Why More Than 120 Rabbits Need Your Help

The BunnyLuv Rabbit Resource Center in Van Nuys, California, is full, and it’s getting more creative with fundraising efforts for the many rabbits depending on it.

rabbit sitting in hay
© Marylou Zarbock
The 52 rabbits rescued from a stable are mainly Dutch, New Zealand and Lionhead breeds.

This past Saturday, BunnyLuv Rabbit Resource Center held a fundraising picnic at its center in Van Nuys. Visitors could “ooh” and “aah” at the cute bunnies, participate in the raffle for gift baskets, bring a photo of their own rabbit(s) for the rabbit beauty contest, sponsor a bunny (or two), munch on some goodies, including Jamba Juice, and trade bunny stories.

Co-owners Sharon and Terry were busy, but found time to talk about BunnyLuv, past and present, and rabbits in general.

Sometimes, rescuing rabbits means getting peed on by a llama. At least that’s what happened to Terry during a recent rescue. In November 2012, BunnyLuv committed to rescuing a group of rabbits from a stable in L.A. County, a stable that also happened to have a llama in residence. Although the llama incident isn’t a happy memory, Terry is glad that the rescue was completed. BunnyLuv saved the lives of 52 rabbits in that rescue.

BunnyLuv Rabbit Resource Center is a nonprofit organization that began around 1986 when its founder discovered a stray pet rabbit in her yard. Terry and Sharon, the current co-owners of BunnyLuv, were early volunteers at BunnyLuv. The organization briefly kept rescued rabbits in the founder’s home, but it soon found stand-alone property for housing the bunnies. Zoning issues caused a few moves along the way until BunnyLuv settled in Van Nuys, California, in 1996. It’s been going strong there ever since, mainly rescuing bunnies who are scheduled for euthanasia by city shelters in L.A. County that BunnyLuv gets updates from.

The organization also occasionally takes on large-scale rescues like the “barn bunnies,” as they are affectionately called. As large as that was, it wasn’t the largest rescue BunnyLuv completed. In 2008 or 2009, it rescued more than 300 rabbits from a community college. That rescue took a few months.

BunnyLuv normally has about 50 rabbits in residence. The rescue of the barn bunnies doubled that. Sharon said that so far this year, BunnyLuv has adopted out about 20 bunnies, so they still have quite a few of the barn bunnies in residence. This is partially due to time and money. It takes time for rabbits to be old enough to spay or neuter, then it takes about $250 for each spay or neuter. Twenty of the barn bunnies still need to be spayed or neutered, plus another seven who were born to a pregnant rescued bunny.

Terry explains further, “It’s difficult to find permanent homes for indoor bunnies because we find Forever Homes. If we just gave them away, it would be quick.”

She added to this later. “Even though we are way over capacity, we never break our standard of who we will adopt to,” she said.

That standard includes the adopter giving the bunny a home indoors, the companionship of another bunny, proper diet and proper medical care when needed. Terry said that BunnyLuv does home-checks to ensure the standards are met.

BunnyLuv also ensures that any rabbits that are bonded are adopted out as bonded. Terry said they respect the bonds that rabbits form.

BunnyLuv does more than just save rabbit lives. It also educates rabbit owners. It holds classes on rabbit care and grooming, and it does community outreach. The organization also boards bunnies for vacationing owners and does bunny bonding.

Besides hearing about the rabbits in residence at BunnyLuv, the picnic offered a chance to hear from rabbit owners. The woman whose husband created the “Downton Abbey Rabbit Mansion” was there. (See the post from June 29 on the BunnyLuv Facebook page.)

The organization also occasionally takes on large-scale rescues like the “barn bunnies,” as they are affectionately called. As large as that was, it wasn’t the largest rescue BunnyLuv completed. In 2008 or 2009, it rescued more than 300 rabbits from a community college. That rescue took a few months.

Rabbit owner Melissa Plamondon was also there telling a wonderful story about her bunnies Mocha June and Valentino. Valentino was about 5 when his bunny friend died. Melissa decided to get him another bunny companion. She took Valentino for a bunny date, and he and Mocha June, who was about 2 at the time, spent six happy hours together. However, when she got them home, the rabbits fought. She’s been a rabbit owner for many years and began the process of bonding. She spent about 10 hours a week trying to get the two rabbits to bond. She followed every bit of bunny bonding advice she had ever heard. But after an entire year, the two bunnies were still living in separate pens. She brought them to BunnyLuv when she went on vacation. In the second week there, they bonded. That was more than seven months ago, and Mocha June and Valentino are happily living together.

In addition to hearing great stories, going to a rabbit picnic is a great learning experience. Terry explained that female rabbits are usually dominant. Nessie is a female rabbit that rules the “herd” section of BunnyLuv. This is a long, enclosed section along one of the walls that has a large group of spayed and neutered rabbits living together.

Rabbits’ dietary needs can change with age and health conditions. Signs on the rabbits’  exercise pens noted if a rabbit needed any special diet, such as oat hay. Terry said that hay and vegetables are the most important foods for healthy, adult rabbits.

The picnic is just one of the usual fundraisers BunnyLuv holds, but whenever the population gets high, as it is now, they get more creative with fundraising efforts. A silent auction at the picnic for the right to name a bunny is one example of creative fundraising. BunnyLuv also holds a big “BunnyFest” in October. Those started about 15 years ago. The events section of the BunnyLuv website will soon have details about it.

Although a lot of bunnies still need help, Terry is optimistic. She said there has been progress in educating people. “Things are better for bunnies now than 20 years ago,” she said.

See the video below of the BunnyLuv summer picnic!

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