The San Mateo-based is advising parents to celebrate Easter with chocolate bunnies this weekend instead of with gifts of live rabbits, as the furry companions are notoriously high maintenance.
Rabbits are generally not good pets for children because they do not like to be picked up and do better in quiet environments, Peninsula Humane Society & SPCA spokesman Scott Delucchi said.
The humane society always has about a dozen rabbits available, but Delucchi cautions would-be bunny owners not to make impulse adoptions just because Easter is on Sunday.
"It's always a difficult time for us, and we feel like we're giving a mixed message," Delucchi said.
He said that on the one hand, the humane society always promotes adopting animals, and it thinks holidays can be a good time to do so because kids and parents might be home more, giving them more time to help their new pets adjust.
But adoption agencies want to make sure their clients have thought about how the pets will fit in with their families in the long term.
"Rabbits are a commitment of nine or 10 years -- not nine or 10 months," Delucchi said.
Rabbits are also fairly fragile, he said, and their spines can be injured if they are dropped. They generally do not like to be picked up and carried around, and they sometimes bite.
They would rather be left free to roam in quieter environments and prefer to approach their owners, rather than being pursued, Delucchi said.
Many adopters are also not prepared for the housing demands of rabbits.
They think they can set up a hutch outside and leave their pets there, but rabbits are susceptible to exposure and can be terrified by wildlife such as raccoons hanging around the enclosures, Delucchi said.
"The ideal would be lots of free time in the house," he said. "We talk to people about bunny-proofing houses, like protecting electrical cords."
The Humane Society of the United States has been trying for several years to get the message out about avoiding rabbit, chick and duckling adoptions inspired by the Easter season.
Delucchi said it seems to be working.
The Peninsula Humane Society typically does not see a spike in rabbit adoptions around the holiday, and significantly fewer rabbits are surrendered to the shelter now.
"We take in 200 or 300 rabbits in a year," Delucchi said. "It used to be closer to 500 or 600, and the bulk would be a few months after Easter."
Rabbit purchases and adoptions therefore do not appear to be as seasonal as they used to be, he said.
"We like to think people are more careful these days," he added.
-- Bay City News