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Want to care for a bunny this Easter? Local shelter looking for volunteers while it relocates

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Courtesy Elissa Turpin

IDAHO FALLS – A local animal shelter is rebranding and moving to a new location next month.

Haven Hollow Animal Refuge, formerly known as Remembering Ruby Rabbit Rescue, will move from its current location inside Contractors Village at 1561 West Sunnyside Road in Idaho Falls to 1244 North 900 East in Shelley at the end of April.

Director Elissa Turpin tells EastIdahoNews.com a permanent building is in the works at the Shelley location.

“We have property in Shelley where we will be constructing our new bunny building for the adoptable house rabbits,” Turpin says.

The shelter acquired the new name and became a nonprofit in January. Turpin is hoping it will become a registered 501c3 nonprofit soon.

The current location is a rental, industrial building and Turpin says the move to Shelley has more space that is ideally suited to let animals roam and play.

The nonprofit animal shelter currently takes in stray and abandoned rabbits. There are more than 50 currently living there, but it will soon be housing other animals as well.

Turpin says all the bunnies will be in foster homes until the new building is complete.

“A lot of rabbit rescues throughout the country are actually foster-based, which means (people can sign up take care of them temporarily). It really gives the rabbits a chance to experience life with humans,” Turpin says. “It also helps us learn so much more about the rabbit’s personality and what kind of home would be the best fit for that animal.”

Though it takes time for bunnies to trust their caregivers, Turpin says they enjoy being shown affection once a bond has taken place.

Turpin sees an increase in rabbit adoptions around Easter time every year.

“We get about double the amount of requests this time of year and then in about a month, we get double the amount of surrenders. People realize the animal isn’t as affectionate … as they would like,” she says.

Many people mistakenly think that rabbits are good starter pets, Turpin says, and quickly learn that they are much more complex. Rabbits can develop behavior issues quickly if they’re not housed in a big enough space and Turpin says they can become afraid of you if you handle them too much.

“There are situations where somebody gets two rabbits who didn’t realize what the genders were. They keep multiplying and then you have 70 rabbits that all of a sudden need help. They’re domestic rabbits and so they don’t have the same survival instincts that wild rabbits have,” Turpin says. “We try to help with those situations as much as we can.”

Turpin and her team were called to help with an overabundance of stray rabbits in St. Anthony last summer, a problem she believes was a direct result of someone turning one loose.

RELATED | Stray rabbits roaming around St. Anthony and you’re invited to help catch them

Though stray rabbits are a huge problem in eastern Idaho, Turpin says abandoning them is not a responsible thing for owners to do.

“We highly recommend doing a lot of research before you get rabbits because they’re very misunderstood socially. Once you do the research, you see that they make wonderful companions, they live over 10 years when they are housed indoors. That responsibility is something that should be taken seriously,” she says.

Signing up as a volunteer to foster a rabbit is one way to test out whether it’s something you’re able and committed to do. The shelter provides all the resources and training volunteers need while the rabbits are in their care.

“We socialize our house rabbit residents as much as possible, spay and neuter them, and litter box train them to prepare them for the FURever home,” Turpin says.

Those interested in fostering or adopting can fill out an application on the Haven Hollow website. You can also visit the Facebook page or send an email to info@havenhollow.org.

Courtesy Elissa Turpin
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