Precaution urged when buying chicks, bunnies for Easter

Staff at local animal shelters urge against purchasing chickens and rabbits as Easter presents, especially ones dyed bright colors. (Courtesy photo)
Staff Writer

While a baby rabbit or chicken may seem like a cute and festive Easter gift for children, a lot of research and care needs to be taken before welcoming them into your family.

"I am one of the people who highly recommends against that because there are very few people that that works out for long-term," West Point-Clay County Animal Shelter Director Lisa Henley said. "It's fun and it's a money making gimmick for Easter, which also is not what Easter is all about. They are not generally regarded as a pet."

Oktibbeha County Humane Society Outreach Coordinator Sarah Buckleitner said the decision to get a chick or a bunny for Easter depends on the situation, but generally she discourages it.

"The majority of them don't survive, and you get something thats cute and fluffy and a bright color, and it grows into an adult that not a lot of people are not capable of taking care of," Henley said.

Buckleitner said if a family has done research on how to properly care for the animal and has a proper chicken coop, raising chickens or rabbits can be a positive experience for children.

"What we don't want is someone to go into a store spur of the moment and think, 'I'm going to get some chicks for my kids,' without any prior thought or research," she said. "When that happens usually they have to get rid of the animals in a few weeks or something bad happens to it."

Buckleitner said in many cases, people think taking care of a rabbit is similar to taking care or a hamster or gerbil. However, they can live ten or more years, and they have specific care needs and are intelligent and trainable, much like cats. Some breeds of rabbits can also grow to be very large.

Buckleitner said if the decision is made to purchase chicks for Easter, the animals that are dyed in bright colors should always be avoided.

"The chemicals are leaking into that baby animal, and it is altogether a bad situation," she said.

Henley said once the animals grow up, the children lose interest, and the family is stuck finding a farm or animal shelter to take in the animals.

"Generally small children don't need little bitty chickens or little bitty bunnies, and most of them don't stay in the home long-term, which is sad for everyone," Henley said.

Henley said the West Point-Clay County Animal Shelter only takes dogs and cats because they do not have the housing or staff to care for rabbits, chickens or any other exotic animals.

Buckleitner said, while not necessarily Easter related, OCHS does take in rabbits from time to time, and recently someone tried to bring in a chicken.

Henley said she and her staff stress that when people adopt any animal, a live-long plan for that animal's care needs to be in place before getting the animal.