BY JULIE GRAY
A few months ago, Marie Kosakowski wanted to find her 4-year-old copper-colored, lionhead rabbit, Oliver, a pal, so she packed him up and took him to the animal shelter run by the City of Bloomington for speed dating. But throwing strange rabbits together can cause sparks to fly—and not in a good way. That’s why Kosakowski took oven mitts for protection—in case she needed to break up any fights.
Oliver, who’d also been adopted from the shelter, first met Bandit, a male rabbit. Though they didn’t fight, the chemistry just wasn’t there. Next, Oliver met a female American rabbit named Hops. That encounter seemed promising. In general, rabbits get along better with a companion of the opposite sex—though, of course, both must be neutered to avoid a population explosion.
Kosakowski and Oliver thought it over and a week later Oliver and Hops went on a second date. “It was really good,” says Kosakowski, 25, which encouraged her to adopt Hops. The two rabbits are taking their time getting to know each other, but the future looks rosy.
Virgil Sauder, the director of the Bloomington Animal Care and Control shelter, located at 3410 S. Walnut, says the future for rabbits as pets looks rosy, too. “People still tend to think cat or dog when they come to the shelter, but rabbits are getting a little more popular,” he says. Last year, nearly 70 rabbits were adopted at the shelter. He believes a lot of people, especially cat lovers, just don’t know they’re rabbit people. “Like cats, rabbits are independent, yet they’re social and interactive,” Sauder explains. “And cleaning a rabbit’s litterbox is a lot more pleasant than cleaning a cat’s.”
Jhondra Funk, a veterinarian at Bloomington Veterinary Hospital who specializes in rabbits, agrees. “Rabbits are a nice middle ground between dogs and cats,” she says. “There’s a lot of joy in seeing a bonded pair interact. Rabbits get the most enjoyment from each other, not humans.”
Sauder encourages visitors to come to the shelter to meet the rabbits, which are currently housed in the lobby. That will change next year, when the shelter opens its expanded and renovated facility. “For the first time,” Sauder says, “there will be a dedicated space for small animals.”