I grew up in the fifties in East Tennessee. Back then even
the suburbs of a city like Knoxville were rural areas, and it seems like
rural folks associate holidays with animal abuse in so many different
I remember Easters. I recall the Easter baskets my parents
would prepare with candy and colored eggs and sometimes even live chicks
and ducklings. The chicks and ducks would grow up and lose the blue or
pink food coloring they had been dyed with and we would have to find them
a new home.
There was a duck pond in a park just three blocks from
where I lived. I can remember saying goodbye to a duck who had grown too
large for our backyard. I turned him lose in that pond and cried.
I also remember the fate of some of the chicks. When they
outgrew their chick cuteness (and blue and pink coloring) we gave them to
a lady a few houses away who raised chickens for eggs and food.
One day is clearly imprinted in my mind from when I was
five years old. My grandmother bought one of the chickens from this lady
down the street. I watched as my grandmother held the chicken by it's head
and twirled it around until the head was separated from the body. The body
ran around the backyard for a minute before dropping. Then it was plucked,
cut into pieces, breaded and deep fried. I always have wondered if that
was one of those little blue chicks I had hand-fed corn. Fried chicken
never tasted the same after that.
I remember an Easter where I got a baby rabbit. It had
been dyed pink. Somehow, I don't remember the fate of that rabbit. It
probably wasn't very good. All I remember is that we kept the poor
creature in a small cage in the backyard. That is a terrible way for a
child to learn about animals.
Now is the time to write your local newspapers and ask
people not to give live animals as Easter treats. The practice still
persists, and it must end.
Too many people hold the opinion that rabbits are easy to
take care of and therefore make good pets for children. Unfortunately,
this had led to rabbits being the third most euthanized animals in our
nation's shelters after dogs and cats.
Margo DeMello is the president and executive director of
House Rabbit Society, a nonprofit rabbit rescue organization, based in
Richmond, California. I had the pleasure of meeting Margo at FARM's annual
conference Animal Rights 2003. She will be guest speaker at the Vegetarian
Society of El Paso's Compassionate Thanksgiving dinner next November.
Margo and Susan Davis have written a terrific book which
explores all aspects of rabbits, from their behavior to the way our
society views rabbits. Stories Rabbits Tell is the book to read to gain
understanding about this complex animal.
It explains the history of the rabbit as a domestic pet,
and the efforts by people to eradicate them as pests. There is an
intriguing section on rabbits as cultural icons: their use in commercials,
appearances in children's stories, myth and folklore. We are even given
insight as to how and why Hugh Hefner picked the bunny logo for Playboy.
There are also several chapters that are difficult to read
that deal with the rabbit meat industry, the rabbit fur industry and their
use in vivisection labs. While these topics are disquieting, this is
information we all need to know. Stories Rabbits Tell is a fascinating
book that seems to cover everything about rabbits and the way we treat
For information about House Rabbit Society, visit their
Web site at http://www.rabbit.org/
For more information about Stories Rabbits Tell visit this
Have a happy and compassionate Easter.
Go on to Wild Animals
in Zoos and Sanctuaries?
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