After working in Piggy paradise, I switched over to rabbits. Best Friends Animal Society has a couple of different rabbit rescue areas. One is Bunny House with Rabbit HQ right next to it, but there is another area for rescued rabbits that is not on the map. It’s called Rabbit Rescue Village.
Why is it not on the map? Well the rabbits living at rescue village are very special. They came from a hoarding situation, and many of them can never be integrated with the other rabbits due to a contagious illness. This disease cannot be spread to humans, so there is no need to worry about becoming sick if you work with them.
Best Friends was contacted back in 2007 about a hoarding situation where a woman believed to have around 800 rabbits living with her. She could no longer care for the animals and was looking for help. When Best Friends arrived at the house, they found that she actually had 1600 rabbits!
They started to work immediately. Since time was of the essence, they built a temporary clinic on the woman’s property and began capturing the furry little hoppers.
Since rabbits can give birth to a litter of 4 to 10 bunnies every month AND can become pregnant within 24 hours of giving birth, they had to separate males from females. There was one problem though, because of the conditions these rabbits were living in, some of them were in such bad shape that the rescuers had issues sexing them properly. They thought all the males and females were separated, but the rabbits kept growing in population.
Thanks to many tests and the hard work of a few dozen volunteers, they finally got the situation under control.
Now that they had the boys separated from the girls, they could start working on all the illnesses and injuries the rabbits had sustained living in such terrible conditions.
Sadly some didn’t make it, but many of them were sent to various rabbit rescues to look for a future home.
Best Friends built 4 yurts at their Utah sanctuary to house these particular rabbits.
When I first went to start my shift that second morning, I actually went to the Bunny House because I didn’t even know about the Rescue Village. I was excited to get to work with all the cute cuddly little bunnies….especially because that particular day was Easter!
I was soon told that I needed to head on down the road to the unmarked yurts.
Rescue Village is a far cry from Bunny House. Most of the rabbits cannot be handled by volunteers, and many of them will never be available for adoption because of their illnesses. Best Friends wants to give them the best life possible and some of these bunnies are too sick to handle the added stress of changing their home again.
Even though I wasn’t able to cuddle all the bunnies, I was really glad to work at Rescue Village. Not a lot of people sign up to volunteer there. 3 staff workers were tending to the yurts, and only myself and another volunteer were there to volunteer. That’s a lot of work for just a few people!
I was working with a woman named Mary all morning, and she was so appreciative of the extra help.
Most of the rabbits have doors leading to outdoor runs from inside, but Mary works in the yurt that is only indoors. The rabbits in this particular yurt have more health problems than the rest, so they have to be monitored much closer.
They all do get to go outside everyday, but they have to be carried and placed in outdoor runs except for 3 very smart boy bunnies. These 3 friends know exactly where their outdoor run is, so all you have to do is open up their pin and they will head in the right direction.
Once they are all out side, the cleaning begins.
Each pin has 3 layers of cushion; a fleece on top, towels in the middle, and small padding underneath. Most the rabbits joints are sore, so this helps keep them comfortable. I also want to add that almost all of this bedding comes from donations, so if you have some old blankets you want to get rid of, check out Best Friends website to find out how to send donations.
All of the pins have a litter box made of wood chips and hay, but only one of the rabbits actually uses his, so we have to check all the blankets and towels for wet spots. If they have been soiled, they are put in the laundry, and fresh layers are put out.
Then the water and food bowls are cleaned out and refilled.
While I was cleaning out the pins, Mary had to give a couple of the rabbits extra extra attention. One guy was having some respiratory problems. He was placed in a crate that had a tube running into it for about 15 minutes. This tube puts out vapors with medicine to help his breathing. Once he was done, he got to go outside and play.
The bunny that broke my heart the most was an older female that had lost control of her bodily functions. She had to be cleaned everyday to ward off skin infections. The funny thing is, you would never bath a rabbit normally. They would fight you with all their might if you tried, but this ol’ gal LOVED it!
She was so relaxed through the whole process.
The fact that she had to be bathed everyday wasn’t the reason she broke my heart. It was because she had lost her mate. Rabbits, like many other animals, bond for life. If one of their mates were to pass away, the staff would try and find a new mate for them to bond with.
They didn’t want to put this girl through the stress of finding a new mate because of her condition, so they supplemented with a teddy bear. She loves that teddy bear just like she would another rabbit. She cleans it in the morning and sleeps with it at night.
I know she is happy. It’s just sad seeing her without her bunny friend.
I felt good when I left Rescue Village. Not only because of the immense amount of gratitude from the staff, but also because it showed me the amount of heart Best Friends has for their animals.
If you find yourself volunteering at Best Friends, I strongly recommend looking into Rabbit Rescue Village.