Bright Eyes Sanctuary is a 501c3, nonprofit, tax-exempt, charitable animal sanctuary. We provide sanctuary for unadoptable animals, animals who were never adopted, harder-to-adopt, and special needs animals.
The only animal we rehome are the companion rabbits in our care who are from local animal shelters and whom we are still trying to place in acceptable homes. We provide hospice care for older, ill and infirm rabbits, a few guinea pigs, as well as several dogs, cats, and previously abandoned and abused parrots.
All of our rabbits have come from county or municipal animal shelters where they faced either euthanasia or release into rescue. We do not take in animal surrenders from the public. We are a no-kill shelter. If you have an animal you can no longer keep, you may ask us for advice to eliminate the problem causing you to want to give up your animal, but we are not able to take in your animal for you. That's what the county and municipal animal shelters are for and they are funded by state, county, and/or municipal funds. We are not. We are funded solely through donations from the public.
We provide sanctuary for special needs rabbits, and a few guinea pigs. These animals require hours of caring attention every day and thousands of dollars in veterinary bills every year. We need your support to continue this work.
In the future, we will be expanding this section to include more information about the sanctuary animals in our care. In the meanwhile, we highly recommend this book (featuring one of our former sanctuary rabbits, Rebecca) When Your Rabbit Needs Special Care by Lucile Moore and Kathy Smith.
Special Needs Rabbits
The special needs rabbits in our care have included a 14 year old, arthritic Dutch rabbit named Marley who required expensive daily and weekly arthritis medication. We currently have several older rabbits with chronic conditions such as bladder sludge, kidney disease, or ones who require regular molar trims under anesthesia - a common affliction of the older rabbit, and a costly one. Josephine is our oldest resident at the spritely age of 16!!! Emily, who looks exactly like Josephine, is now 14 and her husbun, Cisero is 11. Donovan is also 11. These are some of our senior and/or special needs rabbits but we have several more very elderly rabbits as well as very special needs rabbits.
Then there was Beatrix, about six years old, she was a very sweet mini-lop lady. She came into a local shelter with advanced uterine cancer, which 85% of all female rabbits will develop if they are not spayed by age 5. We went to great expense to spay her, not a risky surgery at all for her, but the cancer had spread to the omentum. It further metastasized throughout her body. We kept her comfortable as long as possible and let her enjoy every bit of life left in her. Currently, Belinda, the sweet, loving mini-lop, was diagnosed with basal cell tumor but was removed and this was considered curative.
Orion is a hotot marked mini-rex boy, who came to us at about one year old who has symptoms of megacolon, a genetic disorder. That is, whenever he becomes stressed, his poops vary in size from very small to very large, all within one group of 'output.' He requires a very stable, stress-free environment and having his diet carefully monitored. When he has a flare-up, he must be watched for signs of dehydration and not eating. He currently lives with his beautiful but half-blind wifebun, Bubbles, whose eyes have a rare type of dark cataract which is probably genetic.
One of our sanctuary rabbits, Galadriel, had scoliosis, or curvature of the spine which is genetic also.
Dental disease and more
UPDATE AUGUST 31, 2010:
Our Beautiful Earless Empress, Glenna, has hopped over the rainbow.
Please view her Requiem. The Requiem is temporarily closed to additional entries.
The Little Hobo Rabbit's Story
Glenna is an incredible lady, you can just see it in her eyes in the above photo, can't you? She survived insurmountable odds until a Good Samaritan vet tech found her wandering around the neighborhood where she lived in late summer 2009. The kindly vet tech was persistent and finally apprehended this sweet young rabbit and took her under her wing.
However, Glenna's ears were dark and necrotic; dead tissue. Although it was summer, it was presumed she must have succumbed to frostbite or some unimaginable evil, and she was covered with urine stains so deep, her fur was almost completely yellow. The stench from rabbit urine was so strong, it was thought to be that of a skunk. But I finally recognized it as the same stench 11 rabbits had whom I'd helped a local animal control department confiscate from the squalor of a backyard rabbit breeder five years ago. Those rabbits had been kept in at least a foot's depth of their own feces and urine for months in the burning hot summer sun in 2005. Glenna had that same odor to her fur.
Glenna's earlobes "washed off" with her first bath and she came to wear the crown you see above - a testimony to the fortitude which many, if not all, rabbits have as their banner attribute. Glenna not only survived these unknown traumas which cost her what many consider to be the very essence of rabbityness, her ears, but she also breezed through two warbles, or abscesses caused by a type of fly that burrows into the flesh to lay their eggs which then hatch into maggots who feast on the warm flesh of the host. This is the bane of the life of a hutch rabbit, unable to escape underground away from the heat and flies of summer. Glenna had two such abscesses removed from her back at the same time she was spayed when Bright Eyes Sanctuary first took her in to become the poster child for why rabbits should be kept in the house. A first appeal went out from Bright Eyes Sanctuary to help Glenna start a new life indoors as queen of the Sanctuary, proudly wearing her crown of past battles won. Many wonderful people stepped up to the plate to help her get a fresh start on life by donating towards her first surgery.
Buck Teeth Cost Much More Than a Buck
But Glenna's trials were not yet over. From this new beginning, she had to conquer dental disease as she had the bad luck of some bum genes - bad teeth. Her incisors, or 'buck' teeth, were so badly misaligned, they caused her jaw to freeze shut and she had to have her incisors removed as they caused her to have TMJ disorder - unheard of in rabbits - she could not open her mouth! And she also needed regular molar trims, but the vet had trouble opening her tiny mouth to trim them. Yet she fed herself by lapping up her porridge, which she loved so much, and wouldn't allow herself to be assist fed. This was the 2nd time Bright Eyes Sanctuary sent out an appeal to her now growing and loyal base of supporters. Again, the rabbit lovers of the world stepped up to the plate and helped raise more than enough funds to cover this intricate dental surgery. And even with that out of the way, she still required regular molar trims every four to six weeks. She also went to a special animal acupuncturist every weekend which helped her to be able to move her lower jaw back and forth so she could eat her porridge and pellets.
Without her front teeth, Glenna had no trouble picking up some pellets to eat but she preferred her "porridge" which became her main diet; a mixture of Oxbow's Critical Care, baby carrot food, and warm water mixed into the very particular consistency of porridge that she demanded and received. She continued to do a wonderful job maintaining her weight with this food, slurping up about four or five bowls of it a day. She loved her food, she danced for it, she guarded it and adored it. It represented everything she was dreaming about during her days as a waif, a bowl of her own with yummy veggies and crunchy timothy hay crushed together exactly how she likes it. She never had to be assist fed once during all of these ordeals. She was an independent gal and wouldn't hear of it. She took care of herself and was a happy, bouncy, dancing bunny every day of the week.
A New Hurdle
Then our dear, indefatigable Glenna came to a new hurdle, one which we were surprised all along that she hadn't yet faced. A jaw abscess. She'd had at least four or five teeth removed (besides her incisors) during regular molar trims as they presented as loose and unstable. She breezed through these extractions and we have kept all of the teeth she's had removed in a little jar as testimony to one tough, unbeatable rabbit lady. But she had finally developed an abscess, presumably in the roots of one or more of her upper molar teeth on the right side. On August 10, she underwent surgery to have the abscess removed and she did very well.
But during the last weekend of August, Glenna developed another abscess, this one behind her eye and probably related to the jaw abscess she'd had removed earlier that month. We had hoped maybe her bulging eye was just from pressure build-up and trapped fluid from her abscess drain flushes, but it wasn't - it was a new abscess behind her eye. And during the procedure to determine what it was, her heart rate slowed and she stopped breathing but was revived with a stimulant. She wouldn't be able to ever be safely anesthetized again. And we couldn't imagine having her lose an eye on top of everything else.
She was euthanized the next day, August 31, 2010, in the presence of her wonderful veterinarian and myself, the loving caretaker of her last year. I personally stayed with her until the last beat of her heart as she did not want to be left alone but she was ready to go. She gave me a look that day I will never forget, that the battle was over and she was now hurrying toward the Rainbow Bridge and relief. But she had no regrets and neither do we.
Thank you to everyone who donated towards Glenna's care. She truly belongs to all of us in our hearts but really, Glenna was no one's property. She was a self-made rabbit through and through, royalty - an earless empress with a vast realm encompassing the hearts and minds of all who merely saw her photo and read her story. Her beauty and poise during all her trials stand as a model for all of us. Glenna, you will be missed!
Please contribute your thoughts to Glenna's Requiem with heartfelt well wishes directed to her to help her on her new endeavors on the other side of the rainbow. She will hear you! You can also see a few videos of Glenna on Bright Eyes Sanctuary's You Tube channel. We have a few more to upload there too sometime soon...
Oliver is a former lab rabbit who becomes very insecure when removed from his comfortable, spacious habitat. This insecurity probably comes from being removed from his siblings at too young an age and being kept in an inappropriately small cage in the laboratory. Although he is sweet and loving, his special needs absolutely must be met or he suffers from great anxiety displayed through aggression.
We also have a few very aggressive rabbits in our care (Bunnicula, and Barracuda) who, although spayed and neutered, may have some as yet undiscovered underlying medical conditions (such as, possibly, incomplete spays or neuters). Or it might just be that they are the exception to the rule and are simply overly aggressive by nature (even though both came to us as young babies). Bunnicky was illegally given away at a carnival as a prize and mishandled during that time. So she became fearful. In their case, although the shelters are full of very nice, agreeable rabbits, we feel that every rabbit's value is not measured by their value to humans.
A "nice" or "adoptable" rabbit is measured by how humans might perceive his or her intrinsic value. We feel this is a flawed philosophy. Animals should be valued by how they value their own life; as Albert Schweitzer would say, each animal has a will-to-be and who are we to judge whether they deserve to live or die because of how they appeal to us?
Nevertheless, we have not run across more than a tiny handful of individuals like this. They have merits which many people might be unable to appreciate yet they are welcome to live out their lives here with us.
We provide the very best in veterinary care and the very best foods available to each of our charges. Since we are a multi-species sanctuary, we are uniquely qualified to help rabbit adopters incorporate these fragile prey animals into a mutiple species home of their own.
Please stay tuned as we expand this section of our website to include more information about all the animals in our care and how you can help them and help expand your perception of animals as individual, sentient beings in the process.
Please Help However You Can
Please consider making a tax-deductible donation to help us continue our work. Thank you.