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Sandy, the big bunny that changed North Haven

August 17, 2012|By Carla Hall
  • Kayden Lidsky, left, poses with her father Josh and sister Madison, and Sandy, the family bunny, in North Haven, Conn.
Kayden Lidsky, left, poses with her father Josh and sister Madison, and… (VM Williams / New Haven Register/Associated…)

In big cities, altering zoning regulations is like trying to change the official language. But in the town of North Haven, Conn., a rabbit has managed to, um, jumpstart the process in remarkable time.

Late last month,  Sandy, a Flemish Giant rabbit weighing in at 20 pounds -- not an atypical girth for this breed -- and owner Joshua Lidsky and family were sent a letter from a zoning officer informing them that rabbits and livestock could not be kept on property, such as theirs, that measured less than two acres.  But what started as a local dust-up between a local resident and town officials turned into a viral tale of furry heartbreak, with TV news footage of the languid lapin being cuddled by Lidsky’s doting 7-year-old daughter, Kayden, going national and the North Haven Town Hall barraged with calls and emails in support of the rabbit.

Complicating the matter was that Lidsky already had a complaint lodged against him for what news reports have called “blight” issues with parts of his property (including the bunny cage, apparently).   Lidsky could have appealed the order to banish the rabbit, but he won’t have to.  North Haven officials smartly dispensed with the controversy by not just dropping the cease-and-desist order but also deciding immediately to work on revamping the outdated zoning regulation banning rabbits, according to a report in the New Haven Register. 

Meanwhile, Lidsky has wisely said he will address the issues with his property that triggered the unwelcome attention from local officials.

It would have been easy for town officials to get themselves out of this bunny brouhaha by just dropping the matter and doing nothing else.  It’s impressive that they realized that this was not just a case of bad public relations but aslo of a bad city ordinance that no longer served any sensible purpose.

Rabbits are generally considered the third most popular pet in the country behind dogs and cats.  And like dogs and cats, hundreds end up euthanized when they are released or turned in to a shelter, unwanted by owners who bought them on a whim (most shelters won’t let you adopt them at Easter) or had no clue that they required so much care and attention.  They are not low-maintenance pets: They can live a decade or more, and they need and thrive on socialization with people. (Without it, they can turn mean and bitter.)  It would have been ridiculous if a family that seemed devoted to its pet rabbit had been compelled to give it up. 

The rabbit did good, but so did the town.

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