2017 Conference Class Descriptions

Working with Aggressive Rabbits

Preventing aggression in a rabbit can be accomplished through utilizing very simple and logical care and handling methods, but that simple logic isn’t necessarily intuitive thanks to all of the incorrect information that the public has heard over the years. Much of what the public has heard about rabbits can actually cause a rabbit to become aggressive in a frightening number of ways. Join us to learn the steps to deter rabbits from becoming aggressive, and to gain some ideas for how to respond to a rabbit that has become aggressive.

Helping the Public Keep Their Rabbits at Home

There are many reasons why rabbits are surrendered or returned to rescue groups. How can we reduce the phenomenon of returns, while at the same time helping reconcile rabbits and their human caregivers? This talk will discuss ways in which rescuers can repair these broken relationships through both hands-on and educational services with the aim of strengthening the human/animal bond and creating a better life for rabbits.

Creating Successful Rescue-Veterinarian Partnerships

Having an exotic animal hospital partner with your rescue is a definite bonus as it offers your group the opportunity to get quality veterinary care at a discount.  It’s not only a benefit to you; your veterinarian will benefit as well.  Carmine Bausone, DVM, medical director and part owner of VCA Acacia Animal Hospital in Escondido, California, will discuss ways to partner with vet hospitals and how to create partnerships that run smoothly and are beneficial to both the rescue and the vet.  VCA Acacia not only partners with San Diego HRS, they support local shelters and several other animal rescues in the region.

The Vet Doesn’t Open Until 8am and OH NO! There’s a Problem: what rabbit caretakers can do before the doctor is in

When there’s a problem with a pet rabbit, getting to a rabbit-savvy vet is a priority. But depending on where owners and caretakers live, there might be a gap between recognition of illness or injury, and the ability to get to an open medical facility.  In this lecture, Dr. Siperstein will discuss the good and not so good ideas for getting through that difficult window until you can seek professional veterinary care.

Growing Your Organization: Anyone Can do it!

Growing House Rabbit Society chapters, or other rabbit rescue organizations, are vital to helping rabbits. The more a group grows, the more experience a group has, the more volunteers and supporters a chapter or other organization gains, and the more the group thrives. When that happens, more rabbits can be helped and the more the public can learn the truth about rabbits as wonderful, indoor animal companions. You don’t have to be a chapter manager or even nonprofit manager to help your group grow. This class is for all volunteers who want to help their organizations expand and succeed.

Rabbits’ Experience of Vision—Rethinking Prior Assumptions

Three common assumptions about rabbit vision are that rabbits have a nearly 360 degree visual field, have lateral (side) views that are fuzzy or grainy, and have a frontal view that is either lacking in depth perception or, almost in contradiction, an area of sharpest acuity. The talk will revisit these ideas by looking at the original 1971 study that maintained that rabbits have “eyes in back of their heads.” It will interrogate this assumption by looking at rabbit visual behavior and new research on human peripheral vision that might well apply to rabbits. The talk will argue that the nature of lateral vision in rabbits, as well as the practice of shifting between large visual fields, produces a specialized form of awareness (consciousness) enmeshed in a particular world view.

Community Outreach – Activities, Events, Strategies and Publicity

Getting the word out: That’s the push behind community outreach and it can be done in a variety of ways from serious education, to fun events, to community-based  initiatives. Community outreach can help with adoptions, can help people learn more about rabbits, and can aid in fundraising. Come participate and gain ideas to get your educational efforts accepted in the community. Outreach goes a long way towards helping bunnies!

Rabbit Health: Newest Treatment Protocols & Time Tested Effective Ones plus the current thoughts on EC

One of the most exciting elements of veterinary medicine is its dynamic nature. Our constant quest for knowledge continually feeds the desire to find more effective and safer treatments for pet rabbits. Increased access to advanced diagnostics helps provide answers that were previously unknown. In this lecture we will focus on these new methods, including current thoughts on diagnosing an treating Encephalitozoon cuniculi (EC), in addition to treatments that have stood the test of time.

Emergency Rabbit Confiscations: How to Quickly Mobilize an Effective Rescue Response: Case Studies

To effectively manage an unplanned influx of rabbits, whether small or large numbers, it is critical to have an Emergency Preparedness plan. This talk will focus on five case studies that have saved 1000+ rabbits. Each case study will illustrate the importance of one part of an effective plan: capturing and managing feral domestic rabbit colonies; media relations; volunteers providing hands on (shelter) care/medical triage; rabbit-savvy veterinary care and high volume spay/neuter; and extensive relationship building, networking and rescue transfers.

The Rabbits of Okunoshima: Rewilding the Domestic or Domesticating the Wild?

Okunoshima Island, located in the Hiroshima Prefecture in southern Japan, has been host to a large population of feral rabbits since at least the 1970s, if not before. The rabbits of the island have limited access to vegetation and water, and thus rely on the tourists who feed them; the number of tourists has radically increased since 2006, and with that, the number of rabbits has increased as well, to a current estimated population of 1000. These rabbits display a fascinating combination of wild and domesticated traits, and the level of “wildness” or “tameness” differs based on where on the island the rabbits live. The presenters’ ethnographic research focuses on the rabbits of Okunoshima, and addresses their behavior and how they have been transformed by their liminal—and precarious—position and their relationships with the humans who, to some extent, shape their lives. Because they are both cared for, and threatened, by humans, the rabbits have developed a number of unique behaviors which would be of great interest to both domesticated and wild rabbit researchers.

Fundraising and Using Social Media to Help Rabbits

Do you need money to help rabbits? Get your rabbit rescue fundraising to the next level with tips and new ideas with Anne Martin, HRS Executive Director and Sandy Parshall, HRS Program Manager. We’ll cover choosing and managing a donor database, corporate matching programs, developing relationships with businesses, ideas for fundraising projects, donor/giving trends, and social media best practices. And all focused on rabbits, with proven strategies that have worked for House Rabbit Society.

Recruiting, Training, and Retaining a Solid Volunteer Corps

Organizations that are great at saving lives are also great at effectively engaging volunteers. This session will review successful ways to recruit, train, and retain volunteers, providing a framework that helps build effective, sustainable and comprehensive volunteer engagement programs. You’ll learn about best practices in volunteer program development to take your volunteer programs to a new level.

Staying Strong in Animal Rescue

Maintaining one’s strength in animal rescue work can present us with challenges that sometimes stretch us to our very limits even though this work comes from compassion, love and a compelling desire to help animals in need. During this session a collection of ideas, strategies and stories will be shared to help the rescuer continue the important work while also caring for ourselves and working thoughtfully with others. Some talking points include: Who am I in rescue, keeping your eye on the prize, I don’t like people or the perception of others, finding joy, bringing your best self and finding the “collateral beauty”after loss. It is the belief of this speaker that exploring ways to stay strong in rescue work is key to continuing this work born out of love.

San Diego HRS Community Assistance Programs

How many calls a week do you get from people who can’t afford to spay or neuter their rabbit?  Or they have a bunny medical emergency but don’t have enough money to pay the veterinarian bill?  Or they are losing their home and need a safe place to house their rabbit until they get back on their feet?  San Diego House Rabbit Society has developed three programs to assist people and their rabbits.   The basic purpose of these programs is to help people so they will keep their rabbit thus preventing abandonment.  The programs are 1) Spay & Neuter Rebate, 2) Community Service Boarding, and 3) Community Service Medical Fund.  This presentation will detail each program, how they are funded, the pitfalls to avoid, necessary paperwork, and what we have found works.

The Golden Years: Caring For the Geriatric Rabbit

This class will be a discussion about the primary health concerns in the aging rabbit.  Topics to be included are dental disease, Encephalitozoonosis, urinary tract issues, cardiovascular disease, neoplasia and arthritis.

Rabbit Agility and Clicker Training

There are several benefits of rabbit agility. Not only is it a way to give your rabbit physical and mental exercise, but it can help strengthen the human-rabbit bond. It can also be used as a tool for demonstrating to the public how intelligent rabbits are. In this class, the basics of clicker-training will be discussed, as well as information on building your own agility course, and starting up an agility club. The presentation will also include a live agility demonstration.

Adopters Welcome

How can we get more rabbits adopted?  Suzanne D’Alonzo, Vice President of Community Programs and Strategic Initiatives at the Humane Society of Charlotte, will present an adopters welcome approach to adoptions, which has been embraced by many shelters and rescues.  This proven approach helps bring more people to adopt, and prevents adopters from getting discouraged during the adoption process. And more rabbits adopted into loving homes means more rabbits can be rescued!  Anne Martin, HRS Executive Director, will present several special adoption promotions that have worked at HRS headquarters to stimulate more rabbit adoptions.

Shelter Management: Running a Shelter, Budgets, and Succession Planning

This class will cover the basics of running an animal shelter specializing in rabbits, including raising funds, set up, volunteers and staff issues, budgeting, and more. For anyone who is interested in setting up their own shelter!