The Virginia Beach Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals is accustomed to receiving large, furry deliveries. In spring, its shelter might see more than 300 kittens.
But 27 baby bunnies from one person in one day?
Amanda Dunlap, community outreach coordinator for the shelter at 3040 Holland Road, couldn’t remember such a large hand-off of rabbits in her three years at the center.
“This just fell into our laps,” Dunlap said Thursday as she looked at the animals in their cages.
Most were munching on rabbit pellets, drinking water or sleeping.
Dunlap didn’t know details about the bunnies’ previous owner, but she said the parents likely continued to breed because they were not spayed or neutered. The deliveries they’ve seen before typically have come in litters of two to four, she said.
The three-week old rabbits are still too young to adopt. Staff are seeking volunteers to foster them for about two weeks, until they’re ready for neutering and adoption.
Many people don’t know it, Dunlap said, but the animals can be trained to use a litter box and even walk on a leash.
The shelter itself isn’t an ideal space for the young rabbits because it exposes them to germs and is loud, Dunlap said. The young animals do better in more intimate environments, such as a home. About half of the new bunny arrivals have been sent to foster care since their arrival Tuesday.
“An ultimate goal is to find additional foster families,” Dunlap said. “Having a lot of pets for anybody is a difficult thing and requires a lot of resources.”
The bunnies require adequate indoor space to roam freely and rabbit pellet food. Hay helps wear down their constantly growing teeth. The babies have fragile bones because they are still growing, and require lots of love and attention like any other pet, Dunlap said.
“Spending time with them, petting them, socializing them – that’s all very important,” she said.
Once the bunnies are old enough, they return to the shelter to be spayed and neutered and are then ready for adoption. The center currently houses about 50 dogs, more than 20 kittens and about 100 adult cats, as well as hamsters, gerbils, guinea pigs rats, mice and birds.
The shelter aims to find “forever homes” for the animals –owners who will care for the pets past their “young and cute” phase.
“We just want people to remember these guys grow up,” Dunlap said.
The shelter has a 90 percent adoption rate, according to Dunlap.
The shelter is seeking donations of Timothy Hay and rabbit food, as well as TMK kitten formula, to help foster the kittens and bunnies. The items can be purchased at pet supply stores or through the Virginia Beach SPCA’s Amazon wishlist.
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