GTPulse: The Fluffle House Gives Pet Rabbits a Second Chance at a Loving Home
A lot of people’s first experience falling in love with a pet was having a family cat or dog when they’re a kid. The first pet I fell in love with was a calico cat named Emmy. My dad found her in a picker bush when I was little, and she really grew up with me. She was sweet and loving through our middle school years, moody and aloof with me through high school. When I used to sneak out to meet friends she usually wanted out to prowl around the neighborhood too. When I would get home she’d be patiently waiting for me by the side door, both of us exhausted and ready for bed. Jessica Tibbs fell in love with her own first pet three years ago when she got a pet bunny. Jessica was new to Traverse City and wanted a cuddly and quiet companion.
“Her name was Winnie. It was before I really knew anything about bunnies. I actually got her from a breeder, and I fell crazy head over heels in love with her. She had such a spunky personality.”
She bonded so well with Winnie that she wanted another pet rabbit. Jessica wanted to be able to get her next bunny from a rescue, but when she went searching she couldn’t find a Northern Michigan bunny rescue.
“That led me to think if people don’t want their pet bunnies anymore where are they going?”
“A lot of people think that because there are wild rabbits, they can release their rabbit into the wild. A lot of domesticated rabbits released into the wild likely won’t survive 24 hours.”
When Winnie passed away Jessica connected with a woman named Lauren Swick who rescued cats. Lauren had a bunny she was looking to rehome and Jessica was happy to finally get a chance to adopt a rescued bunny.
“Me and Lauren hit it off pretty quickly. She’s actually my partner in this. She lives down in Lansing, and we have four of our fosters down in Lansing and I have two up here. So we have six fosters, and we’ve rescued twelve total.”
There’s a spike in pet rabbit purchases during Easter because people give them to kids as Easter gifts.
“About 80 percent of those bunnies don’t make it past their first year of life.”
Pet stores don’t often have strong education on bunnies, and they advocate for smaller cages which isn’t great for a pet rabbit’s quality of life. Jessica has taken a lot of time to educate herself on pet rabbits, including their health concerns.
“Unfortunately, bunnies have really sensitive GI tracts. A common killer of bunnies is GI stasis, and their GI tract just gets clogged up. Whether it’s hair, whether it’s stress, anything can send them into it. Unfortunately, Winnie had GI stasis.”
Winnie was only a year and a half old when she passed. Typically, pet rabbits can live 10 to 12 years when they’re well cared for.
“They are a long term commitment. They require vet visits. They’re 75 percent less likely to get cancer if they’re spayed or neutered.”
When pet rabbits are surrendered to The Fluffle House, there’s a $25 fee. The fee goes towards the steeper $95 sterilization cost that is apart of the rescue process. Beyond the specialized vet costs, Jessica and Lauren spend about $1.50 a day on food per each rescue bunny.
Jessica said that pet rabbits can be a nice pet for someone who wants an animal that’s less maintenance than a dog, but more affectionate than a cat. Bunnies don’t like to be picked up, but they do like to be pet and to snuggle up next to their owner. She also said it’s great to let them roam freely around the home if possible, but if not, allowing them time in a corralled off pen outside is a great way to keep them exercised and entertained.
“We’re able to take donations, we’re able to apply for grants. Our next step would be trying to partner with pet stores or things like that to have adoption events. Try to get our bunnies more out there so they can get their forever homes.”
There are currently six bunnies up for foster or adoption, and an application process is required for both. For those who want to foster, The Fluffle House will supply all the necessary items to accommodate, entertain and feed a foster bunny. Foster parents just need to provide the space. For those looking to adopt there is a fee. Applications can be found on their website at www.theflufflehouse.org.