Chicago animal shelter overwhelmed by amount of pet rabbits being abandoned

It's not surprising that many people took in pets during the pandemic, for a little joy and a little comfort.  

But more than a year in, some shelters are reporting many of them are now having a change-of-heart, and it's happening alarmingly often right now.

Not only with cats and dogs, but with rabbits as well.

"I think with rabbits specifically, people impulsively purchase rabbits from a pet store and didn't realize how much work they actually are," said Julie Dorion with the Red Door Animal Shelter.

Dorion says during a typical calendar year, her agency gets some 300 requests to take in rabbits. 

But just since April, she says they've reached that same number, and the pace isn't slowing down.  

"While people do think that they belong in a small cage, they actually do need space to run around," said Dorion. "They're very high-maintenance. They have delicate systems and like any other pet like a cat or a dog, they do need to be spayed or neutered."


Rabbits are the country's third most popular pet behind cats and dogs. 

Dorion and other shelter workers believe for many local rabbit owners, the novelty of owning one may have worn off. 

So what can you do to help?

"If your pet is spayed or neutered, that will help," Dorion said. "If there is a family member that could perhaps take it for just a small amount of time until we have room, that's also a great help."

Another way she says you can help is via donations — either monetary or via their supply wishlist.  

You can do either by visiting the shelter website at