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Valleywide Focus

Group Discourages Pets as Easter Gifts

March 30, 1994|JEFF SCHNAUFER

They are cute, fuzzy and cuddly at first, but the more you keep them around, the less your family may appreciate them.

They are live bunnies, chicks and ducklings and San Fernando Valley animal advocates are discouraging people from giving them as Easter gifts.

Martine Colette, executive director of the Wildlife Waystation in Tujunga, said that these baby animals often become more like household pests than pets as they age.

"Chickies are really cute, but three weeks from now, they look rather chicken-like and not so cute," Colette said. "And what are you going to do with a crowing rooster when they wake the neighborhood up?"

According to Colette, many people simply do not know what to do with them when the animals get older.

A few weeks after every Easter, Colette's nonprofit agency receives a few dozen calls for help from frustrated owners whose gifts have grown beyond their control and appreciation.

"Ducks are extremely messy," Colette said. "Their manure is everywhere. It's on the grass; it's on the patio. No one wants to be stepping on manure."

Even bunnies outgrow their owners' affections. And in most cases, Colette said, it is the children who get tired of taking care of them.

"Rabbits become a responsibility," Colette said. "Who's going to clean up after the rabbit? Who's going to feed the rabbit?"

Because her animal refuge is designed primarily to care for abandoned wild and exotic animals, Colette cannot accept unwanted rabbits, chickens and ducks.

Although some pet and feed stores may take the grown animals back, Collete has one piece of advice that will avoid any problems.

People who are planning to give a small animal as an Easter gift "should get one in plush velvet," she said.

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