Easter is associated with spring, renewal and new life. Well-meaning parents or family friends may gift baby chicks and bunnies to children in honor of that tradition.
Yet so often after Easter, chicks and bunnies given as Easter gifts are surrendered to animal shelters because they became unwanted as they grew and needed increased maintenance.
Rabbits and chickens are excellent pets for those who are familiar with the maintenance necessary for healthy, happy pets.
“Rabbits and chickens can live 10 years or longer, so those who adopt the animals should be prepared for that commitment,” said Dave Dickinson, Director of Sacramento County’s Department of Animal Care and Regulation.
“Before adopting any animal, people should ask themselves, ‘Can I provide specialized diet and housing needs? Can I provide care during travel and vacations? Will this animal be a good match for my family in 3-5 years?’”
Considerations for adopting chicks and bunnies include: Whether or not the owner’s property is zoned to keep chickens; roosting quarters for chickens; spaying and neutering; proper exercise.
Alternatives for live animals as Easter gifts can include chocolate rabbits or stuffed rabbit and chick toys.
Other Easter tips for pet owners:
• Keep Easter baskets away from pets, as chocolate and tiny toys can be dangerous or fatal
• Use plastic eggs instead of hard-boiled eggs for the hunt: dogs may find and eat the unfound, spoiled egg and become sick
• The Easter Lily is a toxic plant to pets; it can cause kidney failure when ingested, so keep the plant away from animals
• With the warmer spring weather, dogs and cats will be spending more time outside; make sure your animal is spayed or neutered to prevent unwanted litters, and keep license and vaccinations up to date
The Sacramento County Bradshaw Shelter’s website has many resources: licensing, vaccination, spay and neuter services, adoptable animals and volunteer/foster information.