Easter bunny horror stories: Resist the urge to give rabbits, ducks, chicks
Easter bunny horror stories are a post holiday tradition, say animal control officials across the US. The cute gifts – rabbits, ducks, chicks – suddenly get abandoned or maltreated because they were impulse buys. Pubescent bunny behavior is not cute; and the fowl mess can be a rude surprise.
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Ducklings for sale tend to be byproducts of the food industry, she says. They can float on water, but that’s where the similarities between ducks in the wild end. They’re heavier than normal ducks and won’t migrate because they can’t fly. They’re more vulnerable to temperature changes and, like young Kelley discovered, easy targets for predators.Skip to next paragraph
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Chicks, too, tend to be byproducts of the food industry. If a company needs 15 million hens, they’re hatching 30 million eggs and instead of destroying all the unwanted chicks, the industry finds ways to market them as Easter pets, Ms. Coston says.
Mixed in with the unwanted female chicks are the few male chicks that the industry didn’t automatically destroy. Unsuspecting owners are often surprised when a chick grows into a rooster, and city officials come pecking with a citation for breaking municipal zoning codes.
Ultimately, regretful parents start making phone calls looking for what few animal shelter vacancies there are, and staff start tripping over boxes left on their doorsteps in the middle of the night.
At Farm Sanctuary headquarters in New York, placement coordinator Collin Henstock is the sole person tasked with taking the calls. “It’s just an overwhelming amount,” he says. “After awhile you just know you’re not going to save every animal."
Mr. Henstock says he takes calls from looking to surrender as many as 20 Easter animals from one person.
And that's just people who call to surrender their Easter castoffs. Owners will abandon their Easter animals into the wild, says Coston. She recalls one woman two years ago who called in after discovering a team of ducks walking through her backyard and said: "I'm not sure what happened, but I looked outside and I saw six white ducks." They were the perfect age for Easter ducklings.
Coston also recalls one source bringing in 50 chicks after Easter.
Rabbits are the third most surrendered animal in the country behind cats and dogs, says Martin, who notes that in the San Francisco bay area hear her, 37 stores sell rabbits but only 18 rescue shelters exist to take them in, she says.
While not the case everywhere, calls to select HRS chapters nationwide were met with a voicemail message announcing their shelters were filled to capacity.
What animal rescue and sanctuary staff want to get across to adults is that a large number of these Easter animals, purchased for the fleeting attention of a young child, will end up euthanized at a shelter or set free into the wild to be snatched by a predator.
For animal control and rescue workers it is as traditional as the Easter dinner -- just not as celebrated.
“These are live animals. It isn't funny. It's a sad state of affairs that we see them as almost disposable, like a trinket you have at a holiday,” Coston says. “It's like the goldfish keeps dying but you just get another goldfish.”