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Animals: Some Steps to Prevent Cruelty

March 17, 1994

Do the Easter bunny a favor this year. Fill the kids' baskets with chocolate eggs and marshmallow chicks. Pile on the jelly beans. But leave out the live rabbit.

That's the message Camilla Ribeiro-Kulin wants to send to those planning to make gifts of bunnies to children who may be ill prepared to care for them.

Two years ago Ribeiro-Kulin and her husband, Michael Kulin, founded the South Bay Rabbit Society, a group dedicated to rescuing mistreated and abandoned lagomorphs from Marina Del Rey to Long Beach. The results of pet neglect are an all-too-familiar consequence of the holiday as far as she is concerned.

"A very small percentage of rabbits sold at pet stores actually end up having a good life. A lot of them die," she said. Many are dumped at shelters. Still others are set free in vacant lots to face starvation and predators like cats.

The 150-member South Bay group, working with the national nonprofit House Rabbit Society, rescued 93 bunnies last year alone. "That's just scratching the surface of the problem," Ribeiro-Kulin said.

Properly trained rabbits make great housemates according to the Kulins. Their Manhattan Beach house serves as burrow for 35 rescued rabbits.

In its foster care system, the South Bay Rabbit Society currently shelters about 70 animals in need of permanent homes and holds monthly adoption days for potential owners. But Ribeiro-Kulin warned those intent on having a rabbit for Easter that they are not buying a toy.

"So many people are shocked when we tell them a bunny can live to be 15 years old," she said. "When people know what they're getting into, they decide not to or become more committed."

SHIRLEY ASANO

Palos Verdes Peninsula

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