The Colorado House Rabbit Society is licensed by the National House Rabbit Society. We are a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt non-profit organization made up entirely of volunteers. There are no paid positions. Every penny of all donations goes to helping the rabbits. We rescue and rehabilitate homeless, abandoned house rabbits. Affectionate, litter-trained, spayed or neutered rabbits are then available for adoption. We also provide education about rabbits.
We are a No-Kill rescue, meaning that we limit the number of rabbits we take to that for which we can provide good care. We do NOT “warehouse” rabbits. We subscribe to Nathan Winograd’s No-Kill Blueprint for shelters. See www.nathanwinograd.com and www.nokilladvocacycenter.org
Our local organization follows the guidelines and principles (listed below) of the national organization. Questions of interest to local members, specific to how our local chapter operates, are answered here:
QUESTIONS ASKED BY A CO-HRS MEMBER
Q: How is the Colorado House-Rabbit Society (CO-HRS) run?
To answer, we need to explain how the whole HRS organization is run.
National House-Rabbit Society (National HRS)
National HRS is the root of the entire organization. Their Board of Directors establishes philosophy and policies to which all chapters must adhere. National HRS licenses Chapter Managers (CMs), who must first become licensed Educators and Fosterers. Without a Chapter Manager, a chapter does not exist. See National HRS Statement of Purpose
Colorado House-Rabbit Society (CO-HRS) Chapter Managers
The CO-HRS Co-Managers is Nancy LaRoche. As co-manager, she is responsible for ensuring the chapter conforms to National HRS policies and philosophy. CMs make the day-to-day decisions.
CMs may appoint individuals or committees to handle various tasks, but as in a business where people are working under the direction of a supervisor, the CMs are responsible for what those individuals and committees do. They may negate, modify, or approve the directions taken by those individuals and committees.
CMs also work with people who want to create a satellite. Until a satellite becomes a chapter in its own right, the CMs and Board of Directors of the chapter oversee them, although most of the satellite’s work is done independently. When a satellite is ready to become a chapter, oversight is turned over to National HRS.
CO-HRS Board of Directors
CO-HRS has a board of directors currently consisting of Nancy LaRoche, Susan Anderson, and Dr. Bill Guerrera. The Board of Directors sets policy within the chapter, which must be in accordance with National HRS policies. They also discuss issues, plans, problems, concerns, etc.
The Board of Directors elects and dismisses (or accepts resignations) from its directors. Anyone may volunteer to become a member of the Board, but the Board must vote on whether or not to make that person a director. Most of the time, a member of the Board suggests inviting someone to become a director when another director resigns.
Q: Is the board reflective of the membership?
The simplest answer to this is “No, membership is reflective of the Board.” Members are people who adopt from us and those who wish to support what we are doing. Neither the Board nor the Chapter Managers poll the membership in order to reach decisions. On the other hand, the Board and the Chapter Managers are more than willing to listen to thoughts, ideas, complaints, etc., of any member (or even non-member) of the chapter.
Q: How and by whom are decisions made regarding when rabbits are taken in at the facility? If space is available are they taken in, or is consideration given to other resources (money, available volunteer time, Nancy’s time)? Does the Board help make these decisions?
This is the kind of day-to-day decision CMs are responsible for. The board is not involved at this level. CMs also determine who qualifies to adopt, which rabbits may be placed in permanent foster, and, in conjunction with those who run sanctuaries, which rabbits will be transferred to them.
As a matter of policy, CO-HRS typically does not accept rabbits from people who chose to bring a rabbit into their home and then decide not to keep them. We offer help to solve any problems, and we can tell people how to go about finding a good home for the rabbits, but those rabbits are the responsibility of the people who bought them in the first place. Without this policy, we would be bombarded by 30 or more requests to take in rabbits every day! With this policy, we hope to encourage people to be more thoughtful before getting an animal.
On the other hand, if someone is unable to keep their rabbits due to situations which are no fault of their own, (severe chronic illness, homelessness, being overwhelmed in caring for parents with Alzheimer’s, death of the rabbits’ person, etc.), we will take their rabbits if we can.
Three criteria we use for taking rabbits are:
1. Is there space? (This may include emergency foster care, although we are trying to get away from that, because it is hard to work foster rabbits back into the shelter—i.e., the limited space we have is nearly always full, and rabbits with more urgent needs are waiting on the doorstep.)
2. Are there sufficient volunteers to give the rabbits full care? (Note: there are times when we are already full, and lose a number of volunteers all at the same time (moves, transfers to satellites, personal changes in schedules, etc. – that’s when the CM’s may put out a call for help to the membership.) No more rabbits are accepted until there are sufficient volunteers to provide adequately for them.
3. Which rabbits need us most urgently? We have a waiting list of rabbits needing to come to us. This includes:
- rabbits adopted from us and being returned
- rabbits who were found as strays
- injured rabbits
- rabbits in shelters who are on “death row”
- miscellaneous situations
We do our best to take them all, but preference is given to those rabbits most in need.
As for the issue of money, our members and supporters rally to the aid of rabbits who come to us needing significant health care. Because of their generosity in these situations, we have never had to turn away a rabbit needing medical care, nor take money from other funds to provide it.
Q: If we are having trouble with good reliable volunteer cage cleaners, what are some other possible solutions?
It’s been suggested we might need to hire people to clean bunny crates and pens. This could mean finances might have to become part of the decision about taking in an injured or ill rabbit, so we hope we never have to hire cleaners.
Q: Could other people take on some of Nancy’s load (adoptions, work with shelters, teach, public interface)?
From the beginning, other people have assumed and expanded many of the tasks Nancy was once doing, and new volunteers continue to do so at an ever-increasing rate. Besides the feeding and cleaning, volunteers also:
- schedule and train cleaners
- act as liaisons to some of the local animal shelters
- tune-up our shelter rabbits
- direct voice mail to appropriate people
- place and track orders for all of our supplies
- run our gift shop
- maintain our financial records
- transport rabbits to and from veterinary appointments
- write, edit, and produce the newsletter
- maintain our constantly upgraded website
- and on and on and on…
Six people are currently being trained to become Educators. When ready, they will share a variety of duties, further relieving Nancy. Our goal is to see the chapter become fully self-sufficient, depending on no single person.
National House Rabbit Society – Statement of Purpose
The National House Rabbit Society is an all-volunteer, non-profit organization with two primary goals:
- To rescue abandoned rabbits and find permanent home for them
- To educate the public and assist humane societies through publications on rabbit care, phone consultations, and classes upon request.
Since 1988, over 20,000 rabbits have been rescued through our foster homes across the country. The House Rabbit Society has been granted a tax-exempt status under the Internal Revenue code for prevention of cruelty to animals.
- The House Rabbit Society believes ALL rabbits are valuable as individuals, regardless of breed purity, temperament, state of health, or relationship to humans. The welfare of all rabbits is our primary consideration.
- Except for unique situations in which wild animals are being nursed or rehabilitated, it is in the best interest of wild rabbits that human intervention be held to a minimum.
- Domestic rabbits are not the product of natural selection, but rather of human interference by means of breeding programs, resulting in human-dependent animals who need protection. It is therefore a human responsibility for these animals to be cared for in a manner appropriate to their needs.
- It is in the best interest of domestic rabbits to be neutered/spayed, to live in human housing where supervision and protection are provided, and to be treated for illnesses by veterinarians.
- Domestic rabbits are companion animals and should be afforded at least the same individual rights, level of care, and opportunity for longevity as is commonly afforded dogs and cats who live as human companions.
- Rabbits are intelligent, social animals who require mental stimulation, toys, exercise, environment activity, and social interaction from, as appropriate, people, other rabbits, or other animals.
- HRS does not support or align itself with any groups or individuals promoting rabbits as food animals.
- HRS does not support commercial or exploitive interests. Nor do we endorse products. Donations from manufacturers may be gratefully accepted, but no obligation is implied. Objective recommendations of products are occasionally made for health reasons but never in exchange for payment or publicity.
- All HRS publicity is to serve in the best interest of the animals and reinforce the image of rabbits as house pets. Promotion should focus more on the merits of the rabbits than on human personalities.
- HRS is dedicated to prolonging quality life for rabbits. Euthanasia is recommended ONLY when irreversible animal suffering is involved and NEVER for owner convenience.
- Although HRS is involved in rabbit nursing care and health research, all HRS health research is done by compilation of existing data and necropsy results. HRS “experiments” only prescriptively to save sick animals and bring about recovery. No animal is ever sacrificed for any reason!
- HRS Under the terms of our incorporation as a non-profit organization, HRS may not be involved in political activity. HRS members may attempt to influence legislation as individuals, but should not do so in the name of The House Rabbit Society.
- HRS respects the privacy of our members. Our mailing list is not shared with other organizations or commercial interests.
- Primary caregiver: When a rabbit is adopted from HRS, the primary caregiver must be a responsible adult. The rabbit should be treated as an integral part of the family, i.e., no group ownership (such as a classroom pet).
- Indoors: Adopters of HRS rabbits must provide indoor housing for them at night. Indoors is defined as “space in a human house or a building structure with solid walls (not wire mesh) and human-size, walk-through doors of solid material”.
- Wire cages offer no safety against predators. Rabbits die not only by the predator’s jaws or claws, but by their own fright from the proximity of the predators. Common predators include dogs, cats, raccoons, owls, hawks, and large reptiles. These threats can come from the trees, the ground, and even from the air.
- Social requirements: When safe indoor housing is provided which is NOT part of the human adopter’s living quarters (such as a shed, garage, or basement), then adoptions must be in pairs or groups to avoid loneliness, unless the HRS rabbit is being adopted as a companion to a resident rabbit or group of rabbits.
- Neutering: Sexually immature rabbits of mixed sexes can be adopted together as long as the adopter agrees to separate them when the males are 3½ months old and to neuter them as soon as the testicles have descended (usually around 4 months). Males may be returned to female partners two weeks after neuter surgery. Except for medical reasons, females are to be spayed within 30 days of reaching 6 months old.
- Outdoor pens: Adopters who plan to allow their rabbits outdoor DAYTIME exercise mush have secure fencing and provide adequate supervision. Fosterers may require additional safety precautions appropriate to their locale.
- Returns: Adopters who are returning a rabbit must give the fostered at least one week’s advance notice. Some common sense and courtesy is expected. Once an animal is adopted from HRS, the space vacated is usually filled within a week. A return requires two preparations: a space must be opened by a new adoption, and another rabbit must be bumped for the rescue list at the animal shelter.
- Exchanges: HRS does not exchange animals. Exceptions may be made when:a) the fosterer and the adopter are working together on making a match between an adoptee and a pre-residing rabbit AND
b) in the fosterer’s judgement, a different match would be less stressful to the animals
- Adoption fees: HRS adoption fees are donations which cannot be refunded. We are a federally recognized tax-exempt, non-profit organization. Donations made to us are no more refundable than they are to any other public charity.