Archive for July, 2016

AMONG THE ANIMALS: Hoppy Hour

Lucy hoppy hour asking to be picked up

Rebecca Wells with her brown bunny Lucy and brown-and-white bunny Nanna, during Hoppy Hour at K9 Fun Zone

by Christie Lagally

Originally published in City Living Seattle

August 2015

(c) Pacific Publishing Company

Some 15 rabbit owners were undeterred by the July heat and made their way to the Seattle Rabbit Agility Club meet-up known as Hoppy Hour. This event is hosted at the K9 Fun Zone (25 Nickerson St.) in Queen Anne and provides the opportunity for bunnies to socialize and try out a rabbit agility course, an event I had to see for myself.

Rebecca Wells started the club (www.facebook.com/seattle.rabbit.agility) when she saw a need for bunnies and owners to connect, as well as to bring awareness to issues such as bunny adoption, spay/neuter and responsible care.

Rabbit agility consists of training rabbits to move through an agility course, an activity popular in Northern Europe. In Seattle, Wells and her club combine a course for agility with free-form playtime for the rabbits to jump over toys, hide in boxes, scurry through fabric tunnels and play with Wiffle balls spread around the room.

“Hoppy Hour gives rabbits a chance to be a rabbit,” Wells said.

And for such seemingly quiet creatures, most of the bunnies were gleefully running across the room to sniff friends, old and new.

A bunny social

Smokey obstacles action

Rebecca Wells with her brown bunny Lucy and brown-and-white bunny Nanna, during Hoppy Hour at K9 Fun Zone

Michael and Premi Haynes brought their rabbit, Major Leven, to Hoppy Hour. As the only bunny in their family, the Major needs time with other bunnies.
“They have personalities like both a dog and a cat,” said the couple, explaining that rabbits lick you like dogs but are independent like cats.
AJ Jain brought his two bunnies, Coco and Nana, to Hoppy Hour, and the pair quickly engaged in the fun. Jain has done some training with his rabbits, and he speaks to Nana in Hindi and Coco in English.

Nana and Coco are a bonded pair who were microchipped and fixed prior to Jain adopting them. Jain said he did a lot of research about bunnies before he adopted the two mini-Rex breed rabbits in 2013 from the Seattle Animal Shelter.

Natalie Scantlen brought a brood of bunnies, including Teton and Tatoosh, two gray bunnies enjoying a rug together at Hoppy Hour. Scantlen grew up with rabbits that were left outside in the cold.

“It could have been different,” said Scantlen, who now ensures that her bunnies live indoors with a watchful eye over their health-care needs. Along with her two other bunnies, Elwha and Ziggy, Scantlen houses her bunnies in pairs, so they always have companionship.

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Bunny at Hoppy Hour

Nora Chen brought her rabbit, adeptly named Bunny, to socialize with other rabbits, as well. Two years ago, Chen and her husband literally found Bunny on the street and fell in love with her sweet nature.

“She really brings a lot of joy into our lives,” Chen said, adding that Hoppy Hour is a chance to find some other rabbit friends.

K9 Fun Zone owner Lindy Langum said she always intended for her business to be open to many species to play. Usually, Langum rents her facility for individual dogs to play out of the Seattle rain, but once a month she hosts Hoppy Hour.

Lauren Lancaster, whose bunnies BunBun and Blue were chilling during Hoppy Hour, shared her story of volunteering with an animal rescue group while in high school, where she learned it was better to adopt a pet than to buy one.

Later, she got more involved in rescue when she learned about a bunny living in a University of Washington frat house. The poor bunny had three legs and an eye infection, and Lancaster pursued the owner to surrender the animal and finally got the bunny to safety.

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Rebecca Wells with her brown bunny Lucy and brown-and-white bunny Nanna, during Hoppy Hour at K9 Fun Zone

‘Bun-bassadors’

Although rabbits are the third-most-popular pet, Wells emphasizes that education about rabbit ownership is lacking, and the club helps spread the word. She said that some people think of bunnies as “livestock,” which are often neglected in hutches outdoors where they suffer from the elements and heartbreaking loneliness.

Bunnies are social creatures, live eight to 12 years and need a healthy diet of Timothy hay, plenty of room to exercise and companionship.
Also, rabbits should be spayed/neutered to prevent hormonal behaviors and a high incidence of uterine cancer in females, and veterinarians who have special training should treat them.

Lancaster and Wells also foster rabbits from Special Bunny, a Seattle-based adoption, rescue and sanctuary organization. With so many bunnies in need of adoption, fostering a rabbit makes it possible to help the overwhelming number of bunnies that need rescue, said Tamara Adlin of Special Bunny.

Adlin explains that anyone can foster a bunny if they educate themselves on rabbit care, and her group will support their effort with some supplies. Fostering is a good opportunity to see if a rabbit is a good pet for you.

Additionally, Adlin asked that we all be “bun-bassadors” by quickly learning about bunnies from the Special Bunny website (www.specialbunny.org) and then speak up if we ever see a solitary bunny, a rabbit in an outdoor cage or one hidden in a basement. Even bunny-less people can easily become advocates for bunnies who are in lonely, unhealthy or unsafe situations.

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AMONG THE ANIMALS: Tips for humane living

Sandy Smith at Pasados visitsing Splash the pig

Sandy Smith at Pasado’s Sanctury visiting with Splash the pig. Courtesy of Sandy Smith.

by Christie Lagally

Originally published in City Living Seattle

July 2015

(c) Pacific Publishing Company

With a 40-plus-hours-a-week job and volunteer commitments, like many Seattleites, my time is extremely limited. For some people, trying to live more humanely and reduce our impact on animals and the environment might seem daunting. But it turns out that helping animals through our daily choices can be the easiest thing we do every day.

The emotional pain that many of us feel when we learn about homeless, neglected or abused animals can weigh on us even when we try to ignore it. Luckily, the best way to relieve this emotional stress is to start making choices that ensure we are not contributing to the problem and we are supporting the solutions. Amazingly, that is a whole lot easier than you might think, and it takes little or no time.

No animal testing

One of the easiest ways to help animals is to buy products not tested on animals, which reduces the number of animals used in cruel, unnecessary lab experiments.

“Neither the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) nor the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission requires animal testing for cosmetics or household products. There [is] sufficient existing safety data, as well as in vitro alternatives, which make animal testing for these products obsolete. Rabbits, mice and guinea pigs needn’t suffer in the name of beauty,” explained Kim Paschen, manager of the Leaping Bunny Program, a nonprofit group that certifies products as not tested on animals.

As part of your regular shopping routine, check the labels of your deodorant, shampoo, dish soap, toilet bowl cleaners and more for the Leaping Bunny label and simply choose to buy products that are cruelty-free. You can also download the “Cruelty-Free” app from iTunes or Google Play to scan a product bar code to check if Leaping Bunny has deemed the product cruelty-free, even if it doesn’t have the Leaping Bunny label.

With limited time during the week, I rarely make it to my computer to check email. But with just my phone and a little time on the bus, The Humane League (THL, thehumaneleague.org/militia) has made it possible to help change the world for animals. With its One-Minute Militia program, THL sends you an email with an easy action, such as “sign this petition to end battery cages for egg laying hens.”

“The Humane League started the One-Minute Militia to give animal lovers easy ways to help animals by assisting our national campaigns team,” said Heather Bolint, director of THL’s Seattle office. “It is important that corporations hear the voices of their concerned consumers, and by organizing efforts like group Facebook posts, they can do just that.”

Sandy at Pasados

Sandy Smith at Pasado’s Sanctury visiting with Splash the pig. Courtesy of Sandy Smith.

Spend time with animals

In my leisure time, I love to spend time with animals. But we must be careful to avoid supporting animal cruelty by not patronizing roadside zoos, wildlife parks or circuses. These fly-by-night entertainment methods are horrendously inhumane.

The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) states that it is “opposed to the cruelty that is inherent in using either wild animals or livestock in unaccredited zoos, roadside menageries, petting zoos, game farms and the like, and in attractions, such as elephant rides, camel rides, and llama and pony rides that either stand alone or are attached to such venues.”

Luckily, we have some wonderful alternatives to learn about animals while supporting solutions for animal protection. Pasado’s Safe Haven, a nonprofit animal rescue and sanctuary just northeast of Seattle, is hosting a family-friendly Summer Picnic Tour on Aug. 22. Register ahead of time for the tour and bring your own picnic basket to enjoy while visiting with pigs, cows, cats, dogs, ducks, geese, chickens and sheep. Ice cream treats from The Cookie Counter, a Seattle-based vegan ice cream truck, will be available for purchase after the tour. For more information, visit http://www.pasadosafehaven.org/event/picnic_tour.

Consuming less meat

Probably the most effective opportunity we have to be part of the solution for animals is to choose our food wisely at each meal. An unsustainable 10 billion animals are killed every year for meat, egg and dairy products in the United States, and any effort made to reduce our consumption makes a huge difference for animals and the environment. Even just one month of eating vegetarian saves 17 animals and prevents 134 pounds of carbon dioxide from being released, according to Vegetariancalculator.com.

The Vegetarians of Washington, as Seattle-based group supporting non-vegetarians and vegetarians alike, has made it easy to find vegetarian options anywhere in the state with an app via Google Play or iTunes. The group also host monthly dinners at Seattle’s Mount Baker Community Club (2811 Mount Rainier Blvd. S.); visit vegofwa.org for information.

While time will always be limited, our opportunities to make better choices to protect animals are truly unlimited. Every day presents another opportunity to make a cruelty-free purchase, to take 30 seconds for advocacy or to choose a meat-free meal.

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