PDA

View Full Version : Should I foster?



Djakarta
08-21-06, 02:15 pm
I need some advice and input from those of you who are familiar with rabbits.

I'm in the process of becoming a volunteer at the local Humane Society.
I've been bringing in greens for the guinea pigs and rabbits for about a month. I'm beginning to know some of the rabbits as individuals.

I'm worried about some of them.

This is Shirley.
http://i67.photobucket.com/albums/h285/Djakarta/Shirley.jpg

Shirley has been at the shelter since 2/9/05. She is about 2 years old. So 3/4 of her life has been at the shelter. She will express polite interest in the fresh veggies, but appears withdrawn and apathetic most of the time. I recently brought her a tissue roll stuffed with KM's bluegrass hay and she looked intrigued and acted almost playful while she examined it. I'm thinking her biggest problem may be boredom.

This is Marcie
http://i67.photobucket.com/albums/h285/Djakarta/Marciecopy.jpg

Marci has been at the shelter since June of 2005. She is about 1 year and 8 months old. Next to Shirley, she has been at the shelter the longest. She also appears withdrawn.

This is Orlando.
http://i67.photobucket.com/albums/h285/Djakarta/Orlando.jpg

Orlando has been at the shelter since last November. He is overweight and in obvious need of space to exercise. His admission card states he was relinquished because he injured another rabbit.

Shirley desperately needs to get out of the shelter. I'm wondering if I should offer to foster her.

I'm not sure I could provide a suitable home environment. My kids are 6 years and 10 years old. Ours is most definitely not a quiet household.

I could certainly provide a bigger cage than she's in now- I've got room to build a 3 by 2 with 3 levels. I also could provide space for her to exercise. I could use 2 "X" pens to bunny proof the living room.

I'm thinking that it would be best to wait until the kids are back in school, so that the house would be quieter during the day.

Do you think that I could provide a suitable environment for her? I've never taken care of a house rabbit before. Would she be better off in an adult only household or a rabbit experienced household?

Do you think it would be best to take care of her as a single bunny ? Or would it be better to see if she could be bonded with one of the other bunnies at the shelter?

The one thing the shelter does provide is the company of other rabbits. The positioning of the cages allows some interaction with the adjacent cages.

Are rabbits more likely to bond with an opposite sexed partner? With Orlando's history, would it be a mistake to try to bond him with Shirley? Or would it be worth while to try to bond Marcie and Shirley?

Would I need to quarantine the rabbits away from the guinea pigs? I know that they can't be housed together, but could they alternate in the same area for floor time exercise? Would they need to be in a separate room initially?

Any input or advice would be greatly appreciated.

HandcuffedAngel
08-21-06, 02:29 pm
The situation is interesting, to say the least. I would say to do your research. Research, research, research.

The decision on whether or not you can care for a bunny properly is really up to you.

As for bonding, I wouldn't because if they become veyr close to each other chances are if they get adopted out they won't be able to go together and so if they go by themselves without the other they could suffer from depression which can be fatal if they refuse to eat or drink anything.

Some downtime for Shirley sounds like it could be very good for her. But how long are you willing to foster? Considering how long she has been in the shelter chances are no one will show up to adopt her for a very long time coming.

As for the kids, it depends on the rabbit. It can get noisy in here buy none of my rabbits seem to really notice or care all that much. Besides, getting it used to kids could be a good thing if a family that has children [the most likely case] decides to adopt her.

I don't see why you should have to completely separate the rabbit from the guinea pigs. I don't think there is any danger there as far as I'm concerned.

aml1676
08-21-06, 02:40 pm
I'm in the process of becoming a volunteer at the local Humane Society. I've been bringing in greens for the guinea pigs and rabbits for about a month. I'm beginning to know some of the rabbits as individuals.

I'm worried about some of them.

Bless you for helping the small animals! Sometimes they're so overlooked in shelters... sort of passed over because people don't know enough about them, and how wonderful they can be to work with.


Shirley desperately needs to get out of the shelter. I'm wondering if I should offer to foster her.

I'm not sure I could provide a suitable home environment. My kids are 6 years and 10 years old. Ours is most definitely not a quiet household.
Based on everything you've said, I think it's possible that you could provide a great foster home for Shirley, or any other rabbit! How do your kids do with your guinea pigs (I'm assuming you have them, since you're here...)? Are they respectful of their space? Do they handle them with care, paying attention to what the piggies like? If yes, your kids would probably do fine with rabbits. Rabbits are incredibly adaptable creatures. I've fostered a lot (I can't count them all without looking at our adoption database) over the last 6 years -- my household is very quiet, since it's just me and a cat. Several of the rabbits I've fostered have gone to homes with kids -- so, from my quiet environment to a busy home -- and have done incredibly well. You may see a whole different side to Shirley once you have her in your house.


Do you think it would be best to take care of her as a single bunny ? Or would it be better to see if she could be bonded with one of the other bunnies at the shelter?
It is harder to adopt out a bonded pair than a single, hands down. I have 2 bonded pairs in foster care right now -- both are loving, sweet pairs that have had exactly NO people interested since they were resurrendered. If there's a chance that you might keep Shirley, I would consider bonding her. Unfortunately, Shirley already has the whole "red-eyed white" thing going on, plus she's a big girl. People are creeped out by the red eyes, and people are intimidated by large rabbits.


Are rabbits more likely to bond with an opposite sexed partner? With Orlando's history, would it be a mistake to try to bond him with Shirley? Or would it be worth while to try to bond Marcie and Shirley?
Rabbits do best when they get to pick their partners, but my experience -- and that of lots of other house rabbit people -- has been that male/female pairings work best and are the easiest. I would try her with Orlando first (are they all altered already?), and if that doesn't work, try Marcie. There are lots of reasons Orlando might have acted out in his former home.


Would I need to quarantine the rabbits away from the guinea pigs? I know that they can't be housed together, but could they alternate in the same area for floor time exercise? Would they need to be in a separate room initially?
I think I would quarantine them initially, just to make sure the bunnies aren't bringing any nasties with them from the shelter, but I can't see why they couldn't share a room/play space after that. I don't have the luxury of keeping my piggies separate from one of my foster pairs -- so far, so good. Bunnies do carry lots of flora in their nasal passages, but I think bordatella is the only real concern as far as bacteria go.

I would definitely recommend fostering, if your heart is leading you that way anyway. I think it's the most rewarding thing I've ever done; rehabilitating an animal, teaching them to be happy and trust, is a special gift.

Djakarta
08-21-06, 03:27 pm
I would regard the fostering period as a testing of my household's suitability as a home. If she thrives here, I would adopt her. If I could bring a bonded partner for her, I'd adopt them both.

I've been reading the House Rabbit Society's website. I'm going to train with one of their volunteers at the shelter.

I guess my main concern is that my home might prove to be too stressful an environment. I also don't want Shirley to trade boredom for loneliness, if she is a single girl.

I think my kids interact well with the guinea pigs. I don't allow them to pick them up. We've set up a pen next to the cage. The kids can pet them and feed them there, but the piggies are free to come and go. Since it's all on floor level, there's no danger of a piggie being dropped.

It's the noise level they produce at other times that I worry about. They tend to whisper at the top of their lungs while playing. My older son is learning to play the trumpet. Ours is a noisy household.

HandcuffedAngel
08-21-06, 03:44 pm
Since you are planning to adopt then I say foster 2 of them. I'd take the two that have been trapped there the longest. If you want to wait until your kids are in school then you can do that, I'm sure. [School starts here next Monday, don't know when it starts for you.]

If you want rabbits then I say at least try it. It never hurts to try.

Best of luck!

bunnyluv17
08-21-06, 08:52 pm
Shelter life is extremely stressful for rabbits and is oftentimes also very noisy, so you're household will probably be calmer and a much more suitable environment for them. I bet they have already had to deal with barking dogs and hundreds of people.

If you are up for a challenge, you might consider trying a threesome with the rabbits so long as they are all fixed. Or maybe you could start out fostering one and see how it goes, then add another if you decide to adopt.

You mentioned that one of the rabbits seemed very bored and there are many inexpensive toys you could bring in to enrich the rabbits' lives such as: small paper bags stuffed with hay, baked pinecones, untreated baskets (easily found at yard sales/thrift stores), hard plastic baby toys (also found at yard sales/thrift stores), caps from laudary detergent (washed well), old phone books, apple tree branches, cardboard boxes, etc... You could also set up a special exercise area for the rabbits at the shelter if they do not already have one and fill it with some toys.

If you find the time, I would also encourage you to try to find ways to improve the adoption rates among the rabbits. Maybe you could hang flyers around town, organize a special adoptathon, or send out emails to shelter supporters. Living life in a shelter is no life at all.

Djakarta
08-21-06, 09:38 pm
Thanks for all the great ideas!

I'm eager to begin work, I just need to complete the orientation process. I'm limited in what I can do until I'm an official volunteer.

The shelter does have a couple of X pens. I can't wait to set them up and put them to good use ! I'd like to see if I could bring in some cubes so that the guinea pigs could also have floor time.

I'm hoping that I can work with a House Rabbit Society volunteer to promote adoptions at the Bunnyfest next month. I think if we could make up a board with pictures and personalized descriptions it might spark more interest.

The House Rabbit Society did sponsor an adoption event a week ago. There were quite a few adoptions. Unfortunately, the shelter has taken in at least 5 new bunnies. There are a few empty cages, which is encouraging.