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Christmas Cotton-Tails crisis

HRSS Special Appeal
01 Dec 2008 - by Daphne

In a breaking effort to save 14 rabbits from being euthanized, HRSS is currently facing a desperate crisis going into Christmas, with over 60 rabbits in total under our foster care.

As HRSS does not have a shelter and rely primarily on foster homes to help give all rescue rabbits a loving environment to recuperate and a safe haven to call home, our 14 "Christmas Cotton-tails" have temporarily found solace at a boarding facility for the moment. They have since been receiving lots of TLC and relaxing grooming and massages from HRSS volunteers after their bewildering ordeal.

Shortly within a day after their relocation, one of the rescue rabbits has become a new mum, after giving birth to 5 little kits in the safety and comfort of the new home. The number has now escalated to 19.

Unfortunately this means mounting costs incurred on a monthly basis (which exclude veterinary care and sterilization costs) to support the care of these 19 Christmas Cotton-tails, such as boarding at $700 a month and food supplies at $300 a month.

As one of the most common animals surrendered to shelters, it is not hard to see why. Nature created rabbits as prey and in order to keep their species alive in the face of high predation in the wild, rabbits keep producing litter after litter, with a gestation period of just one month. A single female rabbit can have 1 to 14 babies per litter, and after she has given birth, with the presence of a buck, she can and most likely will become pregnant within 24 hours of giving birth.

Owners face the problem of finding loving and good homes for the litters that are born, as it is very probable they will not be able to care for these new rabbits for the next 8 to 10 years, plus the original rabbits they already own. In their owners' desperation, these rabbits are given up to shelters or abandoned.

In addition, unwanted rabbits are often abandoned in fields, car parks, void decks or even shoved into the rubbish chute in plastic bags to fend for themselves; where they suffer from starvation, sickness, and are easy prey to other animals or traffic accidents. Our 14 Christmas Cotton-tails were left to fend for themselves outside the home of a rabbit owner who fortunately took them in out of love; her home becoming a convenient guilt-free dumping ground for their previous owners who no longer want them. For every rabbit that is born either by mistake or through planning, a rabbit at an animal shelter will die, because the baby rabbits that are brought into the world will take a home away from a rabbit at the shelter. One should not consider breeding pets just for "fun" or "education". There are certainly enough rabbits in the world and too many are neglected or abandoned.

These unsterilized 14 rabbits are the results of uncontrolled breeding and they are truly the lucky ones HRSS managed to save. Every new stray or abandoned pet puts pressure on the limited space shelters have. The harsh reality is only about 2 out of every 10 animals in shelters have the chance of finding good homes. The rest of the animals, sadly, are put to sleep.

With Chinese New Year just around the corner, a time when many pets also face spring-cleaning style abandonment by owners who grew tired or can't cope with their growing numbers, these rabbits will join many more unwanted pets facing despairing prospects, as finding a new home for them become a slow process. HRSS has also received two more urgent calls for assistance, 17 rabbits and another 12 rabbits respectively which the Society has to attend to immediately, despite limited resources and the lack of new foster homes. We have also encountered a new rescue case of an abandoned rabbit who has a large abscess on its left foot that will require urgent and immediate medical attention.

Find out how you can help to make it a jolly Christmas for our Christmas Cotton-tails.


26th Nov 2008, Wednesday - HRSS volunteers headed to AVA to re-locate the 14 Cotton-Tails to their new temporary home at a shelter. New play-pens were quickly set up and the rabbits now have a huge area to roam about safely. The females and the males were separated into 2 play-pen areas. The rabbits were all given a meticulous check-up by the volunteers and their nails clipped and trimmed. One of the female rabbits is found to have splayed legs but she is coping well and doesn't appear to be hindered in mobility.

We were glad to see that they took to hay eagerly and munched happily on fresh veggies and pellets without any hesitation. A hungry rabbit is a healthy rabbit!

Amy Woo, Francine, Jacelyn, Huishan and Rose & Jimmy are taking turns at making daily trips to the shelter to ensure the Cotton-Tails are faring well and fed regularly.

6th Dec 2008, Saturday - HRSS volunteers went down to the temporary shelter to help groom the rabbits and attend to sore hocks which some of the rabbits are suffering from. 3 rabbits will need to see a vet for cases of scabies and one case of abscess on the foot. A veterinary appointment is scheduled for this week.

Mummy rabbit and her 5 healthy kits have been re-located to a foster home for the time being for their safety. As she is a young mother, she may not be producing enough milk to sustain all her kits. They are all being closely monitored round the clock and the mother rabbit has been receiving assistance when it comes to feeding times, twice a day.

11th Dec 2008, Thursday - Tinsel, the latest arrival to the shelter has a severe abscess that is causing her foot to swell. Francine brought Tinsel, Casper and Claus to the vet for treatment.The scabies are now under control in Casper & Claus and fur mites eliminated.

Baytril and pain relief were prescribed for Tinsel. She will have to have the abscess drained of pus and liquid under GA soon. This is worrying as Tinsel's appetite has not been very good.

14th Dec 2008, Sunday - We bring good tidings! While it rained down on our poor wet volunteers at the fund-raising event we had @ East Coast, 4 of our female rabbits have found their way into a comfy new foster home today. Hurray!

Mummy bun Carole and her 5 little ones are doing well in foster care. The kits opened their eyes 4 days ago and have been inquisitive about their new surroundings. Carole has an immense healthy appetite and is always hungry for more hay.

27th December 2008, Saturday - Our baby rabbits Rudolph, Prancer, Misty, Big Bear and Blitzen turned 1 month old today. They are driving their foster parents nuts by constantly playing hide-and-seek, squeezing under the play-pen for a good run around when no one's looking.

Carole is putting on weight consistently and the ribs that used to stick out painfully on her sides are fast disappearing.

One thing the kits have learned from mama-bun is how to pull the saddest bunny face, begging on their hindeys for treats and food, even after they've just been fed, so you'll find it very hard to say no. It's hilarious to see 6 eager faces staring at you, all on their hind legs, their long ears sticking right up in anticipation of goodies to come.

The babies have inherited Carole's unusually long ears. 3 of them resemble her, each with a white dot on their noses, while 2 of them are grey like their father Claus.

29th December 2008, Monday - Tinsel is ''finally'' home after a long day at the vet's clinic. She was there from 11am untill 9pm. Tinsel has been taken into home foster care because of her special condition.

The following is an excerpt of her diagnosis:

"History: presented with swelling to the left fore paw - abscessation - severe - extending to the lateral, ventral and also dorsal of the metacarpal joint. Left eye is normal. Needs regular cleaning.

Examination: swelling of abscess is severe. Lanced abscess - copious amount of pus is cleaned out. 3 incision cuts were made - on the right and left side and also on the top portion on the metacarpal (wrist).

Assessment: Flush H202 into the wound to clear the pus.

Plan: Please clean the wound and flush it out thoroughly once daily and then bandage. Please note that some abscessation are very serious and will require aggressive treatments like daily injections or even surgical amputation of the paw. Review for the paw is needed in 1 week's time."

The conclusion does not look very positive and we are all very worried. Tinsel will be under her foster mum Francine's watchful care until the next follow-up appointment.

3rd Jan 2009, Saturday - Tinsel's abscess took a turn for the worst. Foster mum Francine came home in the evening and saw that she was bleeding and upon removing her bandage, noted that the skin on her leg was an abnormal and angry dark red. She did not even move one bit as the bandage was removed. Francine cleaned the wound and re-bandaged Tinsel's foot, without her flinching. Fearing Tinsel may have lost all sensation in the abscessed foot, a call was made to the vet and it was decided she had to be hospitalized for monitoring.

The vet gave a bad prognosis. Tinsel will be receiving aggressive treatment with injections from tonight until Monday to see if it will help with the blood flow. Presently, the dead skin tissue around the wound is causing the purple discolouring in her leg. The joints of the leg are not stable as well.

The next step to take unfortunately would be amputating the left leg. The abscess may be a result of a small bite wound or even other infection.

Poor little Tinsel, let's hope for the best for her and that she will be on a road to full recovery really soon.

5th Jan 2009, Monday - HRSS face the grim prospect of either putting Tinsel to sleep as she may not have the quality of life of a normal rabbit, or having her foot amputated. Typically, rabbits don't do well with only 3 legs as they would have to use an elbow instead to move about and that usually results in infection.

The conclusion from the vet: Tinsel's leg is not improving and hence I recommend amputation to prevent ascending infection to the elbow / shoulder.

The risk of the surgery is high, however, it is the best chance for her to have a healthy life. I have seen rabbits fare well as amputees. Just that they may need more care and monitoring. Preferably, Tinsel should be housed alone during her recovery. And she can bond with other rabbits only if the other rabbits are gentle and not too large in size.

The surgery is scheduled on Wednesday.

After much thought and serious pondering, it is decided as a team that she will undergo the operation to remove her badly infected foot.

We hope this operation will help her end the suffering that she has to endure for so long with the bad abscess. We also considered the potential inconvenience and pain she might have to live with after the amputation but as our calendar theme for this year strongly support, all rabbits deserve a second chance at life.

It's not our intentions to rescue her in the beginning only to "kill" her at the end, without exhausting all means of helping her lead a comfortable and fulfilling life. If Tinsel really can't cope well after the operation and decides to leave all of us, then at the very least it will be a choice of her own and we have given it all the best shot and the best chance she had.

7th Jan 2009, Wednesday - Francine visited Tinsel last night at the vet's where she's still hospitalized. Tinsel has been doing well after her surgery. Eating well and poo is as per normal.

Tinsel would only eat her veggies when Francine hand fed her and she ate quite a bit. She even flopped down happily. She appeared to be coping pretty well with 3 legs, seemingly "free". She also eagerly gobbled up cranberries Francine fed.

The nurse said it will take 10 - 14 days before stitches may be removed and Tinsel discharged. We will be updated on this shortly.

To adopt these lovely rabbits, please email us.


HRSS to the rescue!

New set-ups

The girls

The boys

Settling in - lunch time!

Lazing about after exploring their surroundings

Happy volunteers watch on

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