The Great Bunny Rescue | SteamboatToday.com

The Great Bunny Rescue

More than 1,000 rabbits saved from Nevada, need homes

Allison Plean

— It was the biggest rabbit rescue operation in recent history.

Last month, more than 1,000 rabbits were taken from an elderly woman’s backyard in Reno, Nev. The woman’s intent was to rescue a few dozen homeless rabbits, but the situation became a serious problem, with uncontrolled breeding, fighting among the male rabbits and health problems caused by overcrowding.

Best Friends Animal Society, which operates the country’s largest sanctuary for homeless animals, has rented a 65-acre ranch outside of Reno to serve as a rescue center. And veterinarians are working overtime to treat health problems and to spay and neuter the rabbits.

“So far, we’ve had offers to adopt almost half of the rabbits,” said Michael Mountain, president of Best Friends. “But even though we’ve separated the males from the females, and veterinarians are working full-tilt, there are still about 40 babies being born every day.”

Rabbits are the third most-euthanized pets at shelters and humane societies because many families buy rabbits around Easter time and lose interest in them weeks later.

Steamboat Springs Animal Shelter has not been experiencing that problem.

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“Easter, at this point, has not affected us,” said shelter manager Renee Sorholus. “Sometimes during the Routt County Fair when they do the rabbit catch — where the kids catch and keep the rabbits — we’ll get a couple of them months later because the parents don’t want them.”

The shelter has never euthanized a rabbit.

“We have our own person who comes forward to help us out. If they are young enough, we call Elk River Farm and Feed and, if they have room, they will take the rabbits,” Sorholus said. “We try very hard to not keep them here at the shelter.”

Ann Brenner takes in local rabbit rescues until a home can be found for them. She sometimes gives them to people who will raise them and show them for 4-H, Sorholus said.

The Steamboat Springs Ani–mal Shelter has a good relationship with Best Friends Animal Society.

“We contact them if we have a special animal to be rescued,” Sorholus said. “But we’ve always had really good luck with a really good community. That’s the nice thing about a small town. We’ve always had someone come forward to rescue them (rabbits).”

Best Friends Animal Society still has more than 500 rabbits that need good homes. Baby rabbits can be adopted as soon as they are old enough to be spayed or neutered. Some of the rabbits are feral and need a spacious, protected backyard to live in. For more information on adopting a rabbit, visit http://www.bestfriends.org or call (435) 644-2001.