My Rabbit

Hey, people! It's that time of year again when I ask you to support my favorite animal shelter, Red Door, Chicago's only rabbit/cat/dog/duck/chicken shelter. This year we saved a ton of animals, and as a no-kill shelter, that means we either adopt them out or they are ours for life.

Here are some reasons to give as much as you can this year:
-   Over 50 rabbits found outside and rescued since last Easter, despite the participation of many local pet stores in our Easter-week rabbit amnesty program.
-  A "donation" of a mama rabbit and her nine babies last month. 

  Amusing, but very expensive to spay/neuter. (Fact: A rabbit's gestation period is 30-35 days.)
-  We also have amazing cats--right now, up for adoption, the sweetest, most fun batch of cats we've ever had--and I would take four of them home if that were feasible.
-  We still donate food and supplies to a community center on Howard Street--for people of reduced circumstances who couldn't bear to part with their beloved pets for lack of food. To me, this is one of our greatest achievements.

And then there is this adventure I got to take part in, something that is all-too-common among the shelter's rabbit volunteers:

When rabbit owners dump (or "set free") their pet rabbits, if the rabbits are lucky, Red Door hears about it. A call comes into the shelter, or an e-mail, or somebody spots a domestic rabbit in a yard and texts a shelter volunteer or a Board member. The Red Door Rescue Crew hops into action. An email goes out to all volunteers with the appearance, coordinates, any notable behaviors or patterns observed. A time is set for 2-6 people to meet with pens and a carrier.

A few months ago, for the first time, I was one of those people.

A man named Jordan saw a rabbit dumped from a van on Ridge Avenue and Granville in Chicago--steps from traffic on one side and train tracks on the other. When I arrived on a Sunday morning, traffic was non-stop, but I crossed the street from where I had parked and spotted the rabbit almost immediately. I waited for the experienced rabbit wranglers to arrive, and we put a pen around the rabbit to block a death-leap into traffic. Then Mike got the rabbit into a carrier with very little trouble.

Because of the description of the dump, and the location of where we found him, we estimate that the rabbit had probably sat terrified, not moving, for over 24 hours.

When Mike and Liz were about to leave with the rabbit, I peered into the carrier, crisis over, almost giddy. The rabbit looked healthy, terrified, scrambling a little. I said: "You have no idea right now how lucky you are." Going to the best shelter for rabbits--best care, best knowledge, best at finding awesome forever homes. Life just got a whole lot better for this rabbit, though he didn't know it yet.

Turns out, Jordan (named for the initial caller) is something of a snuggler. Despite being prey animals, some rabbits actually don't mind being held.

He'll be lapped up soon by a family that passes Red Door's requirements. But until then, when I see him doodling around in a pen or munching salad, I stop in front of him and say softly, "My rabbit."
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Tamara Friedman 
Evanston, IL
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