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Rabbit Rescue Continued from Page 7


and all the handling and talking-to shows because the bunnies come right up to visi- tors to greet them, some standing on their hind legs to take a good peek. “I’ve been out there six days a week for two-and-a-half years since I retired,” Lane says.


After spending so much time with the bunnies, he decided to adopt two older bun- nies that had been in the warren a long time. The fi rst rabbit, Nessie Ray, had been at Heartland for seven years, having spent most of her life at the rescue. His second bunny is named Pippin, who he says, Nessie Ray “just adored.” Since Heartland doesn’t adopt out any rabbits that haven’t been spayed or neutered, it was a match made in heaven.


Lane says he became interested in Heartland after he retired from many years of being a psychotherapist. He says over the years, he came to know people who had been “jerked around” and he began to think that animals also have no say, so he wanted to extend a helping hand to them. Lane reaches over and picks up another bunny, strokes its long ears gently. “I pick ‘em up and carry them outside and ask them what they dreamed last night,” Lane says with a smile. “Then I tell them to have fun.” All rabbits paired together are spayed or


neutered in order to avoid reproduction. Rabbits can reproduce every 31 days and can conceive again the day they give birth, Patterson points out. Obviously, this could lead to a plethora of babies, so Heartland is careful to sterilize. Dr. Michelle Corr, a Norman veterinarian skilled in rabbit care, has cared for many ill or injured bunnies with great results.


“We would not be where we are today without her (Corr),” Patterson says. “The animals feel safe with her. She’s saved so many of our animals.”


Education is the key to solving many problems, and learning about rabbits is no exception. As part of her job, Patterson fi elds many questions about bunnies. Some rabbit owners are frustrated with behaviors their bunnies exhibit but after talking to Patterson, they learn that simply spaying or neutering their pet can help. That said, the chewing never stops. Rabbits’ teeth grow continu- ously and are placed in such a way that they grind down as the rabbit eats. That’s why crunchy nibbles are great for bunnies. House rabbits are easy to litter train but even house bunnies must be caged when not attended


so they don’t chew through electrical cords, which could be detrimental to the rabbit and possibly cause a house fi re. At Heartland, the bunnies are taken out- doors for playtime on a rotating basis. There are so many bunnies, playtime only happens about once every fi ve days per bunny; so when they go outside, they seem to enjoy room to hop, dig and munch.


They’re amazing animals,” Lane says. “Smart and complex beings. I’m having a blast and really enjoying what I’m doing.” He goes on to praise Jeannie and her hard work on behalf of neglected, abused and abandoned rabbits. “She is a phenomenal human and a real treasure.”


Mustang OEC member, Christina Womack, volunteer and a member of Heartland’s board of directors echoes Lane’s sentiment. She says of Patterson, “Her dedi- cation to fi ght for them—I’m in awe of her.” Womack contacted Jeannie to learn more about rabbits when she bought a bunny about fi ve-and-a-half years ago. She visited Heartland and says, “I fell for the bunnies hard and found out how terrifi c they are.” She’s been volunteering for about four years now.


“It’s very therapeutic to just go out and pet them and love on them,” Womack says. “They need the socialization just as much as they need their potty box emptied. It’s hard to walk away once you go in. They’re tiny but mighty—they grab your heart.” She should know. Womack has four rabbits at home now, saying she’s had up to seven at one time.


It costs a lot of money to care for over 90 bunnies, and some of the permanent resi- dents are old or disabled, requiring extra veterinary care and medicine. It takes feed and special litter to care for the bunnies. That doesn’t even count the electric bill or the many pillowcases, towels and fleece blankets used for windbreak and comfort purposes. The bunnies chew on the edges of the cloth, which keeps Patterson continually on the hunt for more at garage sales. As a 501(c)(3) non-profit agency, Heartland relies on volunteers and dona- tions to keep the bunnies fed and safe while they await a forever home. Patterson says people who would like to donate or sponsor a bunny may do so through the website at http://www.heartlandrabbitrescue.org. Donations of goods such as towels, fl eece blankets or fabric, oak pellets for pellet litter and paper towels—to name a few necessities— are always welcome. For more information or to donate, contact Patterson at 405-830- 4646.


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