by Diana Hockley
KRL believes in supporting animal rescue in its many forms in any way that we can. This week we are interviewing Vivian Bana about her rescue All About Rabbits Rescue in New York.
KRL: Rescuing animals is a labor of love and total dedication. What was the catalyst for the creation of the All About Rabbits Rescue and when did it come into being?
Vivian: I felt I could accomplish more, and save more rabbits, than what I was allowed to do while volunteering for another rescue group. I also felt that a rescue cannot be just about rescue and rehab. It must be actively paired with advocacy. By that I mean the cause of the problem must be addressed and actively challenged. I felt squelched and not recognized for my creative talents. Therefore, in 2012, I decided to start my own rescue, and vowed that I would always honor someone’s offer to help rabbits in a way that would bring out their talents.
I wanted AARR to be a place where volunteers could learn all aspects of rescue, be empowered, and work collaboratively so that the responsibility and decision-making would be spread laterally. The purpose of this method of administration is that more rabbits can be helped and saved.
KRL: How did you personally get involved?
Vivian: A rabbit found me in 2007. I was sitting in a park when what was obviously a domestic rabbit approached me. I went from sanctuary to shelter to what various other resources I could find to find him a home. None were the right answer for me, and the search was exhausting. It was easier to simply keep him. After that, one thing led to another; I had to get him a partner bunny. Then I began volunteering with rabbits. Then I started my own rescue. Rabbits are the perfect pet for a vegetarian or vegan.
KRL: What sort of set-up do you have? Is it a private house, a shed, or a purpose-built complex?
Vivian: We have a network of foster homes, plus we house our rabbits at a local pet shop.
KRL: How many can you accommodate, and do you take in any other animals in an emergency? Do you get animals literally dumped on your doorstep?
Vivian: We have taken animals in on an emergency basis. Once we met someone in a parking lot on an hour’s notice to take in a chewed-up rabbit in a bird cage. We were on the scene within minutes for another rabbit that had been abandoned in a park nearby.
We have never had any rabbits left at the doorstep, but once five rabbits were left in a box at the pet shop location and we took them in. We are not at a public location like the New York City Shelter.
KRL: Are you a registered charity for rescue or tax exemption purposes?
KRL: Do the local authorities support you?
Vivian: The “local authorities” are not supporting us although they really should, because we do take a burden off the shoulders of the New York City Shelter. We support the shelter by rescuing rabbits from them and taking financial responsibility for them, especially in cases of medically needy rabbits.
KRL: How does the local community regard your activities and are they supportive in adoption and/or monetary terms?
Vivian: We find that our past adopters and avid rabbit-savvy folks on Petfinder are the supporters of our cause. The local community likes to see rabbits, but they are just observers rather than active or financial participants.
KRL: Do you have many volunteers, and how do you recruit them?
Vivian: We have folks contacting us from Facebook and VolunteerMatch. Our past adopters are the most active in volunteering.
KRL: Rescues depend on donations from the public. Do you charge a small fee for your animals when they are adopted? And do you have PayPal and credit card facilities?
Vivian: We expect our adopters to be very willing to pay an adoption fee in exchange for an already sterilized rabbit, which saves them hundreds of dollars.
And, yes, we have PayPal and credit card facilities. Our Paypal email is: AllAboutRabbitsREscue@gmail[dot}com.
KRL: What are the special challenges to rescuing rabbits? What proportion of rabbits would you estimate to be in your area to other small animals?
Vivian: The challenge to rabbit rescue is having more rabbits than good rabbit-savvy adopters. While we adopt out one or two at an event, a cat adoption event might result in 15 adoptions.
KRL: How many animals have you saved so far and how easy are rabbits to adopt out to responsible people?
Vivian: We have adopted out or been responsible for about 300 rabbits since 2013. However, we have counseled hundreds others that led to rabbit caretakers finding solutions to their rabbit situations.
KRL: That’s great! Have you any fundraising or adoption events coming up, and would you like to give the details? Do you advertise and if so, where?
Vivian: We ran a fundraising campaign on Facebook at the end of 2017 which yielded us $1,000. We conduct adoption events in Queens, NY approximately every three weeks.
KRL: Do local vet surgeries help in any way with discounted or free services?
Vivian: Yes, we are affiliated with two vets who generously provide our rabbits with their rabbit-savvy treatment.
KRL: Does the nearest ASPCA send rabbits to you, and do they help if they can with any animals or equipment?
Vivian: ASPCA New York City headquarters does not send us rabbits. They do not deal in rabbits, but it’s my understanding that they dole out rabbits to other SPCAS not affiliated with them financially when a hoarding case comes up. In fact, it’s my understanding that the ASPCA wanted to have the Gowanus rabbits (a hoarding case involving over 150 rabbits) euthanized, but the New York City judge would not allow this. Dogs and cats are more profitable and create more sensational stories to garner donations.
KRL: Does the local pound get rabbits, and do the people there advise you when they have a rabbit impounded?
Vivian: The ACC used to send rescues a “rabbit alert” when a new rabbit came to the shelter. That has ceased since they revamped their website. We have been waiting months to have this feature back. It is helpful because I can then see that a rabbit made its way safely to the shelter. Often times, we have no choice, but to send people to the shelter, and unfortunately, we do not have the same space, time, and financial resources as the city shelter.
KRL: Have you been involved in any hoarder or big rescues? If so can you tell us about it?
Vivian: AARR was involved with the Gowanus hoarding situation and helped to bring to light the true conditions under which the rabbits were living. AARR along with other rabbit folks were able to pressure the ASPCA to go and retrieve the nearly 200 rabbits from the filthy property in Gowanus, Brooklyn hoarder, Dorota Trec.
KRL: What are your most urgent needs right now and how can people help?
Vivian: The AARR was active in the New York City legislation that bans pet shops from selling rabbits. We believe the most urgent need right now is to set the groundwork for ceasing rabbit sales in other areas such as Long Island. AARR took in 20 stray Long Island rabbits that we had to pay for as opposed to getting already-vetted rabbits from the city shelter. AARR is also fighting against the use of rabbits for decoration fur.
KRL: Is there anything you would like to add?
Vivian: All animals, the voiceless, including rabbits, need to be protected and are not our property to be exploited for any reason whatsoever.
KRL: What is the mission statement for your rescue?
Vivian: Our mission encompasses a few areas. We rescue abandoned and neglected rabbits and place them into loving forever homes in the New York City area. AARR advocates for rabbits by educating potential and current owners on responsible care, preventing rabbit surrenders, and supporting legislation and campaigns that promote rabbit welfare.
KRL: What are your URL, Website and Twitter details? PO Box or street address and local phone number?
Vivian: Facebook: AllAboutRabbitsRescue: www.facebook.com/AllAboutRabbitsRescue
Instagram: AllAboutRabbitsRescue, www.instagram.com/allaboutrabbitsrescue
Twitter: AARabbitsRescue, twitter.com/AARabbitsRescue
Official website: allaboutrabbitsrescue.org
Phone: (347) 993-2300
Headquarters/Admin offices are located in Forest Hills, Queens, NYC 11375
Donation link: PayPal: AllAboutRabbits@gmail[dot]com
You can check out more animal rescue & pet related articles in our Pet Perspective section.