All the 700-odd rabbits cared for by The Responsible Animal Care Society are named and identified, partly to satisfy the requirements of the taxman.
Five years after they were rounded up from Kelowna streets, Starbright, LeBron, Marshmallow, and 700-odd other bunnies are still going strong in specially built sanctuaries.
And they’ll soon be joined by a few new rabbit neighbours.
“I’ve just been out setting some traps in the city works yards where they’ve spotted a few bunnies,” Cyndy Mymka, president of The Responsible Animal Care Society, said Sunday.
“We’ve got to get them soon, because a couple wild rabbits can turn into a couple dozen pretty quickly,” Mymka said.
Kelowna’s ill-fated, city-sponsored effort to deal with an out-of-control wild rabbit problem in 2009 by hiring a contractor to kill the animals sparked considerable public opposition. So the city turned to TRACS instead, paying the group a modest fee from 2010 to 2012 to sterilize any rabbits that members were will willing to round up and care for on an on-going basis.
About 800 bunnies were caught by TRACS volunteers. Since rabbits can live from anywhere from five to 10 years, about 700 of them are still alive in five bunny sanctuaries around Kelowna.
Covering the costs for the rabbits’ feeding, vet bills, and pen maintenance is no small matter for the group, which has only about 15 regularly active members.
“We can have expenses of $5,000 a month,” Mymka said.
A variety of fundraising initiatives are undertaken each year. Currently, the group is promoting its 2015 Rabbits of Kelowna calendar (call 250-763-8214 to order one, or see tracs-bc.ca)
“Donations are always welcome, but we’d really like to also see more volunteers come forward,” Mymka said.
While one bunny may look very like another to the untrained eye, all the rabbits in care of TRACS have their own name and identification tag. That’s both for the maintenance of accurate veterinarian records, but also to satisfy the requirements of TRACS’ status as a registered charity that can issue tax receipts for donations.
“The government could audit us anytime, ask us to prove that we’re really taking care of as many rabbits as we say we are,” Mymka said. “So the bunnies all have to be named.
“We went through basketball players, Disney characters, food items, you name it,” Mymka said with a laugh. “When you’re naming that many creatures, after a while you just grasp at anything.”