‘COVID bunny rabbits’ being returned, overwhelming rescue groups and some shelters

Dr. Gayle Roberts had never seen an injury like the one suffered by a domestic rabbit lying on her operating table Thursday, Aug. 4, at her veterinary office in Irvine.

The rabbit sustained compound fractures of both tibias, forming a kind of odd mobility enabling her to walk on the exposed bones for weeks. The leg wounds were infected. Mites filled both ears. Because fixing the legs would cause too much trauma, she cleaned out the ears and laid-in antibiotics to cure the infections.

But the heart of the white rabbit with black polka dots around the eyes stopped, most likely from a blood clot.

“She was such a sweet rabbit. I thought about adopting her myself,” Roberts said, processing the loss.

The wave of rabbit patients seen by veterinarians, combined with rabbit rescues throughout Southern California, along with calls from owners wishing to return the furry pets, has exploded. It’s the result of a buying spree during the early days of the coronavirus pandemic when parents looked for cute companions for locked-down children and teenagers.

Now that schools and workplaces are reopening, many owners are giving them back, overwhelming bunny rescue organizations and increasing the population in some animal shelters in the region. Some owners dump them in parks, neighborhoods or backyards where they are hit by cars, suffer falls or are attacked by predators.

“We are seeing more rabbits than we are seeing cats,” said Roberts, an experienced veterinarian and owner of Northwood Animal Hospital. She does a “Bunny Day” once a week and that usually means caring for 10 or more sick rabbits brought in by rescue groups, she said.

Bunny rescue organizations are swamped with emails and calls from owners of the cuddly pets who say they can no longer care for the animal and want to return it.

“It is so out of control,” …read more

Source:: Los Angeles Daily News

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