While dogs and cats are the most popular pets in the United States, rabbits have a loyal following, too. The House Rabbit Society (HRS) estimates that there are between 3–7 million pet bunnies in the country. If you’ve considered getting one, you might wonder how much they cost at PetSmart.
The short answer is that the retailer does not sell them and hasn’t for years. Pressure from activists and organizations, such as the HRS, pressured the company in 2007 to halt sales. Instead, PetSmart works with rescue organizations and holds adoption events to match prospective pet owners with a rabbit. The rescue group sets their prices for the bunnies and will vary.
However, the story doesn’t end there.
Rabbit Disease Outbreak
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) issued a statement in June 2020 that rabbit hemorrhagic disease (RHD) had been detected three times in the country since 2018 in wild populations. While it is fatal for these animals, it is not transmittable to humans. Nevertheless, PetSmart suspended all adoptions indefinitely.
There are two forms, RHDV1 and RHDV2. The latter can come on suddenly and kill infected rabbits within hours of the first symptoms. The mortality rate is up to 90%. There is no FDA-approved vaccine available in the United States.
RHD originated in China and has rapidly spread throughout the world. Scientists first detected ii in this country in 2000. It spreads quickly among these animals. The disease decimated the Australian population in 1995, killing 10 million rabbits. PetSmart’s decision to halt rabbit adoptions was a wise corporate decision considering these facts.
Rabbit Disease Prevention
Without a vaccine, the only course of action is best practices for sanitation, something that we all know from the pandemic. Make sure you wash your hands thoroughly after touching your rabbit or cleaning its cage. It’s also imperative to monitor your pet and avoid introducing new animals into your home without a quarantine period.
Getting a Rabbit From Someplace Else
If your heart is set on getting a rabbit, you can still find a pet available through rescue groups. The HRS maintains a list of both independent and HRS allies. It’s essential to understand what having a bunny in your home entails. Remember that rescue organizations exist for a reason.
Rabbits need and want attention. If you’re going to get one, make sure that you have enough time to devote to your new pet. These animals can get along with your cat or dog if you socialize them at a young age. You can even litter-box train a rabbit. You’ll find that these pets are quite friendly. You may even consider getting your bunny a mate if you have the space.
Perhaps the most important thing to understand upfront is that you must bunny-proof the areas of your home where you’ll let your pet loose. These animals will chew whatever they can find, whether it’s your sofa or the dining room table legs. That’s why it’s essential to offer your rabbit safe things to chew to prevent issues.
Like many pet retailers, PetSmart has moved away from selling live animals in its stores. It’s not surprising given the changing public opinions about these matters. However, if you want a rabbit, you’ll find plenty of rescue groups that can match you with the right pet. After all, these animals need a forever home the most.
Featured Image Credit: Inna Reznik, Shutterstock