New pantry in Richmond supports Bay Area rabbit owners in need

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New pantry in Richmond supports Bay Area rabbit owners in need
Photo by Ana Nikolayeva.

A new pantry in Richmond is helping to provide essential supplies to Bay Area rabbit owners in need.

In November, the House Rabbit Society (HRS), a nonprofit animal welfare organization headquartered in Richmond, launched the pantry to help rabbit owners facing financial hardship be able to continue to support their pets.

The pantry opens every first Saturday of the month from noon to 3 p.m. at HRS at 148 Broadway in Richmond. Bay Area rabbit owners and those who have found a dumped domestic rabbit and need supplies while rehoming them can benefit from the new pantry. No proof of household income is required.

Essential rabbit supplies are available on a limited first-come, first-served basis, free of charge. Depending on availability, items can include carriers, litter boxes, litter pellets, hay, food pellets, x-pens, and a limited selection of toys, according to HRS.

The program is designed to help families who are facing economic hardship to continue to care for the rabbits they love and prevent rabbits from from the threat of rehoming or abandonment, and to reduce the burden on local shelters, according to HRS.

Since launching, 23 new and returning families have used the pantry, which has helped provide care for 75 rabbits.

Amber Tadena, HSR’s shelter manager, said the pandemic and rising cost of living have made it difficult for many pet owners to provide for their pets, leading to the difficult decision to surrender their rabbits to local shelters.

“When the shelters become full, these same families may turn to abandoning their rabbit outside,” Tadena said.

Tadena says a resource is needed to ensure Bay Area residents can keep and provide for their rabbits, adding that the new pantry “has already become a vital resource to many Bay Area rabbit owners.”

“Our goal is to help reduce the number of rabbits surrendered to shelters by families who need a little extra support,” she said. “No one should have to make the hard choice of either purchasing food for their pet or being able to make their rent/mortgage payments. Our hope is that by alleviating some of the regular costs of rabbit care, we can help keep families together with their rabbits longer and also reduce the strain placed on our local municipal shelters.”

Donors and supporters have been key to keeping the pantry stocked, according to HRS.

  • Here’s how the public can support the HRS rabbit essentials pantry:
    • Donations are welcomed from the HRS Amazon wish list or from the HRS Chewy wish list.
    • HRS accepts donated rabbit food, treat, and litter items in their original, sealed packaging.
    • Also welcome: New or gently used food and water bowls, carriers, and toys. Only items that can be sanitized will be accepted.
    • Donations can be made online at rabbit.org/donate; in the comment box, please specify it’s for the pantry.

Founded in 1988, the HRS is a nonprofit committed to rabbit welfare and education. When the organization opened its headquartered in Richmond in 2000, it marked the first all-rabbit shelter in the nation. Since then, multiple HRS chapters have opened rescue facilities throughout the U.S., rescuing over 43,000 rabbits while reducing the number of unwanted rabbits and improving the lives of rabbits in general.

The organization says it “strives to create a world where all rabbits are given the same respect and care as any other companion animal.” HRS continues to offer community resources for Bay Area Rabbit owners such as a monthly low-cost RHDV2 vaccination clinic and low-cost spay/neuter services (currently on a case-by-case basis). HRS has also launched free weekly Zoom classes on rabbit care open worldwide to anyone considering adopting a rabbit. For more information on the programs and services provided by HRS, visit rabbitcenter.org for details.