As we wrap up our Celebration of our 10 Year Anniversary, we've given away five different awards that encompass not only who Rabbit Hole Hay is, but also who our customers are!
We've showcased our Award Winners through "Meet the Winner/Customer Spotlight" interviews here on our blog. This way you can learn about our award winners and hear their stories!
Our final award, the Treat Your Self Award, is going to be different from our previous awards! Our wonderful customer, Michelle, won the award for purchasing the most Apple Chew Sticks from us, yet Michelle is what some call an angel donor and faithfully donates all the chew sticks to a rabbit rescue in Las Vegas. Since her prize will be donated as well, she thought it would be wonderful to give the customer spotlight to the rescue she donates to.
Enjoy reading and getting to know Erin, the woman who started Rabbit Rescue Las Vegas or as they are known on Facebook, Rusty and Furriends: Vegas Dumpsite Bunnies.
Q. What Inspired You To Start A Rabbit Rescue?
Well, I have had rabbits off and on for 30 years. Originally, I started fostering and volunteering for House Rabbit Society in California. Then we started to spend half our time in Las Vegas. I found a really good vet in Vegas. She wanted to work with me, so she set up a rescue discount for spay and neuters and all that. There was this huge dumpsite where there was like 800 to 1,000 rabbits. I started working out there. I started taking in high special needs like bunnies with two broken back legs, bunnies that were dying, bunnies that have abscesses. They basically were just domestic rabbits that were either dumped, or their parents were dumped and they were born outside, but they still had traits like indoor bunnies. I got really hooked, and there were so many of them.
While I don't have a 501(c)(3), I've been able to connect with people in a transparent way that has really helped in people wanting to donate and help me take care of the bunnies I'm rescuing. I ended up making each bunny a little Facebook page and they each developed their own following. These bunnies were super popular on Facebook and they even got Christmas gifts every year. People like to see them go from being almost dead to being rehabbed.
I do the rescue. I provide education. I have a small team of local foster families and volunteers. Beyond that, I do outreach across the United States and even globally. My little grassroots rescue really has grown into sort of a rabbit community.
Since 2015. I didn't realize it but, I was getting ready to start in 2013 and 2014 by volunteering at a shelter beforehand.
My commitment to the rabbits is, if I can find them a home as good or better than this then they're going.
Q. Why Do You Enjoy Rescuing Rabbits?
Rabbits are so much smarter than cats and dogs. They're quiet, but communicate very clearly without barking or meowing. They are also very intuitive and have their own individual unique personalities.
I've been into rabbits for decades and always liked them. Yet, even dog or cat people can accidentally get involved in rabbit rescue.
I had a recent adopter who has always had cats, but now she has this rabbit. The rabbit is now the little princess of the house and runs the cats. It's all about Mango the rabbit now, even though this adopter was totally a cat person. She still loves her cats, but she is obsessed with this rabbit.
Q. What's Your Adoption Process?
I'm picky about my actual adoption process. I don't want anyone getting one of my rabbits unless they fall in love with a particular rabbit. If you went to the Facebook Page or my website, you wouldn't see a gallery of rabbits. Most rescues post all their photos of their adoptable rabbits. People just know that I rescue rabbits. If someone contacts me about being interesting in adopting, I talk with them about their household, what other rabbits or pets they have. Then I get a feeling and I send them pictures of one to three rabbits.
Again, I am very particular about who gets the rabbits. I turn away people who message me asking for a specific type of rabbit, like a Holland Lop or Lionheads, for two reasons. The first one being that I don't usually have those types of rabbits in my rescues. Second, if you contact me you have to want to save a life, even if it's the rabbit that has been here the longest or the one who isn't that friendly. I have reject rabbits that I adopt out, they are my favorites - the ones that no one wants.
If the person contacting me is close by, then I'll do a home visit with them before agreeing to let them adopt one of my rabbits. Though I did a lot of virtual adoptions way before the pandemic because I was transporting my rabbits from Vegas to the East Coast, even 25 rabbits went to Canada. When I started out, there weren't a lot of rabbit savvy homes in Vegas, most of my rabbits were traveling and being virtually adopted out across the United States.
During the virtual visit I would ask them who they plan to use as a vet, if they already had rabbits or a vet, and I might even ask for vet references to check them out. I have an almost zero rate of return and that's because I am so picky about the actual adoption process.
Q. What's The Advice You Have For New Rabbit Owners?
You should be prepared to save money, to have a little emergency vet fund, because rabbits are expensive. You need to think about how much time you have to spend with the rabbit. Can you make a lifetime commitment? Because a rabbit is going to live between eight to 12 years. If you have big dogs or something, it's probably not a good pet for you. They might not be snuggly. If you want something to hug, get a stuffed animal, or get a cat because rabbits may not be cuddly.
Q. Anything Else You Want To Share With Our Customers?
I think rabbit people should keep finding new ways to engage their rabbits. They can take Rabbit Hole Hay and make DIY toys and things like that.
I swear I'm morphing into a rabbit because when I when I go shopping, or really anything I do, I'll see things and think, "A rabbit would like that." The other day I was organizing cardboard in the garage and there was this folded piece. I was like, "Look, it makes a tunnel but it's too small for rabbits." Then I go, "But my guinea pig friend." Then I folded it and it actually had these little slots where it could actually be connected. It made this perfect rectangle. I looked through it with my eye, and I go, "This is totally big enough for baby guinea pigs." You start to see the world through the lens of an actual small pet.
Lastly, I'd like rabbit owners to think about other rabbits, not just their own. This is what I always encourage on my own Facebook page. Have you thought about bringing greens to your local municipal shelter? Have you asked the shelter if they would let you bring toilet paper rolls stuffed with hay? Would they let you bring DIY toys to the shelter? Then you go to the shelter and volunteer to do one shift, because even if you only have an hour a week and that shelter allows you to be with the rabbits, you can snuggle a shy bunny, and that one visit a week can make a difference in that bunny being adopted through you giving it individual attention.
What small thing can you do to help another organizations or another rabbit besides your own? There's so many rabbits out there right now, and guinea pigs, that they're not all going to be adopted. They're going to live their life either at the shelter or in the rescue.
What can you do as an individual? You don't need to become this major volunteer for a rescue or shelter. Even if you don't take a shift a week, can you bring holiday salads for the bunnies? Can you make some enrichment toys? Can you buy three dollar blankets at Walmart twice a year and bring them to the shelter?
Then don't forget about the guinea pigs! They need all the love and attention as well.