Animal Shelters Warn Parents About Easter Pets

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Many parents will head to the pet store this weekend to get real live bunnies and chicks for their kids' Easter presents. Even though rabbits are big sellers this weekend, it might not be a good idea to get one as an Easter gift.

Several of the animal shelters in this area say they see an increase in the number of bunnies and chicks that are abandoned after Easter. While an Easter pet may sound like a good idea now, they encourage people to really understand what they're getting into before they add a new pet to the family.

Bunnies may be cute and cuddly, but they make pretty high-maintenance pets.

"They certainly need types of things like food, water, exercise, attention," said Julia Palmer, CEO of the Capital Area Humane Society. "They're also very social so they really require a lot of interaction with owners. A lot of people really want to just put them in a cage, but that's not the best thing for them."

Palmer says bunnies aren't the best pets for little kids either. She says people who make an impulse buy at Easter, and don't understand the responsibility that comes with getting a bunny, often abandon it when the holiday is over.

"The most important thing is that you're educated, whether you get a chick or a bunny," Palmer explained. "That's the best thing for the animal. It doesn't really teach kids respect for pets. We don't want kids to learn that it's okay just to buy a pet for an occasion and discard it later."

Palmer says if you do want to get a bunny, just do your research -- and commit to taking care of it for the 5 to 7 years of its life.

"So we encourage people to come into the shelter and learn about an animal before they adopt," Palmer said. "They should avoid those impulses, because it's not the best thing for the animal and it's not the best thing for your family either."

Baby chicks and ducks are also popular pets to buy this time of year, but Palmer says its important to be cautious before buying one. Since chicks and ducks are farm animals, unless you live on a farm or in an area with an urban ordinance, you won't even be able to keep them as pets.

That's why the Capital Area Humane Society and other local animals shelters recommend buying stuffed animals for Easter baskets this weekend. They're still cute and cuddly, but won't require any trips to the vet.

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