Sunday, 29 November 2009

Interview - Meet Karen - Buckeye House Rabbit Society Volunteer

I have been helping the Buckeye House Rabbit Society with their fundraising by letting people know about their great Holiday Raffle that is on and the super prizes you can win. Cheques postmarked by 1st December for US tickets and tickets by paypal on their website will still be available for another week.

One of the great things about supporting a rescue is getting the know the dedicated people behind the scenes, without which the rescue would be unable to do it's life saving work.

I had the privilege of asking Karen Salvagno who runs their Gift Shop and does emergency fostering a few questions.
Thank you very much Karen!

Richland, now well after his ordeal.

You look after the Buckeye House Rabbit Society online Gift Shop and also foster rabbits for them. How did you first get started?

About 11 years ago, I got my first Holland Lop from a co-worker who was getting out of the breeding business and was giving them away. I really didn't know anything about rabbits and looked on the internet to find out some information.
This is when I discovered Buckeye House Rabbit Society. I joined shortly after finding them.
Then about a year later, I volunteered to take care of the online gift shop when another volunteer had to give it up.

It was probably a few years after I joined BHRS when I got involved with temporary fostering. I don't foster on a regular basis. When there is an emergency to get a rabbit into BHRS for fostering and there is no room at any permanent fosterer's homes, I will take the rabbit in.
I have them in my care anywhere from a few days to a few months. When an opening comes up in permanent foster care, then the rabbit goes there.

While in my care, the rabbits are taken to the vet and I take care of any treatments that need to be done along with their daily care.

Daphne is still afraid but making inroads.

I don't actually do any of the adoptions. The permanent fosterers take care of that.
If someone happens to be interested in a rabbit that is temporarily in my care, they call the permanent fosterer that is associated with the rabbit and make arrangements through them to see the rabbit.

Most of the time I take the rabbit over to the permanent fosterer's home for anyone to see the rabbit.

Please tell me about your foster rabbit Richland. I believe he has had a rough time?

Richland was found in the middle of the road in a rural part of Ohio by a very nice couple.
They brought him home and found that his ear looked like it had a bad abrasion.
The couple did take Richland to their vet and their vet told them just to put some antibiotic ointment on his ear.

They never had rabbits before and realized that they were in over their heads so they contacted BHRS.

There were no spots available in permanent foster care but it was felt that Richland needed to come into BHRS quickly. So I volunteered to temporarily foster him. The couple brought him over to my home and I set up an area for him.

While I was looking at him, I realized that there was more to his wounds than just a surface abrasion on his ear. I could tell that he had an abscess on the base of his ear and into the back of his head. He also wouldn't keep his right eye open. I made an appointment for the vet the next day.

When I took Richland into the vet, the vet found that poor little Richland had escaped a dog or coyote attack.

The wound on his ear was the right size for a dog or coyote bite.

This had also happened a while ago and had become severely infected.

Not only was his whole ear infected from the tip to the base and into the back of his head but the infection had traveled to the front of his face and he had a huge abscess in the front of his face running from his forehead to his nose.

Richland also had a corneal ulcer in one of his eyes.

Richland had to have surgery to remove the abscesses. I had to flush the wounds on a daily basis and give him twice daily antibiotic shots.

Once a week he went to the vet and the vet had to put him under to continue to remove abscess material that kept appearing.

After a month of weekly vet visits and twice daily antibiotic shots and flushing the wounds at home, his abcesses finally cleared up.

While we were taking care of his abscesses, we were also putting 2 types of eye drops into his eye to help heal the ulcer.
After a month of this, his ulcer had stopped healing.
The vet discovered that a membrane had formed over the ulcer so he went in for another surgery to remove the membrane.

His eyelid was stitched shut so the eyelid wouldn't irritate the eye every time it opened and closed. I had to put drops on his eye for a few days.

His eyelid stitches will be removed shortly and we are hoping that the ulcer will be healed. One more vet visit and we hope this will all be over for Richland.

Most of Richland's fur has grown back. He will probably have some permanent fur loss on his ear.
But he is doing so much better.

He was a very angry rabbit because I was poking him twice a day with a needle and forcing liquid into the abscess areas along with putting 2 kinds of drops in his eye twice a day.

Now that we are done, he is a much happier rabbit and is even enjoying being pet.

Richland after his surgery. In the background you can see his soft toy.

Richland has been through a lot and would love a home with lots of love and attention.
Someone who will be a little patient with him if he isn't super friendly right away since most of his experience so far has been being stuck with needles, stuff put in his eye and liquid squirted in places he doesn't like.

He does enjoy being pet when you pet him and he realizes that is all you are going to do to him.
He does like cats and gets along well with cats.
He enjoys watching the activity in the home so it would be great if he could be in an area where he can see the daily activities.

You also have a foster doe, Daphne, who is very afraid of people. Could you tell me about her please?

Daphne is about 2 or 3 years old. Buckeye House Rabbit Society took her in from a local shelter that was going to euthanize her because she was aggressive when anyone stuck their hand into her cage.

She is very afraid of people and didn't like a hand coming at her.

I have Daphne in a 4x6 area using a metal puppy pen. She does much better when she feels that she can "escape" from you.

I make sure she has an escape route when I enter her area and she is much happier about that.

She does let me pet her once in a while but it is just a couple pets and she is done. Sometimes when I'm cleaning her area and she feels threatened, she will lunge at me but has never tried to bite.

Daphne needs someone with a lot of bunny experience who understands not to corner her and how to deal with the lunging.

I think if someone had a lot of time and patience, she could come around.
She will probably never be a super friendly bunny.

She does get along with my cats. Daphne loves to watch what is going on so she would do well in an area that gives her some privacy yet also gives her the ability to see the activities around her.

Daphne also loves to rip up paper and will shred any newspaper that I give her.
Daphne is very healthy and loves her pellets, hay and veggies. She is also VERY good with the litter box.

Richland in his 4 x 4 area with his blue house 'private sleeping area' and where his soft toy stays.

Can you tell me a bit about the puppy pens you use please?

The rabbits aren't on a metal floor. The metal puppy pens are only sides, they aren't actually cages. They are panels that fold and can be make into shapes. So the top and bottom is open.
Usually we put them in square/rectangular shapes for our rabbit's living area.

So the rabbit is actually on the floor as it is preferable to have the rabbits living on the floor.
What many people do is buy 2 metal puppy pens or make the pen area in a corner of a room, then take a 4x8 sheet of plywood and glue on linoleum then put a metal edge around the edges of the 4x8 to protect the ends of the linoleum.

Then the rabbit has a solid floor that is easy to clean.

Most people in the US keep the rabbits in an area as I have described while they aren't home and then have the rabbit roaming the house when they are home. Some have dedicated rooms for their rabbits.

The rabbit behind Daphne in the pictures above is my Sara. Both girls were actually in their litter pans/kitty litters and Daphne does make a mess with the litter so there is a metal cooling rack (usually used for baking) in her litter pan but that is the only place that she is on metal.
Her litter is directly below and she can't stick a foot through the metal since the litter comes all the way up. This way the litter doesn't fly all over the place.

the BHRS mug in the online Gift Shop

What are people's main reasons for wanting to get a rescue rabbit?

There are several reasons why people like to get a rabbit from a rescue.

They are already spayed or neutered.
They have had a vet checkup.
They have already been brought back to health if there were any health issues.
They are already assessed as to how friendly or not friendly they are.

The rescue group can help a potential adoptee pick out the right rabbit for them.

There is usually a good selection of types, colors and personalities of rabbits to choose from.

The adoptee gets a lot of information on how to care for the rabbits along with ongoing support if they have any questions.

and the other side of the mug - a very familiar sight - as any house rabbit owner knows!

How long have you been looking after the online Gift Shop?
I have been looking after the online Gift Shop for about 10 years now.
What are your most popular items?
The most popular items are the license frames, mugs - as pictured above, The House Rabbit Handbook and the Rabbit Health book.

Richland fully recovered with his stitched closed eyelid and healed ear.

Are there any points that you would like to emphasize?
Any donations that come into Buckeye House Rabbit Society go for the rabbits and their care.
We have several sanctuary rabbits that need extra vet and home care along with rescues like Richland who also need extra vet and home care.

Thank you very much Karen for taking the time to answer my questions.
It is great to know that you and the dedicated volunteers at the Buckeye House Rabbit Society care so much for rabbits, especially rabbits that have been abandoned and endured frightening and terrible situations.
My Arabella and Wesley have been thru the same sad experiences and Arabella also lunges at me - 4 years later. I have had 3 very small bites from Wesley when I first got him home as I moved my hands too quickly around him and had scared him. It takes a special person to be entrusted with the safety and happiness of a rescue rabbit who has been thru so much. Patience is a necessity and love blossoms endlessly from rabbits who gain your trust and love.
If you had not yet purchased tickets for the super raffle there is still time - a few days - and your kindness will be repaid by very thankful hearts in the visible, good work you are helping to continue.
Thank you


  1. Wow, another informative read, you do have a great reporting style !
    It warms my heart to know that there are people like Karen and places like Buckeye looking after the welfare of bunnies.

  2. thank you Pey.
    I am very grateful indeed that Karen and all the other people who foster and have rescues care so much to help these rabbits.

  3. When I took home my first two bunnies, I new nothing about rabbits, rescue or the kind of care that bunnies need. Luckily I did some research and soon discovered the plight of bunnies, then became an advocate with a passion for seeing bunnies live good lives. I pray one day Daphne and Richland find permanant homes with love and are so spoiled they will forget their former life.

  4. thank you Christina, I pray that they will get that too.


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