasites. No animal should have to suffer like this, especially not one who was a beloved pet. Abandoning your pet in a strange place to die frightened and alone is cruel. If you feel there are no other options, surrendering your pet to a shelter is the humane choice. It’s heartbreaking to realize that the odds of them being euthanized at the shelter are high, but it’s still a kinder choice than turning them loose to fend for themselves, and consigning them to a horrific end.
We hope after reading this you will reconsider giving up your pet rabbit. If you would like to talk to one of our educators about the issues that are leading you to rehome, please contact us either by email or phone. We will work with you to help you find a solution to the issues so you can once again enjoy your rabbit as part of your family.
For more information on rehoming, please go to www.rabbit.org/finding-a-home-for-anunwanted-rabbit/.