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Bunnies to Bring Joy to Children at Riley's Place Today

The Peninsula Humane Society and SPCA will adopt a group of bunnies to the nonprofit Riley's Place in Woodside today, which support ill children and those who come from challenging homes.

Today at 2 p.m., the Peninsula Humane Society and SPCA (PHS/SPCA) will be adopting one of its few dozen bunnies to Riley's Place, a Woodside nonprofit that provides animal experiences for kids facing life-threatening health issues or other challenging family situations such as homelessness or abuse.

Melody, a young female lop, will make her new, permanent home on Riley's Place's Woodside property and soon begin offering children the special kind of comfort unique to animals.

"We are happy to find homes for all our animals, but this is obviously special," said PHS/SPCA spokesperson and Patch columnist Scott Delucchi. "We're touched that one of our homeless animals will not only have a great life at Riley's Place, but will help so many young children who deserve to experience some joy in their lives."

Since being founded in 2009, Riley's Place has adopted two miniature horses, two guinea pigs and three other rabbits from PHS/SPCA. Children from all over the Bay Area visit the nonprofit's Woodside rural property and spend time with the menagerie of animals. And, for children unable to travel, Riley's Place brings its animals to them.

For these reasons, Riley's Place carefully selects animals, and looks for well-adjusted pets who are comfortable being around children and being handled. All visits are supervised.  When animals aren't interacting with children - which is most of the day - they have plenty of down-time and they also have dedicated volunteers and staff who provide general care, socialization, grooming and training.

"The bunnies are very popular with our children because they are small and cuddly, and the kids might also see them as somewhat vulnerable, which makes them more endearing," said Wendy Mattes, co-founder and executive director of Riley's Place.  "We appreciate our relationship with PHS/SPCA because we know the animals’ temperaments are carefully evaluated and that those selected for our program will be comfortable around kids.”

In general, PHS/SPCA is careful when placing rabbits the week of Easter, mindful that some families might be adopting on impulse.  However, year-round, the shelter does everything possible to educate potential adopters about bunnies and find matches with families and individuals who understand the animals’ needs.  Annually, PHS/SPCA places 150-200 rabbits into new homes.   

Rabbits require patience and gentle handling, as they are fragile animals. They should be kept indoors, and not outdoors in a hutch, as they are extremely susceptible to the elements. 

Like puppies, they explore the house and chew, so the house should be rabbit-proofed and caregivers should provide items and toys appropriate for chewing; electrical cords are a common target, so they should be protected.

And, like cats, they can be trained to use a litter box and they enjoy daily interactions with family members. Rabbits should be spayed or neutered if kept as pairs.

The average rabbit can live eight to 10 years, or more.

For more information on Riley's Place, visit www.rileys-place.org/.

For more information on the Peninsula Humane Society, visit www.peninsulahumanesociety.org.

Scott Delucchi's columns appear on Patch sites throughout the Peninsula, including this site, each Sunday.

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