Posted: September 24, 2013, 9:40 p.m. EDT
© Marylou Zarbock
If you saw a stroller at Bunnyfest, odds are it had a bunny in it!
The first day of fall in 2013 was also the day for Bunnyfest in San Diego. It was a breezy, sunny day that was perfect for a bunny outing and bunny watching. The San Diego House Rabbit Society (SDHRS) organized the event, and it estimates that about 1,000 to 1,100 people attended. Attendance last year was estimated at 750 people.
Bunnyfest is the big annual fundraiser for SDHRS, and this was its 21st year. This year’s big news included an official proclamation from the city of San Diego that September 22, 2013, was San Diego House Rabbit Society Day.
"This was so exciting!” said Judith Pierce, co-chapter manager and adoptions director at SDHRS. "We are very pleased that the city recognized our organization and the work it does on behalf of abandoned rabbits in San Diego County. We were honored to receive the proclamation.”
More big news came from the Society itself, which is planning to open a stand-alone shelter. Currently, rabbits they aid are fostered in members’ homes and adopted out during Sunday adoptions to pre-screened applicants at the SDHRS Bunny Store in Kearny Mesa.
Pierce said members have discussed opening a shelter for some time, and this year’s Bunnyfest was the chance to explain the plans and make a big fundraising push.
"We are in essence really ‘launching’ the fundraising and communications about the shelter so we can get closer to being able to acquire a building and get started putting it together for a shelter,” she said.
Sponsors and donations are a big part of the fundraising. Pierce said they were grateful to all the event sponsors, especially Petco Foundation. "With their support, we were able to cover all expenses for the event, so all proceeds coming in will be earmarked for the shelter,” Pierce said. "We have a separate account we are keeping for the shelter and the funds will go there.”
She added that other sponsors were Acacia Animal Health Center, Pet Emergency & Specialty Center, Palomar Animal Hospital, Rancho San Diego Animal Hospital and Champion Packaging.
© Marylou Zarbock
Probably the most frequently asked question at Bunnyfest was, "May I pet your rabbit?"
Bunnyfest is a wonderful way to meet other rabbit owners, talk about rabbits, give your rabbit a "spa day,” shop for products for your rabbit or yourself, participate in games with your bunny, bid on an amazing array of silent auction items, learn more about bunnies and much more.
Pierce said this year’s event went well. "We got excellent feedback from attendees and vendors alike,” she said. "All of our vendors asked to come back next year, so that's a good sign that they did well. The weather was beautiful so I'm sure that contributed to an increased attendance. Many people stated they were very glad it was not too hot. I've also received several emails from volunteers about how much fun they had working the event.”
This year alone, SDHRS and its satellite rescue, Lucky Bunny, in Murrieta has rescued 185 rabbits and given medical care to 375. Pierce explained that SDHRS provides spay/neuter and medical care to rabbits in shelters that don’t have funds for these medical costs.
Pierce estimates that in the 21 years of its existence, the SDHRS (along with Lucky Bunny) has rescued 3,000 rabbits. She added that this number does not include all the rabbits they help in local shelters and strays they get calls about and round up to take to local shelters.
"I can easily say that we ‘affect’ the lives of about 500 abandoned rabbits each year in San Diego and southwest Riverside counties,” Pierce said.
That’s a lot of bunnies that are living better lives thanks to SDHRS.
Watch the below video of the event, which includes an excerpt of the proclamation and an excerpt from a talk about handling rabbits:
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