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This article was published 8/6/2017 (1081 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Some bunny needs a new home.
So Cindy and Jeff Hildebrand hopped to it.
The couple has officially opened the Popcorns and Binkies Rescue Haven, a non-profit rescue for domestic rabbits and guinea pigs.
"We’re a foster-based rescue, not a shelter," Cindy said, referring to the foster-home practice of having carefully screened individuals or families care for animals in their own homes while they wait to be adopted into their "fur-ever" home.
Cindy, 34, said she and Jeff, 48, discovered the need for such a rescue while they were volunteers with Jenn’s Furry Friends Rescue. They were surprised by the number of surrendered, abandoned or rescued rabbits and guinea pigs coming into the facility.
"We were getting about two or three a week, sometimes more at certain times of the year," she said.
The Winnipeg Humane Society was the only other organization taking in surrendered, abandoned or rescued rabbits and guinea pigs — until now.
"There’s just such a great need for a rescue like this and for education and understanding of the responsibilities in taking care of these little guys. It’s a lot more work than you think," Cindy said, noting her rescue already has a bonded pair of rabbits, Walter and Olivia, in permanent care with them and two others, Strawberry and Maple, already in a foster home waiting to be adopted.
She said Popcorns and Binkies is partnering with Jenn’s, and hopefully the humane society, to rescue rabbits and guinea pigs.
The humane society’s Aileen White said there were 867 "other" animals brought into the humane society in 2016, which includes rabbits, guinea pigs, birds, rats, hamsters and chinchillas. While the society doesn’t record critters outside of dogs and cats, White said rabbits are prevalent in the "other" category.
Popcorns and Binkies is also already fostering guinea pigs Coffee Bean and Albi. The couple also has a menagerie of owned pets that includes rabbits Honeysuckle and Howie, guinea pigs Wilson and Kale, a cocker spaniel dog named Serena, a blind Chihuahua named Aaron and four cats.
Most people don’t know enough about caring for a rabbit or guinea pig before they buy them as pets. Cindy said rabbits and guinea pigs need to eat fresh vegetables every day and they need exercise. There are serious health and social repercussions if they are confined to a cage. Rabbits need to be spayed or neutered.
A little-known fact is that rabbits usually don’t want to be cuddle bunnies. In fact, a pet rabbit might show its affection for its owner simply by remaining nearby. Domestic rabbits can live eight to 10 years while guinea pigs can live for four to seven years and do better in pairs.
Cindy said when people find out how much care the animals need, the novelty wears off and people lose interest.
"When some people decide they don’t want their rabbits anymore, they will surrender them but in some really unfortunate cases, they’ll just let them loose outside. Domestic rabbits probably won’t survive more than a couple of days outside. It’s very dangerous for them," she said.
She and Jeff fell in love with guinea pigs about a year ago. They adopted Reggie, a guinea pig surrendered to Jenn’s who had a hole in his chin from an untreated abscess. While receiving vet care, he became quite a star at adoption fairs to raise money for Jenn’s. He recently had to be euthanized when the infection spread.
"He was so tame and relaxed and, despite all his problems, such a happy little pig," Cindy said. "That was another reason we wanted to have this rescue, because I just love guinea pigs."
Cindy said they are suddenly looking for a veterinarian to partner with Popcorns and Binkies because the vet they had been working with has decided to downsize.
"We also need foster homes. We can fundraise to buy supplies but what we really need are people," she said. "It’s a brand-new adventure but we just want to rescue as many of these little guys as we can. Many of them we have to rehabilitate. They’ll come to us with behavioural problems because they’ve been in situations where they were locked up, alone, never played with, so we have to show them they can trust humans and find them homes. It’s very rewarding."
The unusual name of their rescue uses words that describe physical actions by rabbits and guinea pigs that owners interpret as joy.
"Binkies are what rabbits do when they’re happy. They jump and kind of kick in the air. When guinea pigs do that, it’s called a popcorn," Cindy said. "It’s what they do when they’re happy and we’re hoping that we can make as many guinea pigs and rabbits happy as we can."
To assist the rescue or to apply to be a foster, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Updated on Friday, June 9, 2017 at 7:18 AM CDT: Adds email address