It’s soon time for Peter Cottontail to hop on down the bunny trail. Easter is just a few weeks away. But Peter Cottontail is already at the ARL, however. Well, actually it’s just Cottontail, the bunny who has been at the ARL since July –yes, July! We can’t explain why he’s been passed over time and again and waits patiently for his new home. He’s a wonderful guy! You may have seen him on the ARL’s BCTV show last week. He is sweet, affectionate and so soft. Some rabbits get upset from being caged for so long but not Cottontail. He’s an easygoing guy, looks forward to the daily visit from the volunteer who feeds the critters and cleans their cages, and loves to run around the critter room when it’s his turn to get some freedom.
I’m usually not one to push pets on people, especially when Easter is approaching. Statistics through the years in shelters have shown that bunnies get bought or adopted as gifts at Easter and then are surrendered to shelters or worse, dumped to fend for themselves, around summertime when families are too busy to care for the pet. The ARL has quite a few rabbits available for adoption but I’d really love to see Cottontail find his forever home. Will you consider him?
Here are some tips for caring for rabbits:
Allow your rabbit to live safely indoors! As a prey animal, outdoor life is a frightening and lonely existence. Outside temperatures above 80 degrees can be fatal. A social animal, rabbits appreciate the company and comfort of their own kind and of their humans. Playful and athletic, rabbits need room for exercise and socialization.
Spay and neuter!! Altering your rabbit not only improves their litter box habits and temperament, it provides health benefits as well. Unaltered rabbits are more likely to be stressed which makes them more susceptible to illness. Unspayed female rabbits are especially prone to health problems with an extraordinary risk for uterine cancer. Unaltered male rabbits may spray urine.
Adult rabbits need unlimited timothy or grass hay, a very limited amount of high-fiber pellets, and fresh green vegetables daily.
Take your rabbit to the veterinarian for regular checkups. Do not wait until an emergency arises to find a competent rabbit veterinarian. Rabbits are exotic animals and need a veterinarian experienced in their care. Establishing a health record with a rabbit-savvy veterinarian may save your rabbit’s life.
Mark your calendars for the Annual Easter Egg Hunt at the ARL on Saturday, April 16! There will be hundreds of eggs for the kids to find among the 10 acres here at the shelter. The hunt begins at 2:00pm. We also will be having an open house from 1:00pm until 4:00pm. Animals will be available for visiting and adoption.
So please come to the Open House and meet Cottontail and all of his other furry friends at the ARL.
We have a policy here at the ARL to write the most appealing and upbeat descriptions of adoptable pets as we possibly can for our web site, and the Petfinder and Adopt-a-Pet web sites. We want people to be interested enough about the pets from the descriptions to learn more about them. And we want people to be interested in a pet for the right reasons. Not because your heart is breaking.
What we don’t want to do is depress people. There’s nothing more upsetting than seeing page-after-page of pet photos with captions like “on death row” and “only 24 hours left”. You get the idea. Some people are so overcome with emotion by these heart-wrenching captions that they will try to take the pet, not regarding if they are financially able or if the pet suits their lifestyle. Pity and sadness are the wrong reasons to adopt.
The pet overpopulation problem is certainly distressing; we live it here every day at the ARL. But instead of upsetting people, we encourage everyone to do something about it. Volunteer, talk to people about adopting not buying pets, educate about spay and neuter, etc.
On tonight’s BCTV show at 7:00pm, Sarah McKillip, long-time animal lover, advocate and Events and Volunteer Manager at DVGRR, will talk with us about what everyone can do to pitch in and make a difference.
Seeing stray cats in many neighborhoods can be an everyday occurrence, yet some neighborhoods never have them. Luckily, I live in one of those areas where strays are a rarity. But we do have one every now and then, making it stand out all the more. Although we have community rules against allowing cats to roam outside, I am seeing two cats prowling the neighborhood recently. One morning, I even saw one cornered by a fox. I had to shoo the fox away! As the days passed, I saw the cat more frequently and it was usually hanging around the same group of homes. One day as I was walking my dog, I saw a neighbor outside and asked him if he knew if anyone owned the cat. He pointed to a specific house and shook his head in disgust. “They always leave the poor cat outside, no matter how cold it is.”
Okay, I had found the owners! Now what? Should I be a fink and contact the homeowners association? After all, we had some very cold, nasty days this winter and I can’t stand to see an animal not properly cared for. But would it do any good to report these people because, as we know, some people refuse to follow the rules and will do whatever they please. So I’ve held off on reporting the issue. And now that the weather is getting warmer, the cat is not in as much danger. But there are still plenty of fox and owls and hawks who would love to make him their dinner. Not to mention speeding cars.
And now there’s another roaming kitty. One day last week, I was walking through an adjacent neighborhood and spotted a gorgeous grey long-haired in the street. I had to talk to her and find out if she was wearing an ID tag. No tag, no collar. As I was petting this friendly and obviously owned cat, the door opened to the house across the street - a large, expensive home - and a woman emerged and said, “Don’t let her tell you any secrets. She’s has a great life.” Not being shy about anything to do with animals, I replied, “She has no ID. Someone could snatch her.” And the lady said, “I thought a collar might get caught on something and choke her.” I went on to explain that her cat was in danger roaming outside – cars, other animals, etc. In mid-sentence, she went back into the house and slammed the door. Hmm, I wasn’t convinced that this cat has a great life with this lady! A couple of days later, the same cat was in my neighborhood, walking across a main entrance area in considerable danger of getting hit by a car.
While I know that these cats are owned, I still couldn’t stand the thought of seeing them injured or killed. I don’t know if I could live with the guilt that I didn’t do anything about it. But what? Would you report the owners of the first cat to the homeowners association? And the other cat? She doesn’t live in our neighborhood. Should I catch her and take her to the SPCA?
The laws are clear with dogs but not so with cats. That’s a shame. Tell me, what would you do in my situation?
Not a Used Dog, At All
By Carol Erickson, illustrated by Jeff McCloskey
A little boy named Matt was insistent that he wanted a dog from a pet store in the mall. He did NOT want a used dog who had belonged to someone else already! He said that animal shelters were smelly, noisy places. But Matt’s mom knew better. As they pull up to the shelter, Matt sees a family leaving the shelter with their new dog, and they all climb into a limousine. It’s the President! When he sees this scene, Matt begins to consider adopting a dog, but just a little. He and his mom walk through the rows of cages and one particular black dog named Wiggles sat very still in the cage and just looked at Matt with an inquisitive face. The man who runs the animal shelter told Matt that Wiggles was looking for a “used kid.” And since Wiggles is a black dog, he will have a hard time getting adopted. Matt studies Wiggles – he isn’t fluffy, he isn’t pretty and he has a grey mustache, an older dog.
You must read Not a Used Dog, At All to find out if Matt gets his way and his parents buy him a puppy at a pet store, or if Matt takes Wiggles home! I love this book. The messages are great but subtle enough for young kids to learn the lessons yet enjoy the story. The illustrations will make you want to take home all of the cute dogs! Please buy this book for every child.
Pukka The Pup After Merle
By Ted Kerasote
I read Merle’s Door by Ted Kerasote immediately after I read Marley and Me, and I thought that Merle’s Door was so much better although it did not get the publicity of Marley. Ted lives in Wyoming and Merle’s Door is the story about a stray dog named Merle who “found” Ted and adopted him. Where Ted lives in Wyoming, there are no fences and no leashes. Dogs roam free and pal around with each other as nature intended. Merle’s story was just as fun as Marley’s, and his death at the end of the book is just as heart wrenching. Now Ted Kerasote has a new dog, Pukka, and he wrote a book about Pukka’s first months with Ted.
This book is not a story like Merle’s Door. It’s more of a picture book with lengthy captions. It’s a quick read and has that awe factor – adorable puppy pictures that make you long to live in a place where dogs can roam free without the restrictions of our city or suburban life.
If you haven’t read Merle’s Door, I highly recommend it and pick up Pukka The Pup After Merle just for the fun of it.