The Delta Community Animal Shelter has over a dozen rabbits looking for a home amid an increase in the number of bunnies being abandoned in the city.
To help remedy the situation, the shelter is encouraging those looking for a furry friend to consider rabbit adoption, and those who currently have rabbits to make sure they are spayed/neutered and under proper veterinary care.
“Most people don’t realize both the special veterinary care required and the length [of time] rabbits live — some up to 12 years. This leads to people getting rabbits when they are cute babies, often from backyard breeders or from people outside the reach of city bylaws,” the shelter said in a press release.
“People who obtain rabbits from these scenarios are often not given a clear understanding of the specialized care rabbits need. This leads to people quickly growing tired of their rabbit and abandoning them. As animal shelters are often full of ‘discarded’ rabbits, we often can’t help as quickly as we would like.”
Though the City of Delta has bylaw requirements limiting the sale of rabbits to approved rescues and requiring the animals be spayed/neutered prior to adoption, the shelter says it still sees many “intact” males and females come through its doors.
Further, most rabbits the shelter receives are found after they have been abandoned in a local park or neighbourhood.
“This is not only illegal, it can also lead to negative outcomes for the rabbit including death from starvation and predation,” the shelter said. “Before our team are able to round them up, about half of the abandoned rabbits fall prey to coyotes and eagles.”
Released pets are also vulnerable to diseases that don’t affect native species. In 2018 and 2019, feral populations in the Lower Mainland and on Vancouver Island were decimated by rabbit hemorrhagic disease, an extremely infectious virus that attacks blood vessels and organs and kills up to 95 per cent of infected rabbits.
There weren’t been any confirmed case of the disease in 2020 or 2021, and populations have since bounced back.
Those interested in adopting a rabbit can visit delta.ca/services/delta-community-animal-shelter/how-adopt or contact the Delta Community Animal Shelter by calling 604-940-7111 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. The shelter, located at 7505 Hopcott Rd. in Tilbury, is open by appointment from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday to Friday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday, with adoption viewing by appointment weekdays from noon to 5 p.m. and noon to 4 p.m. on weekends.
Anyone who knows of places that are selling rabbits in Delta is asked to call the city’s Property Use and Compliance Division at 604-940-7111.
— with files from Cole Schisler and Evan Hagedorn