With Easter right around the corner, the Catskill Animal Sanctuary anticipates a surge in rescue requests for abandoned bunnies, chicks, ducklings, and other animals. These animals are purchased as “gifts” but often end up abandoned when the novelty of caring for them wears off. Over the years, CAS has accepted Easter animals found in dumpsters, on top of a police car, and in a bag in the sanctuary’s driveway.
“At CAS we get regular inquiries about ‘rehoming’ rabbits,” says Veronica Finnegan, CAS’s communications manager. “We currently care for two who were put into a paper bag and dumped on our property in cold weather.”
A corollary of this seasonal “gift-giving” is the use of live animals in Easter-related marketing. The storefront of Play Toys & Gifts on Main Street in Beacon, for example, has suddenly become home to two caged rabbits. It’s evident that the store is using these animals as holiday decoration—a ploy to get customers inside—but rabbits are incredibly sensitive to their environments. As CAS notes, rabbits are extremely social animals that need enrichment, medical care, and lots of attention. With little regard for their comfort, safety, or future, stores like Play cage rabbits in front of pedestrians and moving vehicles all day. On one particular day, the poor rabbits didn’t even have any lining for their cage.
The abandonment of rabbits is an unfortunately widespread trend. According to People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, rabbits are the third-most abandoned animal found in shelters. As both PETA and CAS note, many people also release rabbits into the wild, mistakenly believing that these domesticated animals can survive on their own. In the wild, rabbits are threatened by predators, motorists, the elements, and even pesticides.
No animal should be used for promotional material or as filler for an Easter basket. This holiday, choose compassion and reject businesses that try to profit off the exploitation of animals, whether through their sale or their display. If you’d like to include an animal in your celebration, consider sponsoring a feathered or furry friend at a sanctuary such as CAS, which can give you regular updates on their wellbeing. The bunnies and chicks will thank you!
The River is a nonpartisan news organization, and the opinions of columnists and editorial writers do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the newsroom.