SaveABunny is an award-winning rabbit rescue organization based in Mill Valley, California.
We work with shelters all across Northern California to make sure homeless rabbits get the second chance they deserve. We never euthanize. Even special needs rabbits that may never get adopted are given love and care for as long as we have them.
We're a non-profit organization, which means 100% of our help comes from dedicated volunteers and generous donations.
To learn more, visit www.saveabunny.org.
With the holidays coming up, people are getting their travel plans together, and realizing – “Hey! What am I supposed to do with this rabbit while I’m gone??” Unfortunately this train of thought often leads people to simply return the rabbits to wherever they got them from. Like SaveABunny, for instance. This sucks for us because we don’t have a lot of space, and it sucks for the rabbit because he’s losing his home, his family, and everything he’s gotten used to and started caring about since he was adopted. And it especially sucks for the rabbits that we now can’t take in because we don’t have the space anymore.
So, in an effort to get you or someone you know thinking twice before returning a rabbit (or any pet, really,) here’s some alternatives:
1. Boarding. We offer boarding at SaveABunny. We have a lot of excellent resources on hand to spoil your bunny with while you’re away and all the funds go straight back into saving other bunnies. Learn more about our boarding services here. There are other pet boarding options out there, too, all you have to do is look.
2. Pet-sitting. My boyfriend and I have 2 cats and 2 rabbits, and we’re leaving them in the competent hands of Tales of the Kitty for ten days in January while we’re out of the country. The Bay Area is teeming with pet sitters, and many SaveABunny volunteers either offer a rabbit-sitting service themselves, or know someone who does. Send us an email if you’re curious. If you happen to offer pet-sitting, feel free to leave a post in the comments section so other readers can contact you.
3. Asking a friend. I know how hard this is for some people. No one wants to impose on their friends. But when the choice is asking a friend or giving up the rabbit, just take a second to remember that the space that rabbit takes up in the shelter could easily cost another rabbit her life if we don’t have room for her. Suck it up and ask around – you will probably be surprised about how eager a good friend will be to check in on your adorable bunny rabbit for a few days. Just make sure they know the basics and have the vet’s phone number on hand just in case.
4. Taking him with you. I’ll be honest, most rabbits hate traveling, and if you’re not careful, it can be dangerous for them. But that’s not an excuse to just give him back instead. How bad would it be if you brought an adorable fuzzy bunny home for the holidays? Who could possibly complain about that?
5. Not getting a pet in the first place. When you adopt an animal, you assume responsibility for it’s care. Until it dies. Please think carefully about this before adopting any pet from anyone, ever. If you have doubts about your ability to give a rabbit long-term care, you can donate, foster, volunteer, or sponsor a rabbit instead.
Thanks for listening, and if you do have it in you to foster or adopt this holiday season, Alfalfa, Buckwheat and Spanky are just three of our adorable new rabbits that desperately need a home:
SaveABunny Volunteer Mai sent in this account of time spent with some of our special bunnies.
If you’re reading this blog, it’s because you’re a fellow bunny lover. You know the delights of binkies and happy honking and whisker tickles on your face. My husband Mark and I love them so much that we adopted five bunnies from SaveABunny. And if we had the room, we’d adopt five more. It’s a problem that many of us face: we want more bunnies but can’t accommodate them all at all times. I, for one, can never get my fill of bunniness. So, in order to indulge that lagomorphic urge, I groom bunnies with my husband at SaveABunny. Working there gives even the most voracious bunny lover more bunniness than she can ever contain.
Grooming is one of the many ways that people can volunteer at the sanctuary. It’s our favorite way because we get to pick up the bunnies and hug them while we clip their nails and check their ears and brush them over and over. Once they get used to the unfamiliarity of being on a table out of their pens, they usually love the attention. We could brush each one of them all day. But there’s never time for that – there are too many bunnies who need massaging and petting and are just waiting for their turn! Or maybe that’s just me projecting: I want to give every bunny his or her turn with the comb.
The variety of bunnies is one of the joys of grooming at SaveABunny. As we all know, each bunny has his or her own personality, so interacting with them one at a time allows us to meet them, get to know their likes and dislikes, feel the different energies that they emanate and, for the brief time that we’re with them, touch souls.
The last time I was there, I decided that I wanted to share the joy that is inherent in interacting with each bunny in the hopes that people might read this blog, read about each bunny, and think, “I think I’d really get along with that bunny. Maybe I should go meet him.” And this is the stuff of which long, happy companionship is made.
Our first bunny was Poodalia. She is a beautiful white angora bunny who suffered from neglect, Her fur was patchy, and we could see the delicate pink skin underneath. She was a wiggly one; we wrestled with her for a bit, but once we got her on my lap and started massaging her jaws, she settled right down. She had a big explosion of fur as a tail; it was giant in relation to the rest of her body…and it was just begging to be tickled. Because she was neglected, she is wary of humans and can be shy.She has to be approached gently, so for this reason, she would be a better companion for experienced bunny parents. It doesn’t take too long to earn her trust, though; even during the short time we were handling her, she got comfortable enough to grind her teeth and lick my hand. That’s all the thanks I need.
Sherwood was next. I had been looking forward to grooming him because he is a GIANT French lop. I wanted more than anything to pick him up and for once in my life have enough bunny to hold all at once. And I did! He was one huge, squirmy mass of bunny, and holding him was like holding a small dog. He struggled at first; after all, I was a complete stranger. However, it was easy to get him tranced out, and once we did, he was like fuzzy putty in our hands. Sherwood is one of the furrier bunnies, so we made sure to check his backside carefully. These long-haired bunnies can get their pellets or urine matted into their fur, so it’s important to check often to help them keep the area clean and healthy. Sherwood needed a little trimming and cleaning on his backside, and we thought he would resent the intrusion. I mean, every bunny has his right to privacy! But he didn’t struggle at all; in fact, I think he might have even enjoyed it. When we woke him out of his trance, he positioned himself like a ballerina and prepared to do a graceful grand jete right out of my arms, but I managed to hang onto him and get some extra hugs as a bonus. The interaction with him was boisterous, but he recovered from it quickly because, when we put him back in his pen, he settled right down and seemed to doze.
Then came Scooter, one of Marcy’s Bunny Ambassadors and a little russet-colored tornado. He has one leg that was damaged in such a way that it sticks out now like a little bunny kickstand, but that does not slow him down one whit. He seemed to think that it was fun to make the big, clumsy human chase him around his pen, spill his water, land face first in his litterbox, and finally turn into a big pretzel. Scooter has street cred. He’s one of those adaptable little guys who can fit in anywhere and be adored by everyone. One might be inclined to pity him because of his leg, but you only have to see him interact with other bunnies to know that he’s far from the bottom of the hierarchy. He lives in a pen with three other bunnies, and he buzzed around each of them like a bee, getting a kiss here and a lick there. Scooter loved all of his bunny roommates, and they loved him back.
Grace is a special bunny both to me specifically and to everyone who interacts with her. She was the one who gave me my very first bunny kiss – and you never forget your first kiss. She is aptly named because she radiates grace and tranquillity, even though she is blind. Grace is like a little space heater of compassion. Marcy puts sick or new bunnies with Grace because she knows that Grace will be kind to them and show them the ropes. She can get nervous, especially when her toys and dishes are moved around because she does have to find her way around without seeing. With her, you can’t dither – you have to pick her up quickly and decisively and hug her closely – I use any excuse to hug bunnies! – so that she feels safe. Nervous or indecisive handling scares her. She, like the other bunnies, was nervous when I picked her up, but she, also like the other bunnies, calmed right down once she realized that she was getting a special spa treatment.
Phoenix didn’t really need to be groomed, but, since he’s such a special and brave bunny, we decided to check in on him anyway. He was doing just fine – doing tiny stationary binkies and hopping rambunctiously around his pen. I tried to pick him up, but he clearly was not in the mood…I think he wanted his tribute from afar, in the form of pets and back scratches. We gave him this tribute and paid homage to him to let him know that we understand that he’s the king.
My husband and I go to the shelter to groom bunnies as often as we can, and each trip is a delight. We intend to do much more grooming, so stay tuned for more days in the lives of bunny huggers!
So there I was. I had severely dampened my self-confidence by creating the debacle with the Shop-Vac, and I was trying to massage Little Joe, who was a faster bunny than anyone might think, given that he only had three legs. I had to be down at his level to support his hindquarters but he hopped in circles around me so fast that I twisted the soft, imitation-sheepskin rug into a vortex of confusion, and all the other bunnies were hopping and hiding or scrambling. Grace, another of Little Joe’s pen-mates, huddled in the corner, and that’s when I knew I had to stop. Grace is one of the rare gems of bunnyhood, the Koh-I-Noor of the many bunny jewels at SaveABunny. She’s a New Zealand White, blind, but she radiates a gentle healing energy that is so perceptible that Marcy puts the bunnies who are new or sick into a pen with her. One of the first bunnies I ever held, she made me her grateful servent forever by bestowing on me my first bunny kiss – she licked my neck as I held her. I knew without asking that Marcy had put Grace in the x-pen with Little Joe and Scooter to help soothe them through the difficulties and discomforts of their leg problems.
When Grace got scared, I stopped and petted everyone. I unwound myself from the pretzel into which I’d made myself and just let Grace’s calm transcend the chaos in a soft, misty tide that slowly broke over our tableau.
Since I had been “helping” Little Joe run laps around the communal area, I decided that I would join Grace’s calm aura with my own and do a little massaging. So I petted Little Joe until he calmed down, sat very still, and rubbed his flank and the sides of his body, loosening the muscles. I wasn’t sure that I was doing any good, but Marcy came in as we were leaving, and she said that he looked more comfortable. I couldn’t tell a difference, but since Marcy is the original Bunny Whisperer, I trusted her judgment.
The Bunny Trifecta
By this time, a little bunny trifecta had formed: Grace, Scooter and Little Joe huddled all together, allowing me to pet all of them at the same time. And this is where the healing started – for all of us. Little Joe had his tight muscles massaged and got support so that he could hop somewhat normally for a little while. I massaged Scooter’s kickstand leg and the muscles around it so that he could rest a little from the tension that must accumulate when he moves. And Grace herself, the Bringer of Tranquility, relaxed into the symbiotic relationship, the give and take of healing energy accepted and transformed into gratitude for her. This silent interaction did not stop at the lagomorphic boundary; the bunnies shared themselves generously with the still-ashamed (because of the Shop-Vac Disaster) human.
When everyone had settled down and relaxed for a while, I stepped quietly out of their area to let them rest in that primal circle of touch, vision, and scent. Although I wanted to put my head right next to them and fall asleep inhaling their warm-blanket bunny fragrance, there were other bunnies to groom, other little furry beings to massage, comb, hug, and kiss. Mark and I spent the rest of our allocated three hours grooming the rest of the bunnies in that one room, taking our minds out of ourselves for one blessed afternoon and surrendering our world-worn spirits to the vagaries of bunniness: the calm bunnies, the nervous bunnies, the wiggly bunnies, the bitey bunnies, and the curious bunnies. We left reluctantly, as we always do, with our spirits soothed and our clothes covered with bunny hair. It had been a good day altogether, and I had learned one important lesson: to let sleeping Shop-Vacs lie.
SaveABunny volunteer Maitreya shared this story – enjoy!
I thought I was doing them a favor. Rob and my husband Mark were looking for a Shop-Vac with which we could vacuum up the pellets in the big pen where Little Joe, the svelte and handsome black bunny who, unfortunately, had to have one hind leg removed, lived with his compatriots. I wanted to get started on my work of massaging Little Joe’s sides and muscles, which were developing unevenly because of the lack of his leg. So I hunted around Marcy’s art room and found a Shop-Vac in the little laundry room right next door. I lugged it out to the bunny area and vacuumed up the pellets and hay in Little Joe’s x-pen, and then I put the Shop-Vac to the side, stepped into the pen, and started petting bunnies. It was heaven – everywhere I put my hand, there was a bunny under it. Nothing is more enchanting than being surrounded by bunnies: their little paws on my legs; their twitchy, whiskery noses bumping into my hands and sides and thighs asking politely, as bunnies do, for pets and attention; their soothing little honking sounds that tell me they’re happy; even their little nips when they want me to move or when they have, as Little Joe did, an amusing obsession for my shoelaces.
Little Joe and his pen-mate, Scooter.
Nothing, I thought, could spoil this delight. How wrong I was. Rob and Mark came back into the room, bringing the giant Shop-Vac from downstairs when Rob noticed the little one I’d brought in from the laundry room. He asked, “What’s this? Where did –?” and I told him that I’d gone to the laundry room to get it. Alarm immediately flashed across his handsome, careworn face.
“No, no, that’s wrong; that can’t – no,” he said, and he leaped across the room to the little Shop-Vac, which was innocently squatting in the corner, blissfully ignorant of its complicity in my guilt.
“What’s wrong? What…?” I stammered. Today seemed like a day for incomplete sentences.
“That’s the vacuum for the toxic materials from Marcy’s kiln,” he said intensely. He was trying to grab the venomous vacuum cleaner and get it out of the bunnies’ room as quickly as possible, but he was struggling; it was still plugged in. I, still penned in Little Joe’s area, sat back on my knees, too aghast to unplug it for him or help him. In that small area, if I had stepped out of the pen, I would be standing on Rob’s back, and at that moment, more dead weight was the last thing he needed.
He got the Shop-Vac unplugged and raced out of the room with it. I had no idea what he was doing; presumably, he was emptying out the contaminated materials. I, however, was crying with humiliation and shame. When Rob came back in, calm as ever, I couldn’t even look at him. What an idiot I was, I thought. They’ll never let me come and groom bunnies again.
But Rob was unflappable. He bent over and showed me the proper way to massage Little Joe, who had taken cover – as any smart bunny would – during the chaos. He made his way back over to me and gave me a strength-restoring bitie, as I call bunny bites, to make me focus my attention on Rob’s ministrations. Rob told me how to massage Little Joe, and, once I had the hang of it, told me that Scooter, one of Little Joe’s pen-mates, could use some Maitreya-therapy as well. And then he left me to my mêlée of emotions: chagrin, embarrassment, cramped self-esteem, and calming bunny support.
And support was the right word. Poor Little Joe had only a stump where his left hind paw had been, so it was part of my job as deputized physical therapist to support his left side, allowing him to stand upright and hop that way. I had some trouble with that; Little Joe is a fast and active bunny, and I could barely keep up with him as he hopped/scrambled his way around the pen, through the water dish, into a cardboard tube, and then finally to the safety of the litterbox. I let him be and turned my back so that he could have some privacy, and petted the other bunnies until he came back to me of his own accord. It was not long before he did, and he announced his presence by giving me a double dose of bities. He had made it clear: he was the alpha bunny, and I was there to attend to his needs, feed him bits of carrots, and amuse him with my shrieks of pain when he bestowed on me his mighty bities.
Part 2 of “Grooming Little Joe” coming soon… stay tuned!
SaveABunny has been working with Oakland Animal Services on making their Rabbit Room a cozy place for bunnies and people alike.
The newest addition is a mural by a SaveABunny volunteer, the lovely and taelnted Gael:
Like all masterpieces, it started out as a simple sketch.
But after day one, it was already taking shape.
Don’t you just wanna hop down that path and find some clover?
By the third day, you could smell the fresh spring breeze wafting in.
One of our SaveABunny Volunteers, Arlene, submitted a few words about her experience volunteering at SaveABunny:
A Day of Nurturing the Soul and Spirit
Last week, I went to volunteer and provided Reiki to some special bunnies that needed some extra TLC and energy work. I was able to work on Dustin who is a strong, feisty, little bunny with lots of personality. He wanted to climb up my chest and use me as a jungle gym, but eventually he was able to calm down, relax and enjoy the healing energy in my arms. Furthermore, Gwen stretched out on my lap and was just soaking up the extra attention, as I worked on her. She’s such a sweet and gentle girl. In addition, I was fortunate to have spent time with Rowan. He would hang out on my lap, but he preferred to sit next to me, while I worked on him. I was very saddened to hear that he had recently passed on. For those of you who are unfamiliar with Reiki, it is an alternative healing technique that helps with stress and relaxation, as well as works on one’s physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual well-being. I’m glad that Rowan was able to receive energy work from Rob, Marcy, and I, before he passed on.
As a result of volunteering, I am not only helping the bunnies, but they also give me so much back in return. In 1995, my pet bunny, “Bugsy” passed away. Ever since then, I have not had another pet. I’ve always felt like a part of me was missing. Currently, I am unable to have a pet right now, so volunteering at SaveABunny is a perfect way for me to help out the bunnies and nurture my soul and spirit. When I go to volunteer, I am able to re-connect with animals and to nature. Even going outside to water the plants when I’m emptying out the bunnies’ water bottles, allows me to enjoy the beauty, scents, and sounds of the garden. SaveABunny is a very special, tranquil place of healing and hope, that not only helps bunnies but also volunteers like me.
In essence, I appreciate that SaveABunny allows me to volunteer when I can based on my schedule. Since I don’t live very close to Mill Valley, I appreciate that I can still help out and be a part of these special bunnies’ lives. Thanks SaveABunny!!!