Dear Mayor and City Council,
My name is Coralie Crumb. I am a constituent. I live, volunteer, and own a small home-based business here in Aurora, IL, called Bunny Binkyland Rabbit Resort. I also work full time at a large local community lender as a regular 9-5 job. I am a strong advocate that it is everyone's duty to give back to our local communities and be an active participant in creating a society we want to see. I am writing to you today to encourage you to vote in favor of the Humane Pet Store Ordinance.
To that end, since 2015, I have spent much of my hard-earned cash caring for animals and any spare time volunteering with Fur Angels Animal Sanctuary (FAAS), a foster-based rescue. Though the volunteers care for ALL animals, my specialty and focus now are rabbits. My volunteer experience lead me to the decision to open up my business. While our primary service is rabbit boarding, we also educate the public on bunny behavior, bunny bonding, and daily care. When I opened my business, I wanted to use Bunny Binkyland to help my community. I'm so thankful for the opportunity to work with 8 different animal rescues, mostly Rabbit Rescues local to the Chicagoland area. Recently I was advised of an essential piece of legislation up for a vote at Tuesday's town hall.
I wanted to provide you with some vital stats before your vote on Tuesday.
Ø Rabbits are the #3 most dumped animals.
Ø Rabbit gestation period is on average 28-31 days.
Ø Rabbits can get pregnant just 3 days after giving birth.
Ø Rabbits can have "double pregnancies" by different sires simultaneously.
Collectively over 500 rabbits were taken in by the rescues in the Chicagoland area during COVID. Usually, these numbers are easily doubled. I reached out to each of the animal rescues listed below, and they were kind enough to give me a quick breakdown of 2020 for me to share with you. Jan Widdows Rebmann, a volunteer of HRS Chicago, also works with Dupage County Animal Services (DCAS) as a volunteer for their Rabbit Adoption Program. She advised that DACS had over 100 strays & surrendered in 2020. I did not add those numbers to my spreadsheet because I did not get an exact number from the shelter directly, but please keep that in mind when looking at these numbers.
Toni Greetis, a volunteer for Red Door Animal Shelter, provided some additional 2019 numbers for a different project, which I have attached. She told me the "Trend I saw in 2020: fewer stray rescues because Easter 2020 fell during the quarantine, so people weren't impulsively buying buns. However, we have seen a huge uptick in owner surrender requests, with most stating that they bought baby buns at a store or breeder during the pandemic." She also let me know that they can't take all the surrender requests. For example, in 2019, they had over 533 surrender requests and only 331 surrender requests in 2020. While quarantine has reduced the overall number of surrender requests, we still have several HUNDREDS of surrender requests during a pandemic.
Every rescue volunteer I spoke with wanted to highlight that most of these rabbits come into rescue unaltered as breeders do not spay/neuter before selling the rabbits. We had several whoopsie pregnancies come into rescue where they thought they had two girls and then suddenly there's babies. It's always busy. We are always full. We need more foster homes, more funding, and we need your help.
This brings us to community animal control programs like the one found at Dupage County Animal Services. They not only have a robust rabbit education program but work with several rescues for capacity issues. Additionally, they spay/neuter all their bunnies before they are adopted (and often before transfer to a rescue), which help with overpopulation concerns. I would like to see Aurora become a leader. We already have examples of how we can improve animal welfare, and people are willing to step up to help.
There are too many animals needing homes, and rescues always struggle with capacity issues. We do not need to encourage more rabbit reproduction. Instead, I recommend additional funding to create a robust rabbit adoption & education program at Aurora Animal Control to educate the public on the numerous resources available to them. I highly encourage pet stores to partner with local animal rescues to showcase the thousands of animals waiting for their forever homes. Please also join me in opposing breeding.
I have been told that I can be a bit naive. I used to think that pet stores had strict regulations, but my time in rescue has quickly squashed those idealistic notions. With the current legislation, nothing prevent pet stores from lying to the public and saying they work with reputable breeders. Frankly, there hasn't been accountability. Many rescuers can attest to the sick & injured animals from these stores, but I also have personal experience.
This is Romper, a tiny Netherland Dwarf. We estimated that he was maybe 10 weeks old when he came into FAAS around late December 2015. He was a pet store bunny I rescued from the Pet Supplies Plus on N. Randal Rd. I found him in a tiny aquarium just slightly bigger than the tiny baby bunny. I noticed his leg askew and asked the cashier what they were going to do with him. I was told that they would send him back to the breeder. I pleaded with the cashier to allow me to take the bunny into rescue as I was afraid he would be sent back to the breeder only to be culled. We took Romper to a bunny specialist, Dr. Ness of Ness Exotic Wellness Center, in Lisle, IL. He advised that the injury was probably a trauma injury. An example Dr. Ness provided, a scared rabbit not being properly held, being dropped from a high height would make this type of injury. He recommended a 12-week laser therapy to reduce pain, strengthen ligaments, break down scar tissue, and hopefully, straighten his leg so he wouldn't put his weight on his knee. I've had several special needs rabbits as fosters, but he had a great attitude. I was so happy when May 2016, he was adopted. While he still has a gimpy leg, he does move around quite well and loves to explore! I also want to thank Pet Supplies Plus as they no longer carry rabbits in store.
I highly encourage all of you to watch the final 2 Naperville City Council meetings before the ordinance passed. Those meetings were on 1/21 and 2/4 of 2020. Something that was revealed at Naperville's City Council meetings was the predatory lending practices of these stores. They do not care what kind of homes their animals go to, whether they have proper supplies/set up, and if someone can't afford it, they are more than happy to offer to finance. Unfortunately, most people who take the financing option don't understand APR percentages. The highest APR was Petland at 144.6% (you read that right). Happiness is Pets and Furry Babies is just as bad. This is harmful to our economy and our citizen's financial health. Hopefully, I have shown why Humane Pet Store Ordinance is needed in Aurora and why rabbits should be included.
I ask Aurora's city council to pass a robust Humane Pet Store Ordinance prohibiting the sale of dogs, cats, and rabbits unless the store is working with licensed rescues. The eight animal rescues I work with spay/neuter, microchip, and work with families to educate proper care. They offer a community of support. This is essential to reduce recision. Please consider a requirement that all dogs, cats, and rabbits be altered before selling/adoption. Passing this ordinance will help protect animals from cruelty and protect your citizens from consumer fraud and predatory lending.
In rescue, we have a saying, "I cannot help all the animals, but I can help this one." Help me help them. Thank you for your time and consideration.
Coralie C Crumb
Bunny Binkyland LLC