Windsor-Essex County Humane Society Tackles Rabbit Flood

Have you considered a rabbit as a pet? The Windsor-Essex County Humane Society took in so many bunnies this year that they are offering an adoption deal.

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Have you considered a rabbit as a pet? How about two?


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The Windsor-Essex County Humane Society is desperate in its search for potential rabbit owners after a year of having more rabbits than ever.

“All kinds of rabbits. We have practically all kinds of rabbits! “said Melanie Coulter, executive director of the local Humane Society.” And many of them are quite social. “

Coulter said the Humane Society has received 275 domesticated rabbits so far this year. That’s roughly double the number of rabbits the Humane Society received last year (131) and the year before (149).

It’s all part of an ongoing “rabbit crisis” being experienced by the Humane Society and animal shelter organizations in Ontario, Coulter said.

“It’s actually happening in Michigan, too,” Coulter said. “They told us that they had also been flooded with rabbits … It is definitely something that is very widespread.”

And the increase does not appear to be abating. In the last week alone, 13 rabbits were turned over to the Humane Society, just as the organization hoped to stop the surrendered rabbits.

A rabbit named Eckhart takes a break under the care of Sherry Leclaire from the Humane Society of Windsor-Essex County.  Photographed on November 26, 2021.
A rabbit named Eckhart takes a break under the care of Sherry Leclaire from the Humane Society of Windsor-Essex County. Photographed on November 26, 2021. Photo by Dax Melmer /Windsor Star

So the Windsor-Essex County Humane Society is offering a deal: For an adoption fee of just $ 50, the organization will spay or neuter the rabbit, treat it for parasites, and microchip it so it can give you a forever home.

Adopt two rabbits and the fee for the second will not be charged. In other words: Adopt one, get one free.

“It’s a great deal,” urged Coulter. “You can get a pair for only $ 50. That’s not the standard.”


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A wide variety of rabbits are currently available, Coulter said. There’s lop-eared Percy and his friend Dust Bunny. There’s a perky eared fluff ball named Chester, a lady named Cindy Hopper, and many more.

If this is your first time having a bunny, Coulter said the main thing to understand is that domesticated rabbits cannot be treated like large hamsters. They cannot be caged and left alone.

“Rabbits need time out of their cage. They need social interaction. They need to be fed hay to keep their digestive system healthy, ”Coulter explained.

“Think of them more like vegetarian cats.”

Domesticated rabbits eat hay at a shelter in Vancouver in this 2018 file photo.
Domesticated rabbits eat hay at a shelter in Vancouver in this 2018 file photo. Photo by Gerry Kahrmann /Postmedia News Group

If you want to feed your rabbit carrots, do so only on special occasions – root vegetables and fruits are not a natural part of a rabbit’s diet and should be considered treats. The majority of a domesticated rabbit’s diet should be hay, green leafy vegetables, and limited amounts of feed pellets.


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But just because rabbits are prey animals by nature doesn’t mean they can’t be affectionate. Coulter said that when a rabbit is comfortable with you and gets used to being handled, it can find pets and petting for you. “Usually they don’t like being picked up, but a lot of them really like the interaction on their own terms.”

As for why so many rabbits are being put up for adoption this year, Coulter said it’s a bit of a mystery.

“That is the big question. No one knows for sure. There is some suspicion that perhaps people got rabbits when they couldn’t find dogs to adopt at the height of the pandemic. But that’s just a suspicion. “

It probably didn’t help that rabbits can reproduce as fast as … well, rabbits. “That’s definitely a factor,” Coulter said. “Some of the rabbits we took were a lot from a single house.”

“Sometimes people buy rabbits and don’t know their sex. If they are opposites and have not been fixed, they can reproduce quite quickly. Suddenly, it’s more than the family can handle. “

To view rabbits for adoption at the Windsor-Essex County Humane Society, visit the “Small Animals” section of , or call 519-966-5751 for information on how to apply.

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