Around every holiday, countless organizations around the country get the word out to make sure people are being responsible when considering whether to get a pet. Easter is no different and, in fact, drums up a bit more support for the cause.
Around this time there is a great increase in the purchase and adoption of rabbits and baby chicks, the two symbols of Easter and spring. However, it as been shown that the novelty of these animals wears off quickly as many of the cute and fuzzy “gifts” are returned before too long. Others are simply abandoned or face a life of neglect.
The problem is that some people look at these animals and assume they are not as much of a responsibility as a dog or a cat. In some cases, they can be more work. The truth is that the adorable little, yellow chick will grow up to be a real-life clucking chicken who requires space to roam, food to eat, supplies to stay healthy, and nearly constant cleanup. The same goes for any bunny you happen to bring home.
These are not animals you can stick in a cage, leave in the basement, or put out in the garage and forget about. Rabbits require vaccinations and vet checkups, objects to chew and scratch, areas to run free, and a clean living space. The last is quite challenging, as rabbits tend to produce more waste because of their inefficient digestive system.
Rabbits can be litterbox trained, but it takes much more work, patience, and dedication. As far as having a chicken roam about the house, between the feathers being shed and eggs being laid and waste being dropped, these animals are notorious for being carriers of salmonella.
The cost is also something that the prospective guardian needs to be aware of, especially in this economy. Many people would believe that it is cheaper to keep a rabbit or a chick, but according to the ASPCA, the yearly cost of a rabbit ($1,055) is just slightly cheaper than that of a small dog and actually a bit more than that required to care for a cat. For a chicken, there must be a coop with the proper bedding. For most people, that cost alone would be far more than originally expected, as it could range anywhere between $300 and $2,000.
All of these factors need to be taken into account before you surprise your child with that fuzzy ball of cuteness. No one is denying the fact that they are cute or saying that a person should not adopt a rabbit or a chick. They can make great pets if under the supervision and care of well-informed people. However, this is simply advocating for responsible decision-making based on a thought process where all of the information has been taken into consideration.
Remember that these are not stuffed animals. These are living, breathing creatures who look to us as the provider when we decide to take them home. We become their source for food, water, shelter, and companionship. Their lives are in our hands, and that is a responsibility that should not be taken lightly or undertaken without a great deal of thought behind it.
For more information about rabbit and chick guardianship, you can visit HumaneSociety.org. — Brendan Quealy