Easter is one of those holidays when there are concerns about dumb pet purchases. Spur-of-the-moment purchases of inappropriate pets can lead to animal suffering and death, and risk of human infection. Easter’s problems: baby chicks and rabbits.
Rabbits can make great pets. They’re a long-term commitment, but they’re relatively low maintenance, a lot is known about how to raise them and they are generally low risk for transmission of infections to people. Chicks are a different story. Chicks are notorious Salmonella vectors and have been linked to numerous outbreaks. They are easily injured and often improperly raised. They also grow up (well, some of them do, at least) to be full sized poultry, something that most people don’t really want.
A story from Vidalia, Georgia highlights some of the issues with Easter pets. In it, Tracy Gunn describes his need to buy a chick for his daughter – and not just any old chick, but a dyed chick, something that’s illegal in 36 US states, but not Georgia. Gunn states "I don’t know what she’s going to do with it." Sounds like a recipe for a few minutes of novelty, followed by a relatively short life for the chick. At least his daughter’s 17, and not in the high risk group for salmonellosis.
Alongside the cage full of multicoloured chicks was a collection of rabbits.
“The bunnies sell real good for Easter. We’ve been selling a lot of them about the last month. Can’t keep enough of them.” said a store employee.
He followed that up with “They buy (rabbits) for their kids for Easter, then they take Easter pictures and stuff like that with them, I’m not sure about what happens to them afterward.”
That’s the problem. Kids get a few minutes of novelty enjoyment, but then a lot of those animals end up dead, released into the wild (not a good thing) or dropped off at an animal shelter, because people don’t think about the "afterward" part before they buy.
Pet purchases need to be made with thought and foresight:
- Do I really want this pet?
- Am I committed to taking care of it for its entire life?
- Can I take care of it properly with my current living situation?
- Can I afford to take care of it properly?
- How do I take care of it?
- Are there any disease risks that I need to be concerned about?
- Are there any people in the household who are at high risk for disease caused by this type of animal?
If you can’t answer these questions, don’t buy or adopt an animal – of any kind.