This post is dedicated to all the animals who have been abandoned and abused.

 In mid-December, we discovered a big, tame  bunny on the property. We immediately guessed he was someone’s pet rabbit who had escaped his hutch. After several phone-calls to the police, the vet, and the local animal control guy, we learned that no one had called about a lost pet rabbit.

Three days after we first spotted him, the Ol’ Man caught him, and the phone-calls started again to find a rabbit rescue.

Of course, once I had a good look at this critter, I announced that I wanted him, and as the Ol’ Man’s kids have pointed out that once there’s animal in the house, he won’t put up an argument about keeping him. And they were right. Now I had a rabbit who was big as Mr. Bessie, and after some research, I learned that we had a Flemish Giant Rabbit.

My only concern was that Mr. Bessie’s hunting instinct would kick in. And so, the now named Lester Cole was housed in a borrowed crate and kept separated from the dogs in the home office.

I kept Mr. Cole company and when I took him out of the crate to explore his sanctioned area, he was wonderful to watch. He didn’t just sit and wiggle his nose. He was curious of his surroundings much like a puppy.

When you have a Jack Russell terrier, you might be lucky if he or  she accepts another dog in the home—and as you already know, this home is Mr. Bessie’s, I’m merely his minion who serves his many needs. Five days after I said I wanted to keep Mr. Cole, I realized that it would be impossible. It was becoming a stressful situation for animals and humans.

So back to making inquiries with the hope of finding a rabbit rescue. After a few emails, we were notified of a Long Island woman who breeds Flemish Giant Rabbits as pets (not for someone’s stew). After a longish conversation with the breeder, I was satisfied that Mr. Cole would go to a safe foster.

A few days after his arrival, I received an email from the breeder asking me how I felt about Mr. Cole going to Queens Zoo where they have an animal education program specifically geared for kids. I loved the idea. Mr. Cole would be with other rabbits, he would have both large indoor and outdoor runs and have the opportunity to be around adults and children who loved animals. A perfect happy ending.

Or so I thought.

Early on, after we made all the inquiries here on the Island, we pretty much determined that Mr. Cole was most likely a young rabbit who was given to a child for Easter. When he became bigger the interest in having a rabbit either waned or entirely disappeared. In other words, instead of finding him a new home, it was easier to dump him in the woods.

I learned yesterday that Mr. Cole had come down with an infection that’s common in wild animals. The doctors at the zoo treated him, he appeared to rally, but in spite of all the care that he received, Mr. Cole didn’t pull through and passed away last week.

I am saddened by the news. I had Mr. Cole for a short time, but I became attached to him. I’m also angry because none of this would have happened if he hadn’t been callously abandoned.

I won’t lie: I like animals more than people. Years ago when I was an employee at a PR agency, I told my supervisor that I couldn’t stay late because I had to go to the vet and visit my little beagle, who had been very ill. She became annoyed and said that my priorities were all wrong. I don’t like confrontation, and normally I would have kept my mouth zipped, but in this case my hackles went up. I simply said that no, my priorities were correct, and that my dog mattered more than her business.

Where’s this leading to? Essentially, I have no patience with people who think they are better than other living creatures. When you tell me that my sadness is exaggerated over “just a dog” or “just a cat” or even “just a rabbit” you’ve become persona non grata. As far as I’m concerned you are “just a human” who takes up way too much space and resources on this planet.

Yeah, those are fighting words, but there’s no defense for cruelty. Dumping Mr. Cole-especially during a holiday season that is about good will and charity—was cruel.

But karma can bite you on the ass. The person who dumped Mr. Cole might find himself in a situation where he’s ignored by his children;  cuckold and divorced; shunned by friends or colleagues because of a misdeed; or even left in a nursing home long forgotten left to rot by his family. But at the end of the day does it really matter? Because, after all, he’s “just a human.”

 Image: Flemish Giant Rabbit resting in his bed. Courtesy of BackYardChickens.com.

18 Comments

      • @RebecaSchiller
         I tend to judge people by how they deal with animals. And so far, this “system” hasn’t failed me yet. I think evaluating a person by how they regard the most vulnerable among is is a very reliable litmus test. Anatole France is the author of my favorite quote on the matter: “Until one has loved an animal, a part of one’s soul remains unawakened.”

        • @rhonda kay For the most part, I agree with that. But I’ve known my share of animal lovers who can be insensitive to others. Although I like animals more than people, I try my very best to be respectful and humane to both species.

        • @RebecaSchiller
           You make an excellent point. I’ve never thought about it from the opposite end this way–that animal lovers can sometimes be insensitive to humans. But you are absolutely correct.

        • @rhonda kay As a very left knee-jerk liberal, I see a lot insensitivity from the left when it comes to respect others who have moderate or even more conservative political or religious notions. We fight for the rights of others, but we tend to pooh-pooh them if someone has a differing view. I have a lot of friends who are no where as left as I am, but does that mean I should look down my pert nose at them? Treat people the way you want to be treated: with kindness and respect.

        • @RebecaSchiller  @rhonda kay Even Hitler had pet dogs. Early in his life someone killed his dog – I need to google the quote – “poor” Adolph was deeply wounded.

        • @RebecaSchiller
           Rebeca, today I brought home a young female Flemish Giant to live with me. While “Zoey” is neither a rescue nor a rehab (which is the way I usually acquire animals,) she is nonetheless here because you shared this story. So I go on record as saying that Zoey was adopted in memory of Mr. Cole.
           
          I discovered in the process of giving Zoey her forever home that Flemish Giants are very, VERY expensive rabbits. A pedigreed Flemish Giant sells anywhere between $150 and $400. I can’t imagine who would just set one free because they didn’t want to care for it anymore, but that’s not to say it didn’t happen. It just makes me wonder even more about the sanity of  folks, you know?

        • @rhonda kay Wow, I wouldn’t believe my post would have that much influence! You know, you can take the FGs on walks, but use a harness, not a collar because one wrong tug or pull can break the neck. Also, you can litter train them. Send me a pic. My email rebecaschiller425@gmail.com. And thank you for remembering Mr. Cole through Zoey.As for your other points, I know what you mean. But go to the animal shelter and you’ll see expensive pedigreed dogs that have been surrendered or dumped. We are a society of throwaways. Don’t like the dress we bought two weeks ago–throw it away. We waste food in a shocking way (this is an ongoing issue at our house because someone makes enough food for a battalion and then refuses to eat leftovers. And so it rots).

  • Bless your heart, Rebecca. Your priorities are Exactly right. Our NikkiCat is the son of a beautiful Russian Grey that someone abandoned. He’s the latest in a string of cats that have found us in one way or another.

  • Hear, hear! My sentiments exactly. Just saw a lovel meme on FB: “there’s a special place in hell for people who abuse animals and small children.” I really hope it’s one so deep and dark that even Dante couldn’t begin to fathom its horrors.

  • “Just a human” – at one time, I’d think that was a radical notion, but the more I’ve seen of human trafficking, child porn, random murders, rapes and on and one, the less respect humans seem to deserve. Well, some humans. But I’ve always thought like the American Indians (Native American) — if people have souls, so do animals.

  • When the pound found the cat Merlin roaming as a stray, he’d already been neutered. People who move often leave pets behind. Possibly Merlin’s owner died, but more likely, someone dumped him. The poor cat STILL has trust issues.