“I couldn’t have asked for it to be any better,” said Caroline Charland as she smiled and looked around the rabbit room during the grand opening of the Bunny Bunch Orange County. Opening this new location for her rabbit rescue and education organization has been a longtime dream for her and many of her volunteers. On November 3, 2012, the grand opening marked the first day rabbits were officially adoptable from this location.
Charland said that people were so excited about the event, that when she arrived at the Bunny Bunch OC location in Fountain Valley at 10:30 that morning, people were already waiting outside — and the event wasn’t scheduled to begin until 4 p.m.
At noon, a rabbit owner arrived with her rabbit for a scheduled bunny date with one of the adoptable rabbits. The date went well, and, because the owner was pre-approved, Honey the rabbit went to a new Forever Home that day. It was the first rabbit adoption for the grand opening. A second rabbit, Hershey, was on hold for adoption, pending a house check.
Charland also commented that the event brought in more people to sign up as volunteers to help out at the rescue. Now that the Bunny Bunch is running two locations, the new one in Fountain Valley and the original Burrow in Montclair, the duties and demands are more intense, and Charland knows she couldn’t do it without the help of many volunteers. “It’s not just me,” she said, “it’s everyone together doing this.”
She walked through the room giving a tour. A row of playpens on the end is reserved for guest bunnies every Saturday night. Charland said this gives pre-approved people who have personally rescued rabbits a chance to show the neutered and healthy rabbits, and possibly get them adopted out. This day’s guest bunnies include two separate bonded pairs, a group of five bunnies and one singleton.
The next row of playpens holds several large rabbits. Charland explained that two, Stormy and Rainbow, are permanent residents that attend Bunny Bunch rabbit education events to meet the public. A large, black rabbit named Blackberry came in as a biter, she said, but now he only bites if you hold him and ignore his signals to be let down. He needs to go to a home without children. Across from him is a large, brown rabbit named Big Daddy that is awaiting adoption.
One eye-catching playpen holds 10 white rabbits. These are a mother and her nine babies, which are now about a year old. They had been at the Burrow in Montclair, but this summer when the Burrow dealt with the large Ontario rescue, these 10 were moved to Charland’s home to free up space at the Burrow. Charland’s home had also been housing a few of the large rabbits, until open space at the Bunny Bunch OC allowed her to move them there.
This group of 10 has someone who’s interested in adopting them all, but it could be a year or two before that happens. For now, Charland said they have jobs as the official toy testers for the Bunny Bunch Boutique. Its redesigned website just launched, and Charland said the plan is to post videos of the rabbits doing toy testing.
Also in the room are 11 rabbits from another rescue that no longer had room; the Bunny Bunch OC just took them in.
Despite the name, the Bunny Bunch helps more than bunnies. In a corner nook are a few cages housing guinea pigs. A group of eight guinea pigs, six females and two males, had just been brought in the day before. They were found abandoned in a Huntington Beach park. Charland said the plan is to give the eight guinea pigs names of fruits or flowers. Another cage houses guinea pigs Bob and Bill, who were rescued by a volunteer and fostered at her home for a time. Bill has smooth fur, while Bob’s is kinda crazy.
With so many animals relying on them, the task seems Herculean, but Charland is full of confidence that it can be done. She’s already looking ahead to December 1 when the annual Christmas party at the Burrow in Montclair will also celebrate the five-year anniversary for the rescue — a respectable milestone.
Like the Burrow, Charland said the Bunny Bunch OC also offers services like free rabbit nail trims or scent gland cleaning (call to schedule). They are reaching out to Orange County pet stores to schedule adoption events. And Bunny Bunch OC will have a Christmas party on December 8. For now, it’s running a Fall Photo Fundraiser. Every Saturday until Thanksgiving, people can bring in their rabbit, guinea pig or chinchilla and pay a small fee to have its photo taken in a fall scene.
While confident and optimistic, Charland remains grounded in reality. After all, a second location means a second building to pay rent on, a second electrical bill, more supplies, etc. “We need [monetary] donations desperately to make this place run,” she said. Supplies like paper towels, white copy paper, 55-gallon trash bags and more are also needed and a wish list is posted on the website, but paying bills requires money.
Charland also hopes that a company will come forward to donate installation of a floor coating at the Bunny Bunch OC. Right now, clean up is more difficult because the floor isn’t coated. She pointed out that the flooring would actually be great publicity for any company, because the Bunny Bunch has so many visitors.
The Bunny Bunch OC is located at 10534 Bechler River Avenue, Fountain Valley, California. Phone 909-631-9552. Its hours for adoptions and the boutique are Wednesday, Thursday, Friday from noon to 6; Saturday from noon to 5 and Sunday from noon to 4. It’s open seven days a week for bunny sitting.
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