Finding a New Home for Your Rabbit
It is a difficult decision to find a new home for your rabbit. No matter what brought you together or how long you have known each other, you are the person who cares most about her in the whole world. That means it’s up to you to think carefully about what kind of home will work for her and then to find that home.
The amount of time it will take to find a new home for your rabbit will depend on many things, including your rabbit’s age, health, and behavior...and how hard you work on finding her a new home.
A Word About Behavior Problems
If your rabbit has a behavior problem in your home, she is very likely to have it in her next home as well.
Think carefully about whether the problem she has is one that you can realistically expect anyone to live with (after all, you love her—if you can’t live with her who else will?).
Be honest with a potential adopter about your rabbit’s habits. If you neglect to tell an adopter that your rabbit lunges at you when you clean her cage, when the same problem happens in her new home (and it probably will), if you’re lucky you’ll get an irate phone call. If you aren’t lucky, your rabbit could end up dumped on the street, abused, or worse.
Please note that many behavioral problems can be resolved if your rabbit is spayed or neutered (it takes about 5 weeks after the surgery for the hormones to leave the system). Un-neutered male rabbits spray, and both males and females are much easier to litter train after they have been fixed.
Spayed or neutered rabbits make better companions. They are calmer, more loving, and dependable once the urge to mate has been eliminated. In addition, rabbits are less prone to destructive (chewing, digging) and aggressive (biting, lunging, circling, growling) behavior after surgery. Call your veterinarian for more information.
If your rabbit’s behavior problem is severe, there may not be a home that can successfully manage your rabbit’s behavior.
Preparing Your Rabbit for Adoption
Take your rabbit to the veterinarian. If the rabbit is not already spayed or neutered, do it now! There are too many homeless rabbits in the Pioneer Valley. Because there are just so many, you must ensure that your rabbit does not contribute to this overpopulation disaster. Don’t rely on the adopter to take care of this important surgery. If you need financial assistance to sterilize your rabbit, please contact us at 413-548-9898.
Many people are not familiar with the proper care required for a rabbit. Inform yourself about rabbit care so that you can be equipped to help potential adopters and thus make it possible to create a lasting match.
Plan to place your rabbit as a house pet. When a rabbit spends her time outside by herself she is exposed to the elements and predators, suffers from loneliness, and becomes difficult to handle because she becomes unaccustomed to human companionship. Check with the House Rabbit Society for some great information about caring for rabbits as house pets.
The more attention you give your bunny, the more she will show off for prospective adopters. Petting the rabbit will teach her to look for affection from humans.
Where to Advertise
Contact everyone you know and get the word out that your rabbit needs a new home. This is the best way to place your rabbit. Be sure to include all possible contacts that you have, including work, clubs, church, neighbors, friends, relatives, your groomer and veterinarian, and anyone else you can think of. Spread the word far and wide!
If you adopted your rabbit from a shelter or rescue, contact them! Most shelter and rescue adoption contracts state that if you cannot keep your pet, the pet should be returned to them. Even if your contract does not say that, give them a call and see how they can help.
Post your rabbit for adoption online. Sites you can use include Petfinder.com (go to “Classified Ads”), Freecycle, and Craigslist.
Get a beautiful picture of your rabbit and make a full-page color flyer advertising her for adoption. Be brief and honest about your rabbit on the flyer. Be sure to include information such as her name, age, breed, personality, and what kind of home will work best for her. Post these everywhere you can. Be sure to include locations pet people go, such as veterinary offices, pet stores, and feed stores.
Place an ad in the newspaper’s classified section. Hampshire Gazette: 413-586-1700; Greenfield Recorder: 413-772-0261; Springfield Republican: 413-788-1000. Don’t forget smaller town papers that may be in your area.
Tips for Screening Adopters
When using flyers, the internet, or the newspaper, you will need to screen potential adopters to see if they will be a good match for your rabbit.
- Charge a small adoption fee. If the adopter can’t pay even a small adoption fee, they may not be able to afford to care for your rabbit, either. People who may not be able to afford care may not be able to pass up “free.” This also deters people looking for a free meal for their reptile.
- Talk with the caller about their home circumstances. Are there kids, other pets? Where will your rabbit sleep? Does anyone in the home have allergies? Is your rabbit’s energy level and personality a match for what the caller is looking for? If your rabbit has behavior issues, have they dealt successfully with similar issues in the past with other rabbits? If they are renting, do they have permission to have a rabbit where they live? Engage the caller in conversation about their current or past pets; this will tell you a lot about how your rabbit would be treated.
- Be completely honest about your rabbit’s characteristics, good and bad.
- If everything sounds good, set up a meeting between the caller and your rabbit. If there are other people or dogs/cats in the potential home, you’ll want your rabbit to meet all of them before making a commitment. If you are uncomfortable, remember that you are under no obligation to give your rabbit to anyone.
- Think about what you want to have happen if it doesn’t work out with the new adopter. Do you want your rabbit to come back to you, or is the adopter on her own with problems? Make your expectations clear at adoption time.
- Consider a trial adoption (two weeks or so) before things are finalized. This allows your rabbit some time to settle in at the new house, while you stay in touch with the adopters to ensure things are going well. If your rabbit isn’t a good match, she can come back to you right away.