Rehoming Your Rabbit
House Rabbit Society is not a public intake shelter. Because of the overwhelming number of unwanted rabbits, we are only able to take in a few rabbits scheduled to be destroyed at animal shelters. It is a crime to abandon an animal. Animals left on our doorstep will be taken to the nearest public shelter.
Your best hope is to house the rabbit yourself (or board her) and advertise until you find the right home. Advertising is as simple as placing ads in local newspapers and on veterinarian, pet supply and supermarket bulletin boards. It is possible to find good homes for rabbits, but it takes time, commitment and strategy.
There are two steps to finding homes for rabbits. The first is to prepare the rabbit for adoption. This includes spaying or neutering, litterbox training, socializing, and learning bunny’s health status and personality. The second step is to aggressively seek an ideal home by advertising and screening callers for suitability.
Spaying or neutering makes a rabbit calmer and easier to litterbox train, and thus improves the chance of being adopted as an indoor companion. It also insures that no more unwanted rabbits will be produced after the rabbit leaves your home.
Litterbox training is achieved by fastening a litterbox to the side of the cage in the corner the rabbit uses as a bathroom. Once bunny is using the box, try him in a safe, bunny-proofed room with one or more litterboxes. (“Bunny-proofed’ means a place where items that rabbits find tempting to chew, such as house plants and telephone and electrical cords, have been placed out of reach.) In a matter of days a neutered rabbit can be advertised as “house-trained.”
The more attention you give your bunny, the more she will show off for prospective adopters. Petting the rabbit (most prefer the top of the head) will teach her to look for affection from humans. Follow up on any health problems with a trip to the vet, so you can tell the new owner what to expect.
When placing ads, state your rabbit’s strong points: “neutered,” “house-trained,” “affectionate,” friendly.” Asking a $10-$20 fee in the ad excludes callers wanting a free meal for their pet reptiles. people willing to commit to owning a rabbit will gladly pay an adoption fee.
To screen people who answer your ad, imagine what kind of home you want for your rabbit, and then stick to your ideal. Engage the caller in a conversation about their past pets to find out what they’re looking for in a pet. Explain that you are asking questions because you want the new owner and the rabbit to be happy. Present a realistic picture of what rabbits are like (see the enclosed brochure.) If you feel the home is not suitable, make an excuse. Politely tell the caller that your rabbit doesn’t do well with children, isn’t used to hutch-living, is scared of dogs, or whatever.
At House Rabbit Society, we look for indoor homes for our rabbits, so that they will enjoy lives that are both safe and social. The rabbit has a cage, but is allowed some supervised freedom daily. How soon a rabbit becomes an uncaged roommate depends on how bunny-proofed the home is and on the maturity and personality of the rabbit. The more involved the owner is, the more freedom the rabbit will be given. Another House Rabbit Society criteria is that an adult, not a child, be the rabbit’s primary care-giver. Good luck placing your rabbit.
To find your local shelter, see maps of local shelters.