FAIRFAX Co. - During the Easter season, local shelters expect the problems start multiplying--- multiplying like bunnies, that is.
"About three weeks after [Easter] the calls start coming," said Viki Rolling, the office administrator at the Humane Society of Fairfax County. "It's always, I have this bunny and now my kid doesn't want it, and we didn't realize how much work it was."
It's a problem for not only Rolling, but for shelters nation-wide: Many bunnies tied up in bows as gifts jump out of the Easter basket, and into the rescue shelter.
In fact, The World Animal Foundation estimates that 80 percent of bunnies in shelters were once given as Easter gifts. The trend is also true for other animals, like chicks or ducks.
"It's not a toy," said Rolling. "Rabbits are living animals."
She also points out that rabbits make terrible starting pets, as they require constant upkeep. Not only do they need to be groomed and played with daily, an owner should also rabbit-proof a home in order to prevent the chewing of wires or electronics and a separate vet to take care of its medical needs.
And to many kids' dismay, rabbits hate to be cuddled or picked up, she said.
It's when this truth sets in, said Rolling, that parents decide to surrender their new pet to a shelter. But while they have been able to deal with this problem during past Easters, it won't be easy this time.
"Right now we are full," she said. "We can't take another one."
Emily Von Klemperer, the director of legal and corporate affairs for the PETA foundation, says the outcome for these bunnies generally isn't good.
"The rabbit ends up in a shelter, or forgotten in a cage or abandoned outside," she said. "Some, may be euthanized."
Instead Von Klemperer says PETA urges parents not to give a rabbit as a gift during the season.
But if a kid still has bunny fever? There's an alternative, says Rolling.
"Get them a stuffed bunny. You won't have to clean it or feed it. Or a chocolate one," she said.