Vicki Anderholt didn’t always know everything there is to know about the raising and care of rabbits. Her bunny odyssey began nine years ago, shortly after she moved to Calabasas from living overseas. One day, to celebrate her daughter’s then fifteenth birthday, she took her and five friends downtown.”We went to the garment district in Los Angeles on a Saturday morning … I gave each $25 with instructions to buy a dress, shoes, and jewelry to wear out to a birthday dinner at a nice restaurant. No one could spend more than the $25.”
But instead of an outfit, one girl returned with a baby rabbit, she said. “Unfortunately, her father wouldn’t let her keep it, so I ended up taking it,” she said. Little Leo became her first pet bunny.
Since then, Anderholt has become a self-proclaimed expert on rabbits, having volunteered with the Agoura Hills Animal Shelter, “only for the rabbits,” for the past seven years, she said. She also runs a foster home for rescued and unadopted rabbits.
“We take them off death row [from the shelter] so they will not be put down ever,” she said. “We care for and feed and litter-box train, as well as spay and neuter and provide medical care for these bunnies.”
Many of the rabbits come from those people who initially adopt them for holidays, such as Easter, then learn they are not so easy to care for. “They are so sweet as babies,” she said. “But when they hit adolescence, four months to two years, they can get ornery, just like typical teenagers.” However, past the age of two, they “come back around,” she said.
Anderholt says that people need to think twice before adopting a rabbit, particularly if they have young children, as they have sharp front teeth and strong back legs for kicking. “Bunnies teach [older] kids conditional love,” she said. “We are so used to dogs that love us unconditionally, but rabbits aren’t like that. You have to work for their love and respect.”
Rabbits are also fragile creatures. Their typical life-span is eight-12 years. They require hay as a large part of their diet, need constant grooming and lots of room to run around.”They don’t like to be caged,” she said.
In addition to rescuing rabbits, she runs The Bunny Groomer, a business that grooms the pets as well as a website that offers advice for rabbit owners. She also recommends rabbit.org as a major source for all things rabbit.
Because she spends so much of her own money on food and medical care, she asks for donations through her website. She also charges a nominal fee for adoptions.
When she’s not caring for her multitude of fosters, Anderholt offers community service hours for kids interested in helping her.
She’d also like to put out a call for potential host families to help in the bunny fostering.
In addition to her website, Anderholt can be reached at 818-225-7367.