Finding a Home for a Rabbit
Dependent on private volunteer foster homes to house our rabbits awaiting adoption, NJ House Rabbit Society (NJHRS) works on a restricted admission basis and as such, we simply cannot take in all the rabbits in need of a new home.
Additionally, most other rabbit rescue organizations are filled to the brim with homeless rabbits. Shelters may have more room, but your rabbit may also be killed if a home is not found soon. Additionally, most shelters are not adequately equipped to house and properly care for rabbits.
If this is your rabbit and you are giving him/her up, we ask you to seriously reconsider.
♦ If there are behavioral issues that are causing a problem, it could be due to a medical issue. It may also be that your rabbit simply needs to be spayed or neutered. Far too many rabbits are given up, when all they needed was to be neutered to correct a behavior issue such as lunging/growling and nipping at your legs/feet. See our low-cost program here.
♦ If it is because of allergies, you should explore this further. You can read more at: Living with Rabbit Allergies, A Fosterer's Allergy Experience, Allergies and Children and Rabbits. Maybe it's the hay or the litter you use, not your rabbit. Many times, if you truly care and want to keep your rabbit, a solution can be found.
♦ If you feel you are not giving enough time to your rabbit, adopting a second one and giving them adequate living quarters will resolve this and also give a home to a homeless rabbit. Email us for more info.
If you must, how to go about finding a new home.
Whether this is your rabbit you are looking to re-home, or a stray who found her way to your door, we suggest that you network among friends, family and co-workers--people that you know--for a new home.
♦ create adoption flyers and post them at veterinary offices, pet supply stores, feed stores, etc...
♦ look at PetFinder to find rabbit rescues near you. Simply put in your location, choose rabbit and click "find pets." It will come up with rescues local to you that you can contact.
♦ NJHRS is available to list the rabbit on our website. Please click here to learn details.
Do not be tempted to just "let the rabbit go" in a park. A domestic rabbit will not survive predators or cars for long and does not have the skill to adequately find food and water. Letting a rabbit go is a certain painful death sentence. Additionally, abandoning a rabbit is illegal under New Jersey law.
WARNING: You must be VERY careful when adopting out your rabbit. Do not advertise rabbits as “FREE.” Always ask an adoption fee of at least $50.00. There are people who routinely look for rabbits (especially those who are "free to a good home") to sell them to laboratories for experimentation, use them for animal sacrifice or as bait in dog fighting, make them food for snakes, and more. Please use common sense and exhibit due diligence in finding a new home for your rabbit. His or her future depends on you.
Be very, very careful about placing your rabbits with just anyone. Animal abusers are slick. They can fool many people. In 2008 in Monmouth County here in NJ, a man confessed to beating, stomping and torturing cats and kittens before drowning them in his bathtub. He took in cats from animal rescuers and cats who were “free to a good home.” He fooled everyone.
Screening people who wish to adopt
♦ Be prepared to screen people thoroughly (see Suggested Screening Questions below)
♦ Ask for references (veterinarian, group they may have adopted from before, apartment manager, especially if they rent - you need to be sure the complex allows animals)
♦ Go to their home and see where your rabbit will be living. You must be assertive enough to say no if you are not happy with what you see.
♦ Always have people fill out an adoption application and if they do adopt from you, have them fill out an adoption contract. Please feel free to download our sample Adoption Application and Adoption Contract to use.
♦ DO NOT adopt on the spot! Take the application, check out the references, give the person a week to really think about the adoption and then get back to the prospective adopter.
Following the above suggestions will help weed out impulse adoptions, where your rabbit will only be given up in a short amount of time because the person wasn't truly serious and didn't think about the time and the care that a rabbit needs.
We don't have a quick solution for finding a new home for a rabbit. There are many animals of all kinds needing homes and shelters are continuously crowded. It takes time and legwork to find a truly good home for any animal. We hope our suggestions are helpful.
Suggested Screening Screening Questions
When screening possible adopters for rabbits, the following are questions that should be addressed. Of course you can add more of your own.
1) Have you lived with a companion rabbit?
2) If so, what was your experience?
3) If not, why are you considering a companion rabbit?
4) What have you learned about rabbits?
5) Who will be in charge of the rabbit?
6) Where do you plan to have the rabbit live?
7) Are you aware that rabbits should have occasional check-ups done by a veterinarian with specific rabbit experience?
8) Are you prepared for and able to pay for veterinary care as it is required?
9) Does anyone in your household have allergy issues?
10) What other animals live with you?
11) How many people live in the household and what are the ages of the youngest?
12) Do you live in an apartment or your own home?
13) If you live in an apartment, what is the management’s policy regarding animals?
Questions 1, 2, 3, 4: It is important to assess what the potential adopter knows about rabbits. Even though they may know nothing about rabbits doesn't mean they can't be a good home. We all were novices at some point. However, before placing a rabbit in such a home, direct the applicant to these wonderful RESOURCES:
♦ The House Rabbit Handbook by Marinell Harriman, available at Barnes and Noble on-line booksellers or at Drollery Press.
Have them read more about rabbits BEFORE you pursue the adoption.
Question 5: An adult must be in charge of rabbit supervision, for safety and for the continued good care and well-being of the rabbit. Children lose interest quickly and a rabbit’s needs must be taken care of daily. Rabbits are not living toys for children.
Question 6: Indoor life will give the rabbit a good chance at a long life. Freedom to run and explore is preferable to cage living. Use of exercise pens to make a safe habitat is discussed in both the aforementioned resources and NJHRS volunteers would be happy to talk to your potential adopters more about freedom habitats for rabbits.
Question 7, 8: Reality, all animals require routine medical attention. Basic annual wellness visits running $100 or more should be expected.
Question 9: Allergy issues should be addressed with a health care professional before adding a rabbit to the household. You do not want to take the chance that the situation does not work out and your rabbit is relocated another time, and possibly to a shelter.
Question 10: Rabbits should not live with certain breeds of dogs. You can read more about this at Dogs and Rabbits and NJHRS volunteers are also available to discuss this with you further.
Question 11: If there are small children in the household, they must be taught what is appropriate and safe behavior when interacting with rabbits. As a general rule toddlers and rabbits are not the best mix (for the safety of the rabbit and the child). Again, the aforementioned resources have useful information on this topic.
Question 12, 13: It's important to know apartment policy, otherwise, once again your rabbit may be in a difficult situation.
Updated: May 14, 2017