Archive for July, 2012

To Smokey, With Love: A Rescue Story

Monday, July 16th, 2012
I’d like you all to meet “Evans Rabbit.” At the Veterinary Teaching Hospital where I work, all stray or wild animals are named by the last name of the person who found them, then their species. The animal will quickly be assigned a nickname by the care staff, but in this special lady’s case, she didn’t have enough time. For the sake of this post, I’ll call her Smokey, inspired by her lovely coloring and fluffy Angora coat.
I thought I would write a SaveABunny blog post to not only commemorate Smokey’s life, but also to draw attention to the abhorrent animal cruelty that led to her being placed into our care.
Smokey was brought in to the WSU Veterinary Teaching Hospital (WSU VTH) after hours by a Good Samaritan. A young girl had found her tied to a tree at an elementary school, and took her to a local pet store. The Good Samaritan, who also works at the pet store, brought Smokey to us after they realized that she was severely injured and heat-stressed. I was working at the receptionist’s desk that evening, and I was the one who took Smokey in. I opened the box the Good Samaritan handed me – inside was a black and grey Angora cross, her lovely coat matted and dirty, her eyes crusted, and breathing hard.
Smokey was taken back to the Exotics ward for medical treatment and monitoring. The next day we took radiographs of Smokey’s body to determine how badly she was injured. Smokey’s right leg was badly broken at the hock, and needed to be amputated. The toenails on two of her paws were worn down to the quick and bleeding. There was bruising all over back, and feces caked to her bottom and rear legs. Her her was so badly matted that we had to shave her down to the skin.
The amputation surgery couldn’t be completed until the following Monday, so the broken leg remained bandaged, and Smokey was on constant pain medication. She began eating hay and fresh vegetables on her own, along with the pumpkin/Critical Care mixture that she was syringe-fed. She also began defecating and urinating, a fantastic sign for anyone who has cared for an ill bunny. I often volunteer in the Exotics ward, and I took Smokey out of her cage daily to sit next to her on her fleece, cushioned dog bed on the floor. I groomed her, cleaned her eyes, and gave her the pets, massages, and love that she had most likely never received before. I was ecstatic when she would tooth purr, or shove her small black head under my hand to demand more rubs.
Smokey seemed to grow stronger daily; she continued eating, drinking, and going to the bathroom. We were counting down the days until her amputation surgery, which would have taken away her painful, hindering leg and given her more mobility. And I was personally counting down the days to when Smokey would be healthy enough that I could introduce her to my own rabbit, and hopefully bond the two. Since Hazel, my Netherland Dwarf, is such an affectionate bun who is always asking for and giving groomings, I thought that she could give Smokey some extra TLC and help her heal; they seemed to be a great fit.
I left Smokey last night after spending an hour with her on the floor, tucking her back into her hay-padded cage with fresh veggies in front of her and a kiss on the top of the head. I was shocked when, this morning, I received a text message from the veterinary technician in Exotics saying that Smokey had unexpectedly passed away during the night, and was found this morning in her cage by the volunteers. As I write this, I am still stunned, and deeply saddened. It eases my pain knowing that such a sweet little bun was rescued from an inhumane, torturous death, and was receiving the best treatment possible surrounded by those that truly cared for her. Although it hurts me that Smokey won’t be joining my family, it brings me joy knowing that I was there to give her the love and attention she deserved.
Rest peacefully, Smokey. You were loved.
Emily, Veterinary Student and Bunny Blogger

Hot Bunnies! How to keep you Rabbit Cool in the Summer

Thursday, July 12th, 2012

Now that summer has officially begun, I thought I’d write a post about how to keep your precious bunnies cool in this hot weather.
For your bunny to be safest and live longest, domestic rabbits should be kept indoors, period. They are highly susceptible to heat extremes and stress, which can rapidly cause death. Keeping your rabbit in your home is also the best way for them to relax and bond with your family. You’ll also be able to tell quickly if there are any other health issues you might miss if your bun lives outdoors.  So what are some ways to keep your home cool and comfortable for your fur-baby?

  • Make sure your home is an acceptable temperature for your rabbit. If it’s too hot for you, it’s too hot for someone with a fur coat on! Use your air conditioner or fans to keep your home cool.
  • Your rabbit’s pen needs to be out of direct sunlight, so be sure to determine how much sunlight is streaming through the windows in the rabbit’s main area.
  • Place a fan directly near your rabbit’s area or in his or her room. Make sure the cord is in a bunny-proofed position! You can even place damp towels on the side of your rabbit’s pen and let the fan blow through them; this will create cooler air.
  • Frozen water bottles are a cheap and easy addition to your rabbit’s room. Wrap them in towels and place them in prime lounging territory – some buns love lying next to them to keep cool.
  • Bowls or tubs of ice can provide some relief from the heat, as well as another way for your rabbit to stay hydrated.
  • Ceramic tiles or small slabs of marble are great for making a cool spot for you bun to lie on.
  • Always keep your rabbit well-groomed to remove excess hair. If you have a long-haired rabbit, getting them a shorter “summer cut” may be a good option to help keep them cooler.
  • Rabbits should always have plenty of fresh, bun-safe veggies. Rinse them well with cool water before giving them to your bunny; this will help keep them hydrated.
  • If your rabbit will tolerate it, you can mist his or her ears with a spray bottle. A lot of heat dissipates through the ears, and misting them will help cool the blood.

Signs of Heat Stroke or Stress in Rabbits

  • Increased respiration rate (fast breathing)
  • Breathing with an open mouth
  • Increased heart rate
  • Warm or hot ears; redness of the ears
  • Drooling or moisture around the muzzle area
  • Lethargy
  • Refusal to drink water for extended periods of time
  • Convulsions
  • Confused behavior

What should you do if you think your rabbit has heat stroke?

  • Take your rabbit to a qualified veterinarian IMMEDIATELY. Rabbits are highly sensitive to heat stroke, and they require immediate attention.
  • Mist your rabbit’s ears with cool water, and wrap their body in a cool, damp towel. DO NOT SUBMERSE YOUR RABBIT IN COLD WATER UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES.
  • On the way to the veterinarian, make sure your car air conditioner is on and the car is as cool as possible.

Remember, though, that summer time can also be a fun time for your bunny, because trips outdoors are possible! If you would like to give your rabbit time to play outdoors, make sure they are in a secure space (i.e. exercise pen) that is safe from predators, toxic plants, and stressful noises. Make sure the top of the pen is covered to protect him/her from predators, and keep the pen in the shade. Supervise your bun at all times when he or she is outdoors, and always provide fresh water. It’s ok to let your rabbit munch on grass and dandelions when in your yard, but they need to be pesticide and poison-free.
Have a happy, and safe, bunny-filled summer!

- Emily, Veterinary Student and Bunny Blogger

Twilight of the Bunnies

Saturday, July 7th, 2012

The following is a guest post from Christopher St. John, foster dad to Anastasia and Freddie Mercury. We welcome guest posts from SaveABunny supporters and love to hear from you!

In my work as an advertising creative director, I often take part in anxiety festivals that last from morning til night. So it’s always wonderful to come home to my two bunnies, and sit with them for a few minutes in the gathering dusk, with a big plate of Italian parsley, pea pods and dill next to me.

Feeding the Buns

Feeding the Buns

Rabbits are crepuscular, which means they are most active around dawn and dusk. I usually miss the dawn frolics, alas, but the twilight friskiness is something I look forward to all day. As soon as I arrive with the greens, I can see Anastasia perk up. Apparently, she can hear the sound of broccoli slices being carried down the hallway.

I sit down, and she bounds towards me, because I’m the candyman: Purveyor of fresh cilantro and, on special days, the watercress from Whole Foods. She lays into the leafage with a will, and even with my impaired hearing, I can hear her crunching. Freddie comes out a bit later. He doesn’t rush, but lollops over with a kind of careful insouciance. (A curious thing about words is that only when writing about rabbits do you have occasion to use the word “lollops.”)

A chin bump from Anastasia

A chin bump from Anastasia

The silence is marvelous. In my work, I’m beavering about all day, figuring out ways to convince Americans that they don’t have enough, and that they need more. Even while unemployment stays stubbornly high, and American jobs drift away to other lands. This kind of work is done by hyper-verbal people with fervid imaginations, and the high-speed yak can go on for hours without stopping. Of course, I’m the yakker in chief. Often, by the end of the day, I sick of listening to myself most of all.

The buns are silent. Whether feeling fearful or frolicsome, they are almost soundless. A happy rabbit is something you see, but you will listen in vain for a rabbit to cry “Yowza!” at the end of a great piece of endive. And with the studied dignity and stoicism of a prey animal, they would never tell you if they are hurt. A lion with a thorn in its paw may lay by the side of the road making a great play for sympathy while keeping an eye out for Androcles, but no rabbit would ever do such a thing. Crying is an indulgence for predators and traders at JP Morgan Chase. It is hard to be bold if you are a prey animal, but every day, they are brave.

The buns look at video of themselves on my iphone

The buns look at video of themselves on my iphone

Our rabbits look wild. Anastasia is a mottled brown, and Freddie a dappled grey. When you see them, you don’t think “hutch,” or “eight-year-old girl.” You think of them bounding away over the downs with Hazel and Fiver, looking for the perfect spot to found a new warren. * They don’t rush up to you, like a puppy, or expect to served by you, like a lordly feline. They are elusive. They keep their own counsel. When we first brought these creatures home, they ran from us. That they will guilelessly approach me now feels like a gift.

The dusk draws down towards night. My day of unique selling propositions and “More!” fades. The moment lingers and hangs. The shadows lengthen. The corners of the room disappear, and the quiet makes me sleepy.

Freddie and Anastasia tussle over a piece of parsley. “Hush, babies,” I tell them. “There’s enough for everyone.” And for a moment, in this tiny corner of America, there is.

Bunny Hospital - Nightly eardrops for Freddie

Bunny Hospital - Nightly eardrops for Freddie

* As I’m sure many readers already know, these are characters in the classic heroic fantasy novel, Watership Down, which chronicles the lives of a group of rabbits as they search for a new home. This is Penguin Books’ best-selling novel of all time.