The Alliston and District Humane Society’s four year long efforts of fundraising have finally paid off.
Last week, the not-for-profit animal shelter installed its second rabbit house, following the installation of the first one a few months earlier.
"I wanted something for the animals to go out and have some fresh air and to eat some green grass instead of being inside…and we put them out for exercise when we're cleaning their cages” noted Janet Dickson, who spearheaded the project.
She said the rabbit houses also allow the shelter to do adoptions outside during COVID-19.
Dickson came up with the idea to fundraise for the project at the Humane Society after noticing donations for bunnies were low.
She told The Times people didn’t realize they were adopting rabbits back then but they’ve been successful in shifting that perspective over the last few years.
The animal shelter currently has 25 rabbits in house and an additional 20 in foster care.
"This has been our busiest season…I feel because of COVID,” said Dickson.
“We’ve had a lot of adoptions but we've also had a lot of surrenders and a lot of rescues."
There was a significant increase in people buying or rescuing puppies during the start of the pandemic, when everyone was at home, which could have contributed to the problem, noted Dickson.
Rabbits being purchased for small children around Easter is another source of surrendered animals to the Humane Society.
“We know that a lot of bunnies that are purchased at Easter don't even make it until their first birthday, they end up getting dumped because what happens is they hit maturity and then the bunnies…start nipping a little bit because their hormones are going crazy,” Dickson explained.
At the beginning of 2020, the animal shelter had an intake of 30 rabbits from an animal rescue organization, some of which were pregnant, and many needing advanced care.
"That was a huge undertaking and we were working around the clock to medicate them and whatnot,” Dickson recalled. "We had just got through that and then COVID hit."
The Humane Society is currently closed to the public for walk-ins but open by appointment.
It has seen less money coming in this year because of the pandemic, which has kept their doors shut and cancelled several fundraisers.
“We are [an] all volunteer-based shelter and we get no government funding, so we [have] seen a huge decrease in monetary donations because people are having a hard time too," said Dickson.
"I know it's really hard times, but we have a lot of animals that we help, so donations and food, monetary, anything like that is greatly appreciated."
The cancellation of the animal shelter’s open houses that were hosted twice a month has made it harder to get animals adopted and increase exposure of their services for donations, according to Dickson.
To fill in the gaps financially, the Humane Society is working on a 50/50 draw fundraiser.
Going forward, the animal shelter hopes to weather the waters of COVID-19 and get back to its normal format of operating.
“Our shelter's not that large and we've got volunteers coming in morning and night,” Dickson said.
“We have people coming in feeding, cleaning, walking the dogs, so that alone, there's a lot of people, so we're trying to keep the volume of people at the shelter down right now,” she added.
"We're taking it one day at a time.”
Sam Odrowski, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, New Tecumseth Times