A Denton County rabbit expert is warning would-be bunny owners to avoid buying rabbits as Easter gifts.
Diana Leggett, founder of WildRescue Inc./Rabbit Rescue, said a lot of people buy bunnies as a cute holiday gift but quickly end up regretting it when they discover the responsibility that comes with owning one.
"Come June and July, when the bunnies that are bought at this point in time come into maturity, that's when their behavioral issues pop out," she said.
Like dogs and cats, the issues are a result of puberty, Leggett said. But unlike those popular pets, rabbits tend to be expensive to spay and neuter.
As a result, many owners simply abandon the rabbits -- sometimes at a rescue, but more often just along the side of the road or in the woods.
Leggett said there is some improvement this year as some major home-and-garden stores have stopped selling bunnies but there is still a long way to go.
"When it comes to the bunnies, we're still not there. We still have a long road to travel,” she said, adding that rabbits are still used as food and even hunting bait.
WildRescue, one of the handful of rabbit rescues in the state, will take in as many bunnies as it can. But it runs off donations and only has so much space.
The best way to help is just to think twice before buying, Leggett said.
"These guys are just nothing but cuteness ... but they're a 10-year commitment and it's something you should research and look into with your family before you even consider getting one of these guys," she said. "Don't buy a bunny, but adopt one after Easter and, in the meantime, go get a chocolate bunny for your child."
Leggett said she first brought WildRescue to Denton about five years ago because the city was willing to let her run it through her home.
She operates with a volunteer staff, including veterinarians.
As of Thursday, the rescue had more than 100 rabbits. Leggett expects the number to increase in the coming months.