The Humane Society of the United States is asking people to refrain from acquiring live chicks and rabbits as Easter gifts this holiday season. Young, adorable animals mature quickly into adults and need daily care for the rest of their lives. Instead of live animals as gifts, consider giving children a plush toy or a chocolate rabbit.
“People often don’t realize the level of commitment that these animals require,” said Adam Goldfarb, director of the Pets at Risk program for The HSUS. “The animals that people associate with Easter, like chicks and baby rabbits, have very specific social and nutritional needs. They can’t be caged continuously or relegated to the basement or garage.”
In some areas, selling chicks and keeping chickens as pets is actually illegal. Every year, animal shelters receive a surge of unwanted Easter pets who are given up after the owners have lost interest or are unable to care for them. Unfortunately, many are euthanized due to lack of available homes.
Some animals given as gifts are released into the wild when people tire of them. However, these animals are domestic species. They’re unable to fend for themselves and usually die of starvation or exposure to the elements, or are preyed upon by other animals.
Bringing any type of pet into your home should be done only after carefully assessing your family’s ability to meet the animal’s needs and after seeking information from experts. Talk to a veterinarian, your local animal shelter, or other pet owners about the nuts and bolts of caring for these animals. Adding chickens or any animals to your family should only be done if you have carefully considered your family's lifestyle and your commitment to an animal who can live for many years. It's not easy breaking the news to a child that their new pet is being given away because the adults in the home made a bad decision.
Visit humanesociety.org/rabbitcare to learn more about taking care of rabbits. If you do decide that a rabbit would be a good pet for your family, consider adopting from your local animal shelter or rabbit rescue group.