Hoppin’ down the (rescued) bunny trail

Ebony entered the Rockwall shelter immediately following the December tornado. He ended up at the North Texas Rabbit Sanctuary since he suffered from infected lesions caused by fly larvae. He was recently adopted.

(ROCKWALL, TX – March 22, 2016) Ah, the joys of spring in North Texas. The temperature is generally warm and pleasant. The landscape is in full bloom (to the consternation of allergy sufferers). And the Easter Bunny is preparing to deliver brightly colored eggs to happy children everywhere.

That also means local animal shelters are preparing for the seasonal delivery of unwanted baby bunnies. Even though bunnies are gentle and intelligent companions, most people are unaware that the little cuties have unique requirements. And some of those requirements can be a drain on your bank account.

Thankfully, caring community activists like Barbara Yule are ready to lend a helping hand. Barbara began rescuing bunnies 25 years ago. When she found herself deeply involved in rescuing, she took a business-like approach and founded the North Texas Rabbit Sanctuary in 1993. Her nonprofit cares for the sick and injured bunnies that local shelters aren’t equipped to handle.

Barbara doesn’t hide her love and respect for bunnies. “They’re very intelligent and can be trained,” she explains while feeding a pair of her rescued bunnies. “But they can have a mind of their own. It’s just like having kids.”

One reason that young bunnies end up at area shelters, according to Barbara, is their quiet and introverted appearance masks an insatiable desire for activity. “They don’t want to sit in a cage all day,” she said. “They want to play.”

It’s obvious that Gretel is a Lion Head.

A short visit to Barbara’s sanctuary yields a head-spinning array of bunny-related details. She cares for a large cross section of the four dozen different breeds of domestic bunnies. There’s Harlow and Ashford, who are Flemish Giants. Adorable Ava is a Holland Lop. And gorgeous Gretel is a Lion Head. Yes, she looks like she has the mane of a lion.

And Ebony was clearly happy to be going to his new home. He ended up at the Rockwall shelter following the devastating December tornado. Barbara cared for him since he suffered from several infected lesions due to fly larvae. It looks like that tornado changed the trajectory of Ebony’s life for the better.

Barbara Yule checks on the rescued rabbits in their play pens.

After rescuing and caring for bunnies for the past 25 years, Barbara is an excellent source of advice for anyone who’d like to adopt a rabbit of their own. What are the positive things about adding a bunny to your family? All the clichés are true: They’re impossibly cute, extremely intelligent and oh-so-easy to love. They’re usually compatible with someone who’s allergic to dogs and cats (except the hay they eat can stir up the allergens). And they’re really, really quiet.

Harlow and Ashford, both Flemish Giants, happily chew their greens.

What’s the downside to adopting a bunny? “They are not low cost and they are not no maintenance,” Barbara stated emphatically. Bunnies usually have to go to an exotic pet veterinarian, since most vets aren’t trained to work with rabbits. That creates an immediate rise in the cost of care. “Bunnies also hide illnesses,” Barbara adds. You probably won’t notice your bunny is sick until the problem gets really complicated. Once again, that increases the vet bills.

Once you fall in love with a bunny, Barbara is available to help. Her sanctuary offers advice, recommends vet care and sells hay and rabbit supplies. Barbara even boards bunnies while their families are away.

It’s been 25 years of year-round dedication for Barbara. After the Easter Bunny hides all those eggs, it’s good to know that people like Barbara and organizations like the North Texas Rabbit Sanctuary are spreading good will among people and bunnies throughout the rest of the year.

Find out more about the North Texas Rabbit Sanctuary at www.ntrs.org. 

The House Rabbit Society estimates there could be as many as seven million pet bunnies in the United States. According to the American Pet Products Association, only 25% of those bunnies were adopted. However, the number of bunnies purchased from pet stores declined by 42% between 2011-2014 as the horrors of rabbit mills – similar to puppy mills – became known.

Story and photos by Blue Ribbon News guest columnist Michael Kitkoski, co-founder of Rockwall Pets and No Kill Solutions.

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