Ever a source of solid local beat reporting, today DNAinfo brings us maybe the worst possible news to get on the first day of spring: New York shelters are being overrun with abandoned bunnies. As with so many other animals, people take them in as adorable pets (particularly around Easter), then dump them on the street or in the park when they decide they’re over it. For some reason, though, the bunny thing has seen a huge uptick in the past few years.
In 2011, Animal Care & Control took in 283 rabbits; in 2012, 341; and in 2013, 380. One volunteer told the site, “I’ve never lived somewhere where this happens as often as it does here. We’re getting calls every week.” Another worker at the East Harlem location of Animal Control (which has its own designated “rabbit room”) estimated that the number of rabbits showing up has tripled in the seven years she’s worked at the site.
Prospect Park, Sunset Park and Poly Prep Country Day School are reportedly major “bunny-dumping grounds” once people get tired of cleaning poop out of a cage, though one owner of a rescue rabbit noted, “People don’t realize that they can be litter-box trained. There’s no smell, no barking. They’re wonderful little pets.” (If anyone has video of a rabbit successfully using a litter box, please send it my way ASAP).
A DNAinfo commenter posited one solution: “They should sell some of these “free range” rabbits to fancy lovacor resturants.. then they can buy food for the rest,” but the obvious, less gruesome alternative is not to buy an animal as a holiday prop in the first place. There’s a reason there are candy version of these things. In any case, maybe best to keep an eye out for “clueless, confused”-looking rabbits wandering the city streets. There are more of ’em than you’d think.
Follow Virginia K. Smith on Twitter @vksmith.