I recently volunteered for The Rabbit Haven, an organization that my wife supports by fostering rabbits, for the major rescue effort at the Easterbrook Discovery School in the Moreland area of San Jose. Neighborhood residents were outraged when they realized that there were rabbits that had been dumped at the school and that those poor helpless creatures were getting attacked by dogs (while humans stood by and watched), were being shot with pellet guns and were being hunted by hawks. Some of the rabbits were just left where they had been attacked and ultimately died. It was a heartbreaking sight.
It is likely that the rabbits ended up in the school yard because people would drop them off there when they no longer wanted to take care of their “pet” rabbits. Neighbors only became aware of the issue when the extremely prolific 90 or so rabbits began to migrate into peoples’ yards! Now that all of the bunnies have been successfully rescued from this horrific situation, I have had time to rest and reflect on the experience. I have never seen anything like it and hope that I never will again.
Because I work at Humane Society Silicon Valley, I was able to offer my time with the rescue efforts and I was also able to help with the removal and cremation of the dead rabbits by having them cremated through HSSV’s cremation services, which is typically available to those people who have had to say goodbye to their elderly or very sick pets. I was so grateful these bunnies finally had a proper “goodbye” and that we were able to care for their bodies, even though we hadn’t been able to protect them in life. Thankfully, none of the rescued rabbits were euthanized and all are in the process of finding forever homes.
A group of 15 rescuers including my wife and me, started setting up traps (not actual traps, but x-pens to corral rabbits so we can catch them.) When I arrived on the first day at 7pm, I saw my first stray rabbit, then 2, then 3, until it was overwhelming. Knowing what people had done to these rabbits, I was determined to do whatever I could to get these rabbits into a safe place. Whether that meant crawling on the ground under bushes, chasing rabbits in a field into an x-pen where they can be corralled and caught, or staying till four in the morning to try to catch as many as I could. I should also mention that most of the rescue efforts took place at night with flashlights.
A lot of the times, it was a waiting game. They would hide under storage containers and buildings near the field in the school and we would setup x-pens and nets and camp out and wait.
I did stay until the late night hours many nights. I was indeed tired at work the next day a couple of times, but I went out anyways to try and rescue more rabbits. My wife and I did this for two weeks, everyday, until we did not see any more rabbits.
We ended up adopting one of those bunnies and she is one of the best pets I have ever had – and that’s saying a lot because we currently have 2 dogs, 2 cats, 6 rabbits, a horse, and a chinchilla. It took us five attempts on five different days, staying sometimes until two in the morning, watching and waiting. Now she has a forever home with us and she is happy and healthy. Her name is Spirit (pictured right) and she loves to cuddle. She is still understandably a little shy and is slowly learning that she can trust people.
Because I experienced first-hand how sad this situation was, I want to remind anyone who is thinking of getting a rabbit that spaying and neutering is a simple step to preventing situations like the one at Easterbrook Discovery School. And also, if you end up not wanting your rabbit anymore or can’t keep your rabbit, surrender him or her to a rescue organization or animal shelter, so a home can be found for them. Dumping should never be an option. The bunnies will thank you!