Tammy MacDonald-Flatt was working at a veterinary clinic in Bedford when a group of kids came in holding a little grey bunny they'd found along the train tracks. He wasn't a wild hare, the kind you see in the woods or on the side of the highway, but a domestic rabbit, left to fend for himself. After asking clients, calling the SPCA and plastering posters around town trying to find the owner—or an owner—six months later the abandoned rabbit was still living in the clinic.
"He really had no where to go," MacDonald-Flatt says. "People don't realize these are companion animals that get really neglected, people don't understand their care. There's so much more than watering, feeding and sticking them in a cage."
One person who did respond to her posters was a custodian from Point Pleasant Park. He told MacDonald-Flatt that every year, especially right after Easter, the park is inundated with domestic bunnies who've been "released" into the wild. There are anywhere from 40 to 200 of them, most of which don't survive.
"So I thought, enough's enough and decided to try this," says MacDonald-Flatt. That was the birth of her rabbit rescue, 10,000 Carrots. "I started taking a few into my home, spaying and neutering them and sucking up the costs."
That was in 2010. Now, with the assistance of two volunteer fosters, she cares for anywhere from seven to 10 bunnies at a time—all of which she spays or neuters, and in many cases nurses back to health after injury, malnutrition or worse. Then, she selectively finds them new homes. Her non-profit organization charges $50 to adopt a rabbit, which goes directly back into vet bills.
"I want to help people to understand that these are sentinent, loving little beings, just like a dog or a cat," says MacDonald-Flatt. She says domestic rabbits can live between seven and 14 years, and are intelligent animals that aren't meant to live caged—too many people treat them like hamsters or gerbils. Or worse, like they're treated like disposable pets. "This seems to be the one area that falls through the cracks. I want to promote proper rabbit ownership."
And MacDonald-Flatt is committed to not only staking out the abandoned rabbits she hears about, finding them a warm, welcoming home and educating the public on what it takes to own one of these little guys.
Currently, 10,000 Carrots is Halifax's only dedicated rabbit rescue, with Homeward Bound Pound and SPCA also offering some space for bunnies. For more information on rabbits that are currently adoptable, or to lend a hand, check out facebook.com/10000CarrotsRabbitRescue.