The Humane Society of Ventura County and one pet store chain are urging county residents not to buy baby rabbits during the Easter holiday season.
In past years, as many as 20 Easter bunnies have been dumped on the Humane Society animal shelter in Ojai within weeks of the holiday, said Jolene Hoffman, director of the shelter.
"Family members give children these baby bunnies and the parents don't want them," she said. "When the cuteness wears off, when they grow up, they don't want them anymore."
Hoffman said the Humane Society does not allow rabbit adoptions during the Easter season, and discourages purchasing bunnies unless buyers are aware of the responsibilities involved with raising them as pets.
"Do not get your relative or your child a rabbit or a chick or a duck unless you want to take care of it," Hoffman said.
Petco, a national pet store chain that has four stores in Ventura County, has decided not to sell rabbits during this Easter season. Instead, the chain plans to sell paper rabbits for $1. The proceeds will go to a nonprofit rabbit-rescue organization.
"We're taking the rabbits off the floor," said Petco public relations director Bonnie Burn. "We want to discourage impulse buys."
But Don Holloway, owner of the Pet Company in Camarillo, said as long as people know what they're getting into, there's no harm in selling rabbits.
Holloway said his store provides bunny buyers with a five-page comprehensive guide on how to raise a rabbit.
"You just have to really educate people and make sure that's the choice they want to make in the long-term," said Kelly Brown, who works at Pet Company. "We're real careful and talk to people and make sure they know what they're doing."