I’m a big supporter of animal shelters when it comes to getting a new rabbit, as there are so many benefits from choosing to get a new rabbit from a shelter than from a breeder or a pet shop. After all, with so many rabbits waiting in animal shelters to be adopted, why would you ever buy a bunny when you can offer one that’s been abandoned a new home?
That being said, you can’t just walk into most animal shelters, pick out a rabbit and take it home either. In fact, any reputable animal shelter will have you go through various steps before they’ll let you take a pet rabbit permanently, as they want to make sure you’re a fit owner and that the rabbit is going to a good home.
While all animal shelters are different and have varying procedure for rabbit adoptions, there are a few things that most of them will probably do and likely require. If you are thinking of adopting a pet rabbit from your local animal shelter, here are a few things you can probably expect to happen when you do.
Help choosing your rabbit – If you have never owned a pet rabbit before, any good animal shelter will help you choose the perfect bunny for you. Do you have children? Then you’ll need a rabbit that’s a little bit more outgoing and adventurous? Do you live alone and are at work a lot? Then you may need to adopt two bunnies, as a rabbit gets depressed when its constantly alone.
A good animal shelter will have someone walking around with you, showing you each rabbit and telling you something about his personality, his likes and dislikes and his temperament.
Complete an adoption request – Rabbits aren’t just handed to anyone who walks in, at least in a reputable animal shelter. Instead, expect to have to complete an adoption request form giving all your personal information and saying why you want to adopt a rabbit.
Some animal shelters will then make you wait for a few days and sometimes up to a week before they will let you come back and pick up your new bunny. That’s so they are sure you are serious about adopting and aren’t likely to change your mind and bring the rabbit back.
Pay a fee – Most reputable animal shelters will ask you to pay a fee to adopt a bunny. This is usually the fee for the spaying or neutering of your rabbit. It’s also often cheaper than a vet would charge for the same operation and the money usually goes into the shelter’s coffers to pay for the care of other abandoned. Expect to pay from $50 to $125 per rabbit, depending on the shelter.
If you are willing to pay to adopt a rabbit, it’s also a good indicator to the shelter that you’re serious.
Education – Some of the best animal shelters may even ask you to sit in on a bunny basics class before they’ll let you leave with a new pet bunny. Classes will last about an hour, but it’s a great way to learn how to take care of a rabbit correctly and, of course, it’s free.
Remember too, if you haven’t owned a pet rabbit before, there aren’t any stupid questions. Make sure you ask about anything you’re not sure about while in the class, before you get Binky the Bunny home and realize you don’t have a clue what to do.
Sign a contract – When I went with a friend to adopt a rabbit, she had to sign a contract with the animal shelter agreeing to take care of the rabbit, to feed it and water it correctly, to play with it and to take it to a vet if it showed signs of any health problems.
While this might seem a little ‘childish’ to some, it’s actually an amazing way of getting the new owner to realize what their responsibilities are and to understand how much work owning a rabbit can be.
Fostering a rabbit first? – Adopting a rabbit is an awesome thing to do as you’re giving a defenseless animal a home that otherwise may never have had one. Just realize owning a rabbit is a lot of work and a lot of expense, so don’t go into it lightly.
If you’re not sure if you really do want to adopt, why not foster a rabbit first? Some animal shelters will let volunteers foster rabbits for a few weeks or months until a permanent owner is found for them. They’ll train you how to take care of him, and it can be a great way to find out if you really were meant to be a rabbit owner. Who knows? You may just find out you’re a natural rabbit parent.