The vernal equinox is said to provide increased daylight, warming temperatures and the rebirth of flora and fauna. For Helen Woodward Animal Center’s Companion Animal Hospital, the first day of the season has brought an unexpected guest – a baby jackrabbit, veterinary workers are calling “Spring.” In a hospital where normal clients include a myriad of dogs and cats, a local canine turned out to be a uniquely gentle courier for the tiny rabbit’s delivery.
A Rancho Santa Fe woman arrived at Helen Woodward Animal Center’s Companion Animal Hospital earlier this week with a tiny bunny huddled in a make-shift bed formed from an Ugg-slipper. She informed staffers that her dog had carried the tiny creature to her, in his mouth, and gently placed it at her feet. The jackrabbit appears to be only weeks old and is showing positive signs of life, although the Center workers have some concern about his back legs. Worried that they may be paralyzed, the baby bunny will be under constant surveillance over the upcoming days.
“We really try to discourage people from disrupting nature and handling wild animals,” stated Chief of Staff Dr. Patricia Carter. “It is very possible that this bunny’s mother would have returned to look for it. I think the woman who dropped it off was well-intentioned and concerned that this bunny may have been injured or that the mother was gone for good. Now that it’s here, we’ll do everything we can to increase its chances for survival.”
The days ahead of “Spring,” will include plenty of hydration, a warm place to sleep, and an intense focus on getting the tiny jackrabbit to eat and receive the best nutrition possible. If the veterinary team can get Spring back up and “hopping” he will be introduced back into the wild within a matter of months.
With spring in full swing, Helen Woodward Animal Center would like to remind the public of the following information: Removing bunnies from a nest greatly reduces their chance of survival. If an individual finds a wild nest of bunnies with no mother present, the nest must remain undisturbed. Mother rabbits forage during the day and return to their nests only at night, staying away as much as possible so as not to attract predators.
If your dog disturbs a nest, please make all attempts to return the bunny to the nest uninjured. Nests should be reconstructed as best as possible with grass, hay and straw. Should the nest require a complete rebuild, try to place it no further than 10’ away from the original site. Dig a shallow hole about 3” deep and return as much of the original material as possible into this new nest, placing the baby bunnies inside. If the baby bunny appears to be injured, Helen Woodward Animal Center recommends that you call Project Wildlife at 619-225-9453 or the Wildlife Center at 858-278-2222.
For information on the Helen Woodward Animal Center Companion Animal Hospital, dial 858-756-4469, visit www.animalcenter.org or stop by at 6523 Helen Woodward Way, Suite 200 in Rancho Santa Fe.