Home-based shelter gives rabbits a second chance

Home-based shelter gives rabbits a second chance

April 26
23:58 2012

Nicole Balderas / Senior Staff Writer

Every year, as those across the Dallas-Fort Worth area enjoy their Easter Sunday, Diana Leggett waits anxiously for the inevitable distressed calls from the unprepared and overwhelmed.

Leggett, the president of Wild Rescue/Rabbit Rescue Inc., deals with the aftermath of impulsive animal purchasing that particularly surrounds the spring season.

“The phone calls started early Easter day,” Leggett said. “I received six bunnies that are the result of a bad Easter party and got seven phone calls from people still wanting to buy an Easter bunny.”

Photo by Ashley-Crystal Firstley - Three bunnies sit in a surrounding cage in Diana Leggett's front yard Monday afternoon. Leggett owns the largest bunny rescue in the south, housing more than 100 wild and domestic bunnies and some wildlife such as squirrels and birds. Her garage is currently under construction where she plans to build a small clinic.

Rabbits are the third most frequently euthanized animal in the U.S. after cats and dogs, though their life expectancy is just as long.

Leggett, who runs the no-kill shelter out of her own Denton home, doesn’t do adoptions on Easter or the surrounding days in order to diminish impulse adopting. Despite this rule, the shelter sees numerous animal surrenders during the next few months up to a year after the holiday.

“They’re not wanting to adopt, they’re wanting to buy,” Leggett said. “We’re the garbage disposal for everybody’s impulse buy.”

Volunteers of all varieties – including three veterinarians – frequent the shelter, though Leggett said they could always use more help.

“If it weren’t for Petco, I don’t know what we would do,” Leggett said. “Petco gives us grant money to help keep the place running.”

Ever since her move to Texas 25 years ago, Leggett knew she wanted to help out.

“My neighbor showed me around the neighborhood, and I found two bunnies roaming around, both filthy,” Leggett said. “I got them cleaned up and put them in the newspaper.”

Leggett, now state certified in wildlife rehabilitation, has turned her home into a sanctuary for animals in need.

“The garage is going to be rebuilt to be our new intake center,” Leggett said. “Just like a wildlife center, we’ll have a separate room where you can assess the animals and a table for surgeries.”

Biology master’s student Jamie Stine volunteers at the rescue and said a lot more goes into it than just petting animals.

“I feed and water the domestic rabbits,” Stine said. “If any animal needs immediate care we deal with that. Other than that, sick or injured bunnies are taken care of last so we don’t get the other ones sick.”

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