For the love of bunnies

Whenever strangers spot Kimi Miller, who lives in Hobe Sound, heads turn—not because of her own beauty, but because she’s often wearing a fur over her shoulder. A rabbit fur.

On close inspection, though, a wriggling bunny nose reveals that this “garment” is alive and a very-much-pampered pet. “I keep Serena indoors and she uses a litter box like a cat,” explains this former “bunny girl” volunteer, who has fostered more than 150 rabbits from The Rabbit Room at the Humane Society of St. Lucie County in Ft. Pierce. “Not all bunnies learn litter box, so that is a reason why I encourage adoption, so one can ask these questions and then adopt the right bunny for them.”

Rabbits, the third most-abandoned pet in the US, don’t need vaccinations, but they can die quickly without veterinary care should they become ill. “Rescue” rabbits are already micro-shipped, spayed or neutered, so there’s no danger of unexpected, little surprises a few weeks after taking them home. Rabbits have a life expectancy of 10 years, they get along well with dogs and cats, and can be an especially good companion for apartment dwellers since they neither bark nor howl. “The only reasons not to have a bunny,” Kimi says, “are if you are working all the time so you are never home, or if you travel a lot, because bunnies need good care.”

Tracie Harris is the “bunny girl” volunteer now at the St. Lucie County shelter, who also fosters rabbits. She has three tiny under her care that she’ll keep at her home until they’re large enough to be spayed or neutered and moved into the shelter. Currently, there are five rabbits at the St. Lucie shelter, and six rabbits ready for adoption at the Humane Society of the Treasure Coast in Palm City. “On average, we adopt out about 30 per year,” says Tracie. “The most we have ever had in the two years I have been doing this was during the 2009 summer, and we had 28 at the shelter. We get all shapes, sizes and colors, and we even get in some pedigrees.”

Those usually come from people who are moving and cannot take their rabbit with them. Some, though, are picked up as strays by animal control. “We had a large Havana that had to have part of his nose removed because another animal attacked him in the wild and tore it,” Tracie says.
Another, Cookie, was starved when Animal Control found him. “Raven and Lily were picked up by Animal Control and we believe they somehow escaped a breeding operation,” Tracie says.

Lily, a female New Zealand, is the largest rabbit at the St. Lucie shelter, weighing 18 pounds. “She is super sweet and enjoys being held,” Tracie says. “She is a perfect lap bunny for an older person, but would also be good in a home with children as nothing phases her. She likes to play with cats, and she is litter-box trained.” Raven, a female Havana weighing about 15 pounds, also loves to play with cats, likes to be held, and is litter-box trained, but needs room to run. Charlie is a male Dutch mix, litter-box trained, and weighs about 4 pounds. “He is a sweet boy, but a little shy about being held,” Tracie says. “Because he is under a year old, he needs lots of exercise and play time, but he needs to be in a home without dogs.”

Peter, litter-box trained, is a sweet, lop-eared bunny. He was surrendered because he fought with his cage mate. “He has recovered from his wounds and would make a great addition to a family with children,” Tracie says.

Lacey, a female Rex rabbit, was found wandering in a park by Animal Control. She is beginning to trust humans again, loves cats, unafraid of large dogs and is litter-box trained. “She would do best in a home with older children,” Tracie says. “She needs someone willing to help her get over her fear of humans.”

Adoption fees are $25 at both shelters, which includes spay/neuter and a microchip. Both shelters need more volunteers and foster “parents.” “Our volunteers are wonderful,” Tracie says. “The produce stand, Garden of Eden (at US1 and Easy Street, Fort Pierce) provides the shelter with vegetable trimmings, and other volunteers are Richard Pfiester and Joe Edwards, who give excellent care tips and advice. For more info: call the Humane Society of St. Lucie County at (772) 461.0687 or the Humane Society of the Treasure Coast (772) 223.8822.
And more bunnies at the Humane Society of the Treasure Coast in Palm City

Sara Kyle works in the “Rabbit Room” at the Humane Society of the Treasure Coast and says that 11 bunnies were adopted last month, but they still have six left. Casper is a white male, American breed, with pink eyes, black ears and spots on his nose. Oreo is a vivid black-and-white American.
Binky, a male American, has grayish black fur tinged with a silvery white. Cobbler, a male American, has brown fur awash with black.
Nicky, a female dwarf rabbit, has golden brown fur, and Snookie, also a dwarf, is a lighter shade of brown.