BOSSIER CITY, LA (KSLA) - Baby bunnies make cute, soft Easter gifts, but some new rabbit owners may find the hopping critters take more work than they were prepared for.
And that's when the big-eared bundles start getting dumped off into someone else's basket - or arms.
"I just always liked animals period, but rabbits seem to be the one thing I know the most about," said Lou Ann Holley, who started a bunny rescue group when she saw the need.
Holley's Hopping Habitat hatched when she realized there were no rescues for rabbits in the Shreveport-Bossier area. Holley and four volunteers have successfully been able to adopt out hundreds of rabbits within the group's three years of existence.
Now, they are bracing for their busiest time of year, what they call the after-Easter "dumping season," when owners realize taking care of bunnies involves more than petting soft fur and doling out carrots.
"Most of the time it's a bigger responsibility than what people think it's going to be," Holley said.
She cringes when she starts to get calls from owners wanting to get rid of their rabbits, after they realize bunnies require as much care and maintenance as dogs or cats do. She hopes her group can educate the public about responsible bunny ownership.
"It impacts me quite a bit," she said. "We took in about 30 in the weeks after Easter."
Holley recommends doing your homework before you buy that bunny. Most people, she said, don't realize rabbits have life spans of 10 to 15 years. Some breeds can grow to be as big as 9 pounds, like Sweet Pea, the rescue group's mascot.
That's why she started an education class called The Rabbit Club.
"We try to teach everyone, 'Okay now that you have a bunny, this is what you do,' or 'If you are thinking about getting a bunny, this is what she needs to do.'"
The rescue group hopes more families will choose to keep their bunnies after attending the class. The next class is at 2 p.m. April 26 at Tractor Supply in Shreveport.
"We love working with bunnies and helping people, but we really hope we don't get an influx like we did last year," she said. "We really hope people will take into consideration our offer to do the education."
The rescue doesn't charge an adoption fee for the rabbits, but they do require potential adopters to be educated correctly about rabbit care.
The group accepts monetary donations and supplies along with offering adoption services.