Resident Feature

Easing The Pet Shelter Crisis


 Pets are being surrendered at an alarming rate to Bay Area rescues and shelters. The need for finding homes for rabbits brings me back to when our family adopted our first bunny. I thought having a rabbit would be like having a guinea pig or hamster; a pet that would enjoy its life in a hutch and allow us to pet it once in a while. My eldest son was 12 at the time and had researched rabbits. Little did I know a rabbit would steal my heart. Our first bunny, adopted from East Bay Rabbit Rescue, was named Tansy. Only two and a half pounds, she was full of personality and spunk. Even our dog liked her, and that’s saying a lot because Corgis like to believe they’re the only animal on the planet. 

The day we adopted Tansy, East Bay Rabbit Rescue reviewed proper care with us, so we knew to start off differently. Instead of a hutch and water bottle, Tansy came home with a puppy exercise pen, litter box, water bowl and a hideaway. An exercise pen is less expensive than a hutch, while being spacious and easy to maintain. Since most rabbits do not like to be picked up, a bonus is that it is easy for the bunny to hop in and out on their own making it easier to integrate the bunny into a home.

Things that surprised me were that Tansy used a litter box perfectly, enjoyed hanging out with us humans, and loved to run around our home. I learned rabbits could be free roaming pets, just like dogs and cats, so that’s what we did. Having a free roam bunny is even more enjoyable because they become a member the family and bond. Just like dogs and cats, each rabbit has their own personality. Tansy slept under our bed and was a joy. Tansy developed health issues; we lost her after only a couple of years. Our home was empty without a bunny, so we adopted Luna from East Bay Rabbit Rescue.

Luna is a big bun, 11 pounds! This big sweetheart has lots of love to share. When I come home after being away, Luna will run to the door to greet me. When I lay down on the floor to pet her, she “grooms” me back by licking my hand or arm. 

Our family learned to love rabbits, every size and breed. And we’ve enjoyed giving back by volunteering and fostering. Our current foster, Notch, is a real love bug. He likes to come right up on my lap or on my chest when I’m lying in bed just to get pets. He is very curious, and I will often catch him up on his hind legs checking out what’s on a table or in the room. Sometimes I find him lounging on my bed or the sofa relaxing as if I put it there for him. Like most rabbits, he’s friendly towards anyone who wants to give him attention.

The best part about owning a rabbit is the love they give back to you. They know their name; they want to be near you (although not necessarily on your lap) and they become part of your family. You might be surprised to learn that a rabbit could be a perfect pet for you too.

From East Bay Rabbit Rescue, below are suggestions of how you can help during this crisis.

Adoption: Check out our available bunnies at and fill in an adoption questionnaire.

Fosters: We provide the basic set up. Fosters provide indoor space, a minimum of a 2 ft by 6 ft for the pen, hay, dark leafy greens, rabbit pellets and love. We ask for a 4-week commitment for foster homes. Email us at

Transport Volunteers: Our fosters often need help getting their foster bunny from the shelter to their house, to spay/neuter appointments and adoption appointments. If you have flexible hours and can help from time to time, your contribution would be significant. Email us at

Shelter Volunteers: There is a huge demand for shelter volunteers with shelters overflowing and short staffed. Contact your local shelter for details.

By Desiree Gatto