INDIANAPOLIS - Easter is almost upon us, and while some parents might be tempted to give their children live bunnies or baby chicks, animal welfare advocates stress that bringing any animal into the home should be a well thought-out decision and not just a holiday whim.
Jessica Lifford, executive director of the Indy Humane Animal Welfare Center, says with the right nutrition, housing and exercise, rabbits can make great pets, but they are a long-term family commitment.
"There are a lot of festive things about Easter with dyeing the eggs and decorating," she says. "Live animals just don't have a good place in those kinds of festivities because they sometimes are very easily forgotten after the holiday is over."
Lifford points out many people overlook the fact that fuzzy little chicks will eventually grow into hens or roosters, which are not legal in parts of the state. She suggests parents considering a rabbit give their children a stuffed one for Easter, and then make an appointment with a local shelter to discuss the options after the holiday.
Lifford adds that when it comes to rabbits, it's important to know they can live upwards of 10 years.
She says it is not realistic to expect a child younger than 12 to be the primary caretaker of any animal, so parents need to accept that the responsibility may fall on them for many years.
"Instead of the seasonal consideration, the whole family should sit down and consider the space, the time that they have and the financial resources that they have to care for the animal long term," Lifford advises.
She says those who are ready for the responsibility of an animal should consider adopting from a local shelter.
"If they're being sold at pet stores, sometimes the suppliers before they even get to pet stores may not be so ethical and may not provide the level of care that we think they should," she says.
— Daily News