COOS COUNTY — Rabbits are the third most abandoned pet in the nation.
Many individuals find themselves with a pet rabbit, not sure how to take care of one, and some decide they would be best released outside.
Dylan Boice lifts one of her rabbits out of a cage Thursday at Zachlyn Rabbitry in Coos Bay.
To combat this, February is Adopt a Rabbit Month. According to the House Rabbit Society, a nonprofit rabbit rescue and education organization, “animal shelters and rabbit rescues have rabbits of all ages, shapes, and sizes just waiting to be adopted.”
The House Rabbit Society cited why adoption is better than buying rabbits since it helps “save two lives: the rabbit you bring home and the rabbit who can take his place at the shelter.”
“Abandonment happens when someone can’t take care of a rabbit,” said Dylan Boice, co-founder and owner of Zachlyn Rabbitry in Coos Bay. “Once a rabbit is in captivity for a while, they don’t survive long outside. If you can’t take care of it, take it to a shelter or someone who knows rabbits.”
The Boice home has seen unexpected rabbits appear on the doorstep, lost or abandoned, they never know.
“We take them in and find them homes,” said Michelle Boice, Dylan’s mom.
Many times, rabbits are adopted during the Easter holiday and later abandoned when the family realizes they don’t know how or can’t take care of them. This is why the Boices don’t allow adoptions around Easter to avoid adding to the problem.
Michelle Boice saw Zachlyn Rabbitry begin in 2012, started by her children when they joined 4-H.
“A lot of (4-H) kids were given pets that had a lot of health problems and didn’t live long,” Michelle Boice said. “So we raise rabbits primarily for 4-H youth so they can have healthy animals.”
Dylan Boice grew an interest in rabbits when one was spotted at a park and was told, “If you can catch it, you can have it.” Of course, Boice didn’t catch it but shortly after the family adopted a Holland Lop.
“They are interesting animals,” Boice said. “I love the different colors of the different breeds. When we adopt them out, I want to make sure rabbits have a good home if they go for show or pet. I want someone to love them and treat them right. I want them to have a good life after they leave me.”
The Boice family is leery of where the rabbits are placed and have had cases where they were brought back for re-homing.
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“When people adopt them, they don’t always know they have a life expectancy of seven to 12 years,” said Michelle Boice. “Like any other pet, you are committing to their lifetime.”
When looking to adopt a rabbit, the Boices recommended for people to research the breed they are interested in since some are better with children.
“They all have their personalities and are a hoot to watch when they are doing their thing,” Boice said. “They are awesome pets, but if you don’t have the right pairing they do bite and scratch. They require handling at an early age to be acclimated to being handled. Sometimes people leave them in the cage and then don’t understand why they bite and scratch later.”
Not only that, but before adopting a rabbit research should be done in how to properly take care of them. For the Boices, they walk people through the steps on how to take care of them, including how to feed them and keep their living space clean.
Dylan Boice lifts puts a one her rabbits in a cage Thursday at Zachlyn Rabbitry in Coos Bay, a business she started from home with her brother.
“We used to have house bunnies, but lost our last pet bunny to old age,” Boice said.
If a pet rabbit is allowed to free roam in the house, wires need to be lifted out of reach or placed into protective cases. Bunny-proof the house or room to protect both the house and the rabbits, which also include placing barriers to keep them from going under couches and beds.
Rabbits can be litter box trained. The Boices recommend placing litter boxes or puppy pads in every corner.
“They train themselves to use them,” Dylan Boice said. “Then you can slowly remove them until there is only one.”
Rabbits are also social animals who live in colonies. Being a house rabbit means they have the potential to get along with dogs and cats, though in the Boice house their cats weren’t ever sure what to make of their pet rabbit.
“They are a versatile pet,” said Michelle Boice. “Some are even used for autism therapy, but before you adopt, talk with someone knowledgeable.”
Because rabbits are also considered an exotic pet, finding a rabbit-savvy veterinarian is important for rabbit owners. The Boices recommend Dr. Daniel Meekins at Hanson-Meekins Animal Hospital in Coos Bay and Dr. Ed O’Donnell at the Coquille Animal Hospital.
For more information on how to adopt, visit rabbit.org/category/for-adopters/.
To adopt from the Boices, call (541) 217-0303.