The decision to adopt an animal from an animal shelter or rescue is not only a brave decision, but an incredibly important one. Every day, thousands of animals die in shelters, due to continuous, unnecessary (over-) breeding. By adopting from a shelter or rescue, people are literally saving lives.
Those who choose this option, to save the life of an animal, are my people, and this column aims to celebrate them and their furry friends by telling their stories.
Brittany Moroz, 28, shares her home with two beautiful, cage-free bunnies: a three-and-a-half-year-old male lop named El Senor Hops, and a three-and-a-half-year-old female lionhead named Oprah Winfrey. I recently visited Brittany and her bunnies to find out what life is like for her with her bunnies and why she thinks it’s important to rescue an animal.
So, why bunnies?
I had a bunny growing up and my dad absolutely just adored it. He loved that rabbit so much, and then Beatrice, that was her name, died. So, Mike and I actually bought Senor as a gift for my dad, because my dad is really good at caring for rabbits. But it turned out that it was too soon for him and he didn’t want it. I didn’t have the heart to take him back, so we kept him and loved him.
Can you tell me about where you got Senor?
We went to a local shelter but they didn’t have rabbits and the humane society doesn’t adopt animals for gifts and I didn’t want to lie, so we just went to Petland. He was so small and cute and they picked him up and his little grey paws were there and I was like okay, I love you.
When you bought him, how much did you know about caring for rabbits at that point?
Because we’d had Beatrice, I knew that they were a huge responsibility.
Has Senor always been a cage-free bunny?
For the most part, yes. We just recently moved into this condo but before that he usually got a massive amount of free time to run around. We’d only lock him up when we were sleeping or if we had gone out, but the moment we got home, he was allowed out all of the time. After we got him fixed, we moved his cage into our bedroom, and after that point, he was always allowed out. We’d just close the bedroom door if we left.
Tell me a little bit about Oprah Winfrey.
I volunteer with Big Brothers Big Sisters and I took my kid out to The Winnipeg Humane Society and I just felt really kind of like I had wanted another bunny. A year or so after I got Senor, I began researching rabbits a little more and I became more aware of what animals go through and had more empathy and compassion for them. I stopped using products that have been tested on animals. That was my first step of embodying a cruelty-free life. And then I went vegetarian and am currently trying to go vegan. And with all of that research, I really began to understand the importance of rescuing and doing what you can if you have the time and patience, you should do a rescue. So, we were at the humane society and she was there and I just felt so bad for her because she had been there a few times already, having been returned twice. She was just sitting there kind of rotting away, and so I thought I would give it try.
What was the bonding process between the two of them like?
For him it was really good. We kept them separate for the first little while. Or we tried to. We kept him in the bedroom and her in the living room because we wanted her to get his scent so she knew that she was going into another bunny’s house. But he knew something was going on and then I opened the door one day and he ran out. I grabbed him and picked him up and he very nearly jumped out of my arms when he saw her. He was very determined. It took them about a week to bond. I had done a lot of research on the House Rabbit Society, so I tried to follow all of their guidelines, but he wrecked it. He has no boundaries when he wants something.
What do your friends and family think about you having bunnies?
They love them. My parents watch them when we go away. My parents did remind us at first of how much rabbits chew and how much you have to watch them, but it’s still worth it. Our friends at first were like “Oh really, bunnies?” But then they came over and met him and fell in love with him. When we have guests over, he’ll jump all over everyone on the couch and be super social and so now people love bunnies.
What are some of the unique challenges you find with having bunnies?
Probably keeping them occupied so they don’t eat my stuff. Even if they have stuff to do, they will still eat my stuff, so really just the constant supervision and ensuring the doors are closed. Senor currently has a “project” going on with our bedpost.
Can you tell me about your journey with animal advocacy?
I am a conflict resolution and human rights student at the U of W and thankfully I have the opportunity to do a massive amount of presentations and a lot of different papers. Any time I do a paper or presentation, I always do animal rights and the importance of using cruelty free products. I do everything that I can in that aspect to try make people aware that our human vanity doesn’t mean that we should be using and supporting these products that are testing on these animals. I really try and do a good job of conveying that there are other options that work. I think people are just generally unaware and also sometimes it’s just ignorance and turning a blind eye.
How do people generally respond?
The last presentation I did was in my non-violent social change class and one girl left crying. I was really stern about it and was just like stop using these products. If you’re doing this and buying these products, you’re a major contributor to suffering. We have to show these companies that we don’t want their products if they test on animals. I get positive reactions, I get negative reactions, I get the ‘it’s just an animal’ but I live by the philosophy that we don’t have a right to dictate who dies for what.
You mentioned that you volunteer with kids and that you try and teach them about animals. What specifically do you try and teach them?
Just that animals are equals and not to hurt animals or see them as less. I try to reinforce that if you are going to get an animal, try to adopt one.
How do they usually take it?
She usually gets really into it. She asks a lot of questions. She loves coming here to visit the bunnies. I took her to Petland on Regent once because we were in the other end of the city and didn’t have time to get to the humane society, and there was this black rabbit and he was like dead, or very close to it, and covered in poo and lying there and barely breathing. I told the manager that this is unacceptable, and you need to do something. He said it was fine and the rabbit is okay. I tried to explain that there are children in the store seeing this, and so he eventually picked the rabbit up and took it away. I called the head office about it and no one ever called me back.
If you knew someone who was considering adopting an animal, what advice would you give them?
By doing a rescue, you’re saving a life. You’re giving a bunny a chance for a fresh start and a new chance at life. When you’re rescuing, you’re usually supporting a smaller shelter or rescue, too, rather than a pet store. And it makes you feel good as a person, knowing that you’re doing what you can to give back. It’s just really important to give them that second chance, because what else is going to happen to him if you don’t?
Cindy lives, works and helps animals in Winnipeg, Manitoba. Follow her on Instagram @cindytitus
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