Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Pressure Cooker

Recently, there has been talk about a by-law in Toronto allowing people to keep chickens in their backyards. It might have already passed, actually, I haven't been following it very closely. It was certainly expected to pass, and because of that, TAS started to prepare to receive surrendered chickens. This preparation involved building a chicken coop at North York, which is all well and good, because these chickens do need somewhere to go. Unfortunately, the trade-off is that the North region is no longer accepting small animals.

In all honesty, North never took many small animals and they weren't very successful at adopting them, despite some excellent efforts by a few staff. Still, this development means there are only two shelters in the entire city that are open admissions for small animals - East region, and us.
We were already feeling overwhelmed long before this happened. Our rabbit intake in particular has been skyrocketing over the last year. Is this because rabbits are becoming more popular? Or is it because we now have a reputation as a small animal shelter? Whatever it is, it's too much, and with North's small animal intake shrinking rapidly, it's threatening to overflow.

A couple of weeks ago, we got 14 rabbits from a hoarder. The staff asked me about the foster situation, and I said we could keep six. We ended up keeping five.
When I asked why, the staff member shook her head. "We only got 5 out of that bunch. They were in terrible condition - teeth growing out of their mouths and everything. This one kind of went after me, but he's really cute and he was good for the vet, so we saved him - maybe it was just stress."
So we kept five out of fourteen.
They are nice rabbits. They're actually in fairly good conditions, although that is why they're the survivors. Their nails were disgusting when they arrived - I took some pictures (above), but they were much worse than they look there. They are pretty good-natured (with one exception) and somehow, without explanation since they lived in filthy cages, they are perfectly litter trained.
Almost all of them are Netherland Dwarves (or Netherland mixes), so they are incredibly tiny with itty bitty ears. Blackjack here is staying with another foster home. He is a sweet boy although a little shy.
Boris is his twin, basically, except in grey instead of black. He's also a total bully to other bunnies and had to be shipped off to the amazing Grace because he was beating up his companions. With people, he's perfectly nice and laid back, he'll just need to go alone. He's ridiculously dominant considering I can fit him in one hand.
Raven breaks the mold a bit. He's a tiny bit bigger, his fur is thicker and fluffier, and his ears are a little larger. Raven is still with me, although I'd like to get rid of him because I've run out of big cages and the poor guy is stuck in a little cage. He's a sweetie, much quieter than the other two and very gentle. Anyone want to foster him for a bit?
Then we have Abeline, who completely busts out of the mold. She's the only female who was saved, and she's about twice the size of the boys. No Netherland Dwarf here. She's a big, chunky girl with absolutely beautiful eyes. She is so sweet and so timid, I just love her. Poor thing will not show off well in the shelter, she's so easily startled, but she really is just lovely.
And then we have Poe.
This tiny little scruff is the one who 'went after' the staff on the first day. It wasn't just stress. Poe is a territorial little bugger. He also fits in one hand, and he has beautiful colouring although his coat's a mess and good nutrition is doing a slow job of clearing it up.
It's not really his fault. From what I understand, he lived in a tiny cage on his own, probably for most of his life. It's not surprising he's territorial. Hell, it's more surprising they're not all territorial.
Poe is an angry little rabbit. He grunts, he kicks and probably the only reason he hasn't bitten is because I'm much experienced at avoiding bites.
Part of me asks why I'm bothering to try and fix this guy when there are rabbits being turned away at the door. Why spend the time to calm this one down when there are perfectly nice rabbits who don't get the chance to find a home? But for whatever reason, I'm trying. I think there's a nice rabbit in there somewhere - once you get him out of the pen, he really likes to give kisses. As long as you don't upset him, which is ridiculously easy to do. We'll see what happens.

All five of these guys are still in foster care. Abeline and the delightful Poe are at my house for the long-run, Raven is also at my house but hopefully leaving soon (?), Blackjack is at another foster home and Boris is living the sweet life with Grace.
They're not in foster care because they're waiting for anything. Blackjack and Abeline need to be fixed, but Raven, Poe and Boris are all neutered and ready to go. They're still in foster care because there is simply no room for them in Room. There hasn't been room for them for three weeks now.

I think my posts are becoming gradually more gloomy and negative, but the Room feels like a pressure cooker these days. It's meant for on average, 6-8 rabbits, but these days we regularly have over 15. Who knows when these guys will get a chance to find a home?


Caroline said...

Great job with the rabbits, keep it up!

digby&sassy said...

Some bossiness with other bunnies aside, Boris is a wonderful house guest. A proclivity for dumping his food all over the floor, and then his water on top of the food (sigh), he is very well-behaved and polite. He gets along well with dogs - big and small - and with cats, and is a pretty fearless little fellow. He is, as they say, the small package that good things come in, and he's make a great addition to a non-bunny-owning home, or to a home with another bunny that is happy to keep these two living separate, peaceful lives. Boris T. Bunny awaits your call!