I catch myself saying the sentence, “We can’t save them all” often but I’m realizing as I sit to write this that I need to change up that mindset.
So, from now on I’ll say, “I’m looking for ways to save them all” or “I’m working toward a world where they are all safe.”
For the time being, I’m the one who prioritizes the cases, decides which rescues are the most pressing… and takes the backlash from people who don’t like my decisions. It’s okay. I’m built for this.
Toward the end of March, our Rescue group received an email about an abandoned rabbit in a south shore Nassau County town that is one of the highest dumping grounds for rabbits on Long Island. I was prepared with my standard response of:
We don’t have a shelter facility; all of our rabbits are fostered in private homes. If you or someone you know can provide an indoor, long-term foster home, we can help catch the rabbit, provide supplies and food, and help search for a more permanent placement.
…until I opened the video attachment to this email. I’ll spare you the visual… but it was bad. This rabbit was seriously injured. I knew we needed to rescue her.
She then disappeared for 4 days. The gentleman who spotted her in his yard promised to call me as soon as she showed up again. He did. I told him to keep eyes on her while volunteers headed over. Volunteers were on the scene within 25 minutes. They were able to scoop up this seriously injured rabbit and transport her immediately to a rabbit-savvy veterinary hospital.
Based on the initial video and volunteer reports from the scene, I was sure this rabbit had a broken back. I awaited the call from the vet with the bad news and anticipated having to make the toughest decision… but this story hops in a different direction.
X-rays and tests showed nothing broken. I was shocked. The team was shocked. I kept asking the doctor, “Are you sure we rescued the right rabbit?!? Is that the rabbit from the video?!?” She was terrified and hungry… but not broken. Her body was very wobbly and she couldn’t hop well… but there was far more hope than anyone anticipated. The daughter of the volunteer who rescued this rabbit named her Paisley.
A few days after her rescue, Paisley came to stay with us for a bit. The first few days, she cowered. Her appetite voracious, we kept her pellet bowl full, her litter box overflowing with hay and her salads appropriately plentiful. She started to relax a bit after a few days. We let her out to play and exercise in a puppy pen. She would pensively stretch forward, shake, wobble and fall over. She couldn’t turn to the right. Luckily, we earned her trust, keeping the room quiet and safe, and I was able to massage her hips and back gently, some makeshift rabbit physical therapy.
Fast-forward 16 days… today Paisley can hop without falling over! She can clean her beautiful face with her front paws. We’ve yet to see her run or binky… but it’s coming. Her wobble is all but gone. Her progress is remarkable.
On this day where traditionally (and unfortunately in my opinion!) rabbits are given as gifts for children, I look at Paisley and my heart breaks for the many like her who will be neglected and discarded days or weeks from today. While she’s doing great now, while she’ll be safe and loved forever, there are hundreds on Long Island, thousands (at least) in this country who will suffer… and for what?
I am… we are working toward a world where they are all safe.