The hay-lined bunny hutches at the Santa Barbara County Animal Shelter aren’t filled with 20 “Thumpers” or an odd number of “Peters.”
Caring volunteers have named each and every homeless or rescued rabbit — Penelope, Justin, Wilbur and the like — in the hopes that their personalities and cute, twitching noses will soon be noticed and that they’ll be adopted by loving families.
Cleaning, feeding, grooming, exercising and loving on bunnies is all in a day’s work for those volunteering with B.U.N.S., which stands for Bunnies Urgently Needing Shelter.
The all-volunteer nonprofit group, which has supported the rabbit cause since 1992, has been forced to put out a call for more volunteers who might be able to regularly spare a couple of hours a week.
The animal shelter at 5473 Overpass Road in Goleta should house 50 rabbits. Right now, it has 76 and counting.
“We really need help,” said Jessie Dove, B.U.N.S. president.
Volunteer Jean Seymour has been nuzzling rabbits at the shelter since B.U.N.S. was founded to give homeless rabbits better care. At that time, the shelter had fewer than a half-dozen bunnies and could function with one volunteer per day.
“I was Sunday,” Seymour told Noozhawk, smiling sheepishly as she admitted she “doesn’t count” how many rabbits she has at her own home anymore.
She did offer how many volunteers the shelter currently has: “Not enough.”
Because it’s a no-kill shelter, bunnies of all types keep coming in, volunteers say. Although an average of eight to 10 are adopted each month, the number arriving depends on a lot more factors.
“We’ve always been prepared,” said Seymour, noting that smaller, emergency cages are being used during this influx.
Six B.U.N.S. volunteers are needed seven days a week to work morning and afternoon shifts, especially on Monday and Friday mornings. The group also does off-site work to raise awareness about the bunnies and for youth education.
Shellye Kingsbury has been volunteering at the shelter twice a week for more than a half-dozen years. She got hooked on the place when she came looking for information on how to take care of a rabbit she acquired.
“I just fell in love with this place,” she said. “Now I’m all-B.U.N.S. all the time. They will bond with you just like dogs and cats.”
All the rabbits are litter-boxed trained and have been spayed or neutered, Kingsbury said.
Rabbits can be adopted after filling out an application for $30, and an adult must accompany applicants under age 18.
Potential volunteers or adopters find out fairly quickly how friendly and relatively quiet rabbits can be, minus the occasional humming or grunting, Seymour said.
Even after years of volunteering, Seymour still can’t pick her favorite bunny.
“The one I’m with,” Seymour said. “When you’re here so much, they all have distinctive personalities.”