Pet Tales: Be cautious in giving pet bunnies as gifts




Last year when Paul was very small, he was a special Easter present for a little girl. In one short week, the child became bored with him, and Paul was taken to the Western Pennsylvania Humane Society. As the second Easter of his life draws near, Paul is still in the North Side shelter, waiting to be adopted into a permanent home.

Paul should be a cautionary tale for any parent or grandparent who wants to buy a live Easter bunny for a beloved child. Please give them a chocolate rabbit or a plush toy instead. That being said, rabbits do make quiet, cuddly, charming pets for many people. A shelter or rescue group, not a pet store, is the best place to adopt one.

The three big Allegheny County animal shelters have dozens and dozens of domestic rabbits in all sizes, colors and breeds. Shelters in surrounding counties undoubtedly have them, too. Check shelter websites to see adoptable bunny bios and photos.

Last year Paul was an Easter Bunny. This year he's part of the Snow Bunny adoption special at the WPHS (1101 Western Ave., Pittsburgh 15233).

For some reason, classic white rabbits don't get adopted as quickly as their more colorful counterparts. If you adopt a snow bunny from the Humane Society through March 19, you'll get a free metal exercise pen. That's a $40 value.

Paul's adoption fee is $50. You might pay less for a pet store bunny, but Paul has already been neutered and microchipped, and he's trained to use a litter box. Neutering rabbits not only prevents unwanted births, but also it helps them live longer and averts "hormone-related misbehavior," the rabbit rescuers tell me.

Paul has been socialized by volunteers, who make sure shelter bunnies get play time outside their cages. At regularly scheduled "bunny romps," Paul plays nicely with others, and has a special friend -- another white rabbit named Seneca. They retreat to a quiet corner and groom each other.

Also at the Humane Society is a 3-year-old black rabbit with a dainty white nose. Volunteers from the Rabbit Wranglers volunteer rescue group found her on the streets of Millvale where she had been abandoned outside in the bitter cold. Domestic rabbits cannot survive outside.

They named her Mildred -- a nod to the town where she was found -- and took her to the shelter. She was one of the first rabbits spayed, using a $500 Petco Foundation grant to Rabbit Wranglers (rabbitwranglers.org). At least 10 more rabbits will benefit from the grant.

Mildred is described as "sweet, social and friendly with children."

At the Animal Rescue League in Larimer (6620 Hamilton Ave., Pittsburgh 15206), rabbits are $45 for one or $60 for a bonded pair.

There's a Hug-A-Bun 1 to 3 p.m. March 24. Potential adopters can watch and meet the rabbits as they run, stretch and play in large exercise pens.

Animal Friends has Bun Runs today and 2:30-4 p.m March 23. Adoption fees are $60 for rabbits younger than 2.

Volunteers from the Pittsburgh House Rabbit Club will give free advice from 10 a.m. to noon every Saturday from today through Easter at Animal Nature in Regent Square (7610 Forbes Ave., Pittsburgh 15221).

Advice from the "Bunny Gurus" will include the kind of interaction and play that is needed, proper diet and where to buy the hay that rabbits eat. At least one live rabbit will be there to charm the public, according to a news release.

Free nutrition talk

Doug Knueven of Beaver Animal Clinic will be talking about pet foods from 7-8:30 p.m. Thursday at Larry's Laundromutt, 201 Ohio River Blvd., Edgeworth, 15143.

With 25 years of experience, this veterinarian is well known for expertise in natural nutrition and holistic health. The talk is free, but call the shop at 412-524-4052 to reserve a seat.

Beer tasting

"Erin Go Bark!" says the news release from Animal Friends. "All dogs can feel like Irish Setters" at the McBark & Brew St. Patrick's Day Beer Tasting. It's 7-8:30 p.m. Friday at the shelter, 562 Camp Horne Road, Ohio Township, 15237.

People can bring their dogs but must bring vaccination records. Maximum leash length is 6-feet; retractable leashes are not allowed.

Cost is $20 per person. Register at www.ThinkingOutsideTheCage.org or call 412-847-7055.

St. Patrick for cats

The St. Paddy's Day Pawtry 4 to 7 p.m. next Saturday promises Irish food, music and entertainment at the Venetia Community Center, 600 Venetia Road, Peters.

The "pawtry" benefits the Fluffy Jean Fund for Felines, an all-volunteer group that provides low-cost spay and neuter programs for felines residing in Washington County.

Tickets are $30 per person, and that includes "free beer." For tickets call Annie at 412-973-8037 or Faith at 724-941-3991.

Another St. Patrick's party

Animals Friends is having a Happy St. Pitty's Day party noon to 4 p.m. March 17 to celebrate the Ohio Township shelter's adoptable pit bulls and pit bull mixes. Leave pets at home -- They're not invited to this party.

There will be information about the breed, positive training methods and tools. Trucks from Oh My Grill and Dozen Cupcake will feed hungry people. Call 412-847-7000 for details.

Home show

Sam, the rescued fighting dog, and people from Hello Bully, will be at the Pittsburgh Home & Garden Show at 11 a.m. today. There has been some rescheduling at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center, and this is 30 minutes earlier than I reported in last week's column.

Sam will be at the PGU Showcase Stage in the second floor lobby. I'll be there, too.

Animals from other rescue groups will also be at the show, including Western Pennsylvania Humane Society, Animal Friends and Going Home Greyhounds.

Linda Wilson Fuoco: lfuoco@post-gazette.com or 412-263-3064. First Published March 9, 2013 5:00 AM




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