Dear Rabbit Abandoner
This powerful and heartfelt letter by Shana Abe says what all rescuers wish they could say. —Beth Woolbright, Letters Editor
I have your rabbit. I doubt that you care, but I do. She’s safe now, if very thin and very frightened. I’m slowly convincing her that I will not hurt her when my hand moves or when I offer her any delicious treat I can think of to woo her out of her state of wild-eyed dread.
I have your rabbit because, one day a month ago, I decided to walk my dog in the afternoon instead of the usual evening. That small decision is what saved the rabbit you used to own. My dog and I walked in the Colorado sunshine and passed an elderly woman on her knees in her front yard.
The woman asked, “Have you seen any signs for a lost rabbit?”
I had not. I always read the lost pet posters taped to trees. I rescue rabbits and would remember a lost one.
She squinted up at me. “Because a rabbit’s been living under my bushes for the past week, and I can’t catch it. I think it’s sick.”
I admit, Abandoner, that I hoped it was a wild rabbit, one I could pass off to a wildlife group. My home already contained four house rabbits, and I knew that if this one wasn’t wild, I’d have five house rabbits.
I peered beneath the bushes, and there was your bunny: a red-and-white Dutch, hunched up and staring back at me with the whites of her eyes showing round and bright as the moon.
A week outside meant that she had endured four days of heavy rains. She had survived the skulk of foxes living in the gutters, and the coyotes that prowl the sidewalks in the dark, hungry and hunting for unattended pets. The many dogs running around off-leash. The un-collared cats that roam anywhere and everywhere.
We’ve seen the cars stealing along the streets in the dead of night; dogs and cats—and at least one rabbit—tossed out of a hastily opened door before the car speeds away. It happens here all the damned time.
You never posted notices for your rabbit on the streets, in the newspaper, at the shelters or on the web, or responded to any of mine. But for one old woman with sharp eyes, but for my one chance decision to take a walk under sunlight instead of starlight, your little red rabbit would have surely died. By starvation, if she was lucky. More likely, though, she would have been torn apart and devoured.
I cannot imagine your selfishness. I cannot imagine what manner of soul-pinched human being would think that you were doing something right or good by forcing a helpless creature to run from you and hide under a stranger’s bushes for its life, especially when there are animal shelters across the city.
Perhaps you just didn’t want to deal with questions from the people there who actually care about animals, who would look you in the eyes and recognize the ugly heart inside you.
Or perhaps you convinced yourself you were doing her a favor by dumping her: one little anonymous car ride, and your mistake of a pet would be free to live wild or else become someone else’s responsibility. You never once considered that a domestic rabbit isn’t remotely a wily wild one.
Your rabbit is my rabbit now. She wasn’t sick, but she was emaciated and exhausted. I’ve named her Abigail. And today, for the first time, she let me stroke her head. She stretched out her neck and rested her chin on the floor and closed her eyes as I ran my fingers along her fur, assuming a posture of tentative pleasure and trust that I bet you never once had the patience to see.
So screw you.
HRJ Vol. 5, No. 7, Winter/Spring 2011