Sunday, April 24, 2011

Etsy Rabbits Team Profiles - Magic Happens Rescue


When I was quite young -- 4 or 5 I think -- my older sister and I each got a pet rabbit. They lived in a hutch in our large fenced garden. We would let them out to play in the garden. Unfortunately we were young and irresponsible and we hadn't had them longer than probably a year before one of us left both the cage door open and the garden gate open and our rabbits escaped.


I didn't truly get to know rabbits until I adopted Q-Tip the summer between my junior and senior year in high school. Both the family cat and parakeet had died and all I was left with was fish, which are not very cuddly. Then my sister called from college to say that her manager at her part time job had a rabbit that she was looking to rehome. I jumped on the opportunity, but after what happened to my childhood rabbit and knowing that a friend had lost an outdoor rabbit due to heart attack, I knew I wanted to keep him inside. I started doing research online and discovered the wonderful world of the house rabbit. Q-Tip was quite a learning experience as he had some behavioral issues. He's changed so much in the 10 years that I've had him, it's amazing he's the same rabbit my sister nick-named "the flesh eater".

My junior year at LSU in Baton Rouge, LA, I found out by a flyer at Petco that there was a rabbit rescue in town. I'm a shy person so I was hesitant to call to volunteer. Then Hurricane Katrina happened. Classes were closed for two weeks at LSU because they were using so many of the buildings as shelters and to coordinate rescue personnel. One of the buildings was being used as an animal shelter. The first animals brought in were ones evacuated from shelters & humane societies that had been damaged by the storm. They were asking for volunteers to help take care of the animals so I went to see what I could do. The echoing sounds of all the dogs barking was deafening. I knew if they had any rabbits that they would be terrified and I needed to get them out. I asked around and found out there were some. I had to help these rabbits. This was what enabled me to get over my shyness and call the rabbit rescue.

Magic Happens Rabbit Rescue was only a year old back then. Before I got there, there was only the founder and one other volunteer. The budget was very slim, and rabbits were not spayed/neutered before adoption. There were usually less than a dozen rabbits available at a time, which were kept outside in a walk-in shelter made of wood and chicken-wire. Barely anybody knew that the rescue existed.

Fast forward to 2011 and things have changed quite a bit. We have dozens of volunteers and supporters. Our budget allows us to have a buffer for hard times and buy "extras" that make things easier, rather than just the bare essentials. We usually house about 30-40 rabbits and 1-5 guinea pigs with the amount of foster homes we have now. We still have a post-Easter waiting list of rabbits each summer from weeks after Easter until the school year begins. While a third of the rabbits are kept in foster homes throughout Louisiana, the majority stay in one volunteer's large garage in cages and pens. As we continue to grow, the bunnies' accommodations have also. We have purchased a 12 by 24 ft building that we are in the process of finishing that will become "The Bunny Barn." It will have all the amenities, from air conditioning to a watering system that has already been donated. All rabbits are now spayed and neutered before being adopted. We do many educational visits to day camps, schools, and scout groups. We attend several pet events each year. We have been in the newspaper and on the evening news a few times. Since 2004 MHRR has adopted out 475 animals (rabbits, guinea pigs, rats, mice, hamsters, ferrets). At the rate we are going it won't be long before we hit the 500 mark!

As the community becomes more familiar with our presence, we do get more donations and volunteers, but we also get more surrenders. Now comes upon us the hardest time of the year and we're off to a bad start. Usually we've cut down our numbers before Easter and all that are left are the non-kid friendly bunnies, but this year we had several sets of entire litters of bunnies (mostly coming from other shelters) turned in. Most were too young to adopt out and so that took up a lot space, not to mention a lot of money for spay and neuter surgeries.

The public perception is something we are working to change. We have so many people already trying to turn in rabbits right now when we are already full saying that it shouldn't be a problem for us because it's Easter time and everyone is looking for a rabbit. One person actually said that giving us a rabbit would be making money for us. Our adoption fee is $50. It cost us $35 to get a female spayed, thanks to our vet's generous discount. One of our adoptables, Snowflake came to us in 2009 as post-Easter surrender. I'm certain we've spent way over $15 on her food in the almost 2 years we've had her. The problem is most people are looking for a rabbit that doesn't exist. Their idea of a rabbit is something the size of a small Netherland Dwarf (like 2-3 lbs), loves to cuddle, and that their kid can carry around everywhere. We try to educate people and steer them to a larger rabbit that their small child can't pick up and is generally more docile than a dwarf breed. But of course they don't believe us, go buy what they want, it doesn't work out, and they give it to us after Easter.

I started making jewelry in college. I've been interested in crafts and photography for as long as I can remember though. After I started volunteering for MHRR, I tried selling my jewelry and photos at various local venues to raise money for the rescue. In 2008 I decided to make my creations available to a wider audience by joining Etsy. That was when Beads for Bunnies was born. I still bring items to our local events and often do commissions for other volunteers. Recently I started a collective Etsy shop, The Magic Happens Rabbit Rescue Store, so that other volunteers can gather together to raise money for MHRR. I've also expanded my non-jewelry creations and moved them to this shop. We currently have paintings, cards, and treats and toys for rabbits available. Please visit Beads for Bunnies and The Magic Happens Rabbit Rescue Store to help support the homeless bunnies of Louisiana in their time of need. Visit our website to learn more about MHRR.

Follow Magic Happens Rescue:

Website - http://www.magichappensrescue.com/
Etsy Shop - http://magichappensrescue.etsy.com/
Facebook - http://www.facebook.com/pages/Magic-Happens-Rabbit-Rescue/81621268743?ref=nf
Twitter - http://twitter.com/#!/mhrr

Written by Lisa Appelbaum of Beads for Bunnies:

Etsy Shop - http://beadsforbunnies.etsy.com/
Facebook - http://www.facebook.com/beadsforbunnies

20% OFF WITH COUPON CODE: RETIREDEASTERBUNNY11
Good in both Etsy shops, Magic Rescue Happens & Beads For Bunnies, now through Tuesday April 26th midnight (CDT).

1 comment:

"Sweetie" the English Spot Bunnie said...

wonderful story - I have added myself as a follower!! My bunny "Sweetie" keeps a blog too if you would like to visit - she and her brother, mother and father all live in a fairycastle that my husband built!!

http://fairycastlefarm.blogspot.com/

Take care and Happy Hoppy Easter from Yollie (the human) xx