Those looking for an alternative to a typical dog or cat pet can find what the pet they’re looking for at River Road Rabbit Rescue.
River Road Rabbit Rescue, 12799 River Road, is a non-profit that rescues and adopts rabbits in Athens County.
The nonprofit rescue has been taking care of rabbits for about three years now, Jazzlyn Boyd, a volunteer at the rescue, said. Boyd started volunteering at River Road after her daughter got a pet rabbit. Boyd didn’t know anything about rabbits at first but soon grew to love the animal.
Most of the rabbits at the rescue are abandoned, Boyd said. Some come from as far as Cincinnati. Sometimes people call and River Road does a search-and-rescue, capturing escaped domestic rabbits.
For Boyd, rabbits aren’t like typical household pets, such as cats and dogs.
“(Rabbits) are very smart, innocent and cute,” Boyd said. “They have different personalities, they’re all over the place.”
Rabbits require gentle touch and special care and they don’t mix well with very young children, according to the Humane Society of the United States. Rabbits can also live up to a decade old, making rabbits long term investments.
Rabbits make good pets for people in smaller living spaces, Suzanne Greif, director of River Road, added. Because the animals are quiet, small and can be litter-trained, they make a good alternative to other household furry friends.
Greif has a love for rabbits and is currently caring for 11 at the rescue, which is located in her home. She mentioned that River Road does outreach and sometimes takes the rabbits into nearby classrooms and nursing homes.
“We go visit the eldery and it brightens up their day,” Greif said. “Sometimes in classrooms we go to help with reading. Sometimes it’s easier (for children) to read with an animal.”
For Boyd, the calming energy rabbits possess is what makes them so great in environments like nursing homes and schools.
“The smile on (elderly) people’s faces makes it all worth it,” Boyd said.
Greif noted that while only certified animals are actual Americans with Disabilities, or ADA, emotional support animals, her rabbits generally make good, soothing furry companions.
“Rabbits do therapeutic work and make good emotional support animals,” Greif said.
The rescue relies on donations and fundraising to stay in business. River Road has organized fundraisers at Athens Uncorked and Little Fish Brewery, but at the moment is short-staffed, Greif said.
To Boyd, she and Greif haven’t had time to do as much fundraising and outreach as they’d like. Right now, the rescue’s focus is on taking care of its resident rabbits.
“We do need volunteers,” Greif said. “When we have enough (volunteers) we do more community outreach.”
Volunteering at the rescue is a volunteer hours opportunity. Volunteers clean cages and litter boxes and help maintain safe living environments for the rabbits. Greif explained volunteering is also a good way to get acquainted with rabbits for those looking to keep them as pets.
Those hoping to get a pet rabbit can foster for River Road as well. There’s an adoption fee and application process, and if fosters don’t quite click with their rabbit, they can try to foster another one.
Lauren Durrance, a new volunteer at the rescue, said she particularly likes one rabbit at the rescue, named Walter White.
“I’m going to wait (to adopt a rabbit but I’ve) been tempted,” Durrance said. “I just love him.”
Durrance started volunteering at the rescue two to three times a week, without any prior exposure to rabbits. She enjoys working in the rescue animal environment.
“I love (the) volunteers I work with, (their) mindset of wanting to spend time with animals,” Durrance said. “Rabbits are dolls, so sweet, (with their) own personalities. They’re awesome, total sweethearts.”