Want a new pet? Local animal sanctuary looking for foster families for rabbits

IDAHO FALLS — Now that Easter is over and Mother’s Day is here, many families in eastern Idaho are looking for a new pet.

Haven Hollow Animal Refuge, an animal shelter in Shelley specializing primarily in rabbits, sees an increase in applications for rabbit adoption around this time each year.

The non-profit animal shelter takes in stray and abandoned rabbits. There are 18 people currently living there and the manager Elissa Turpin is looking for families to take care of them as part of their foster program.

“Eight of these bunnies are bonded couples, which means they are best friends and have gone through a bonding process to learn to accept each other. They are adopted together, Turpin told EastIdahoNews.com.

Turpin says rabbits are among the third most abandoned animals at the shelter and if left alone in the wild, they will multiply rapidly and become a nuisance to surrounding neighborhoods and communities.

All of the rabbits at the shelter have been spayed or neutered, which she says not only helps control the population, but their behavior as well.

“Just like with a dog or a cat, it helps them be calmer,” says Turpin. “It is very important to have females spayed because it reduces their risk of contracting cancer of the uterus or ovary.”

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The shelter, formerly known as Remembering Ruby Rabbit Rescue, moved from its former location at 1561 West Sunnyside Road in Idaho Falls last year to a larger building in Shelley. Turpin says the new property has provided more space to accommodate more animals. There are also sheep and roosters.

For those looking to foster a rabbit, she offers some tips and recommendations to keep in mind.

“Since rabbits are prey animals, you really need to earn their trust before they bond with you,” she says. “One of the best ways to get a bunny to like you is to let him come to you.”

It takes patience and having treats for them, like bits of banana, apple or carrot, helps, Turpin says.

“It’s not their diet or what they should eat for their food, but (it works great as a treat),” Turpin explains.

She says many people mistakenly think that rabbits are good pets and quickly learn that they are much more complex. Rabbits can quickly develop behavioral issues if they aren’t housed in a large enough space, and Turpin says they can get scared of you if you handle them too much.

Signing up as a volunteer to foster a bunny is one way to test if it’s something you are capable and committed to doing. The shelter provides all the resources and training the volunteers need while the rabbits are in their care.

“Most rabbits live past 10 years, so it’s a serious commitment and we want people to be educated before they introduce a rabbit, or any other animal, into their lives,” Turpin says.

To apply or find out more, visit the refuge website or The Facebook page. You can also call (208) 557-4029.