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How do I find a new home for my rabbit?

Think It Over

It is a serious matter when deciding to give up a companion animal. There are often long term ramifications that most do not consider at the time of relinquishment. Assuming that you have some level of attachment to your rabbit, you may carry the sadness and the guilt of giving him/her up for many years. People trying to atone for the surrender of a companion animal earlier in their lives by offering another one a home later in their lives is not a rare event in the rescue community.

Relinquishing your rabbit is also a poor lesson for children about assuming and following through on responsibility. Surely they deserve a better role model. Also, some children get the message that if the family pet can be given up, then they can be abandoned, too. However unlikely this may be, the child can be burdened with this fear.

Please evaluate your situation and think this decision through very carefully.

Can RabbitWise help you keep your rabbit with you in your home? ⇒Contact us to find a solution other than relinquishing your rabbit.

Please note: RabbitWise is not a rescue. We DO NOT take in rabbits.

You Have Choices, Your Rabbit Doesn't


Allergies to rabbits are one of the top reasons people relinquish their companion animals. You owe it to yourself and to your rabbit to make certain that s/he is the allergen and, if so, what steps you can take to cope with it without giving up your rabbit.
At Rabbit References, click on Care, Feeding, Tips, then scroll to "Allergic to Your Rabbit: Living With Rabbit Allergies."

Behavior Problems

Behavior problems are also a frequent reason for relinquishment of rabbits. Many of these can be corrected by learning how to better meet your rabbits needs in acceptable ways and how to effectively train your rabbit.
At Rabbit References, click on Care, Feeding, Tips, then scroll down to "Having Problems?" and read the articles there.

Landlord Problems

Another top reason for relinquishment of a companion animal is because of no pet policies and difficulties with a landlord. You may have options that you are unaware of and need to check about before giving up your rabbit.

Is your rabbit a service animal prescribed to you by a health/mental health professional to support your physical and/or mental well-being? Register your rabbit with ⇒ National Service Animals of America. This is one of the ways you can prove to your landlord, Homeowners' Association, etc. that your rabbit is a "reasonable accommodation" for your disability under the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA). Also check your local/municipal laws at Municode to see if there are laws allowing people of certain ages to have companion animals regardless of rental, condo rules.

Finding a New Home for your Rabbit

Unfortunately, shelters and rescue organizations rarely have openings. There are a very limited number of people willing to foster rabbits. There are always a lot more people wanting to give up their rabbits than people who want to adopt one. For rescue organizations, rescuing rabbits who are running out of time at shelters always takes precedence. While there is little immediate help in finding your rabbit a home, there are some helpful guidelines.

Do not take your rabbit to the shelter because it is very likely that s/he will be killed. Once animals come in to the shelter, they only have a limited time to get adopted before the shelter must make way for later-arriving or more adoptable animals. This means that your rabbit will be killed to make a space for the new rabbit.

KISMET, rescued after being abandoned in the woods when she was six weeks old

Otherwise healthy and adoptable young rabbits are routinely killed simply because shelters are overwhelmed by people dumping rabbits that they could no longer be bothered to care for. This is particularly true several months after Easter and in August when young people are college bound and they and their parents no longer wish to be responsible for their rabbit.

Besides being illegal in most states, abandoning a domestic rabbit outside is a death sentence for the rabbit. Contrary to popular myth, they will NOT find a warren of wild rabbits and join them. They are a different genus than our local wild rabbits. The wild rabbits will kill them. While domestic rabbits have some of the instincts of their wild relatives, they have none of the skills to enable them to survive the many hazards that they would face. They will be killed by predators or starve to death.

The best solution is for you to make some flyers, describing your rabbit and highlighting his/her good qualities. If you can do so, include a photo of him/her on the flyers. Many rabbits do not particularly like to be held, so if s/he does, that's a plus. Mention if s/he is in good health and if s/he enjoys being petted. The fact that s/he is spayed or neutered, socialized, and litter-box trained are pluses and should be noted. You can post the flyers in vet's offices, pet stores, and maybe on the community bulletin board at the local library.

Unless the adopter is a close friend or someone who you know very well, you should charge an adoption fee for him/her, $15-$25 would be okay, to try to ensure that s/he is not being taken to be dinner for a pet snake or stew for the family. For the same reason, you should NOT advertise in the newspaper, especially him/her as being "free to a good home." Many respondents to those ads want rabbits for just that reason. If you haven't already done so, check with your friends and co-workers, and ask them to talk to their friends. You may just find someone who would love to give your rabbit a new home. Prepare a list of interview questions that you want to ask potential adopters.

Going through the process of finding your bunny another home will be time-consuming, and will probably be somewhat frustrating. Many people unfortunately still tend to see rabbits as novelties rather than as companion animals. But rabbits are affectionate, social creatures who are a lot more intelligent than most people realize. Through no fault of his/her own, your rabbit is losing the only home and family that s/he has ever known. Dumping him/her at the shelter would be the easy thing to do. You sign some papers, and it's all taken care of. Some shelters post the photos of their "guests" on their websites, so you could even check to see him/her if you wanted to. Then, one day, the picture won't be there, and you will always wonder if s/he found someone else to love him, or if s/he just ran out of time. Years from now, you will feel much better about this situation and about yourself if you know that you did the right thing by him/her.

Finally, RabbitWise will be happy to assist anyone who does adopt your rabbit. Just tell them to ⇒ contact us and we will be glad to offer them advice about housing, answer questions about diet, and make recommendations about care. If they are in the Metropolitan DC area, RabbitWise will help them with setting up his/her new home and with rabbit care like nail trims. If you have further questions, ⇒ e-mail us with your telephone number and someone will get back to you. Good luck with finding your friend a new home.

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