What is Access to Care Prioritization, and why is it important?

Access to veterinary care is a top priority in our clinics, with a particular focus on affordable services to ensure that animals’ owners can provide care that they might not otherwise be able to afford. True access to care is crucial to animal welfare, and HSU’s clinic is a much-needed service that ensures care is attainable. By focusing on the health and well-being of rabbits, we ensure that​ these pets are vaccinated, ​spayed/neutered, and receive necessary medical attention, significantly reducing the spread of disease in the shelter and the community. This approach​ also helps manage overpopulation issues, minimizing the number of rabbits abandoned in the community. Furthermore, healthy, well-cared-for animals are more likely to be adopted, enhancing their quality of life and enriching the lives of their new families. The prioritization of care in our Pet Resource Center also educates the community about responsible rabbit ownership, promoting a culture of empathy and care. Ultimately, Access to Care Prioritization strengthens the bond between humans and animals, fostering a healthier and more compassionate community.

What are the typical differences between private practice and clinic practices with rabbit surgeries?

  • Private Practices: Typically have veterinarians who specialize in various fields, including surgery, offering a wide range of expertise. They maintain rigorous internal safety protocols to ensure the highest care standards.
  • Animal Shelter Clinics: Perform a high volume of surgeries primarily focused on spaying and neutering, which are crucial for controlling the pet population. Their experience in these areas are vast, performing hundreds of these surgeries a year. They maintain rigorous internal safety protocols to ensure the highest care standards backed by industry best practices for high-volume clinics that are created with data-driven safety research and protocols.

How is HSU doing with rabbit spay/neuter surgeries?

  • In 2023, we provided 311 rabbit sterilizations
    • 128 spays (70 owned rabbits + 58 adoptable rabbits)
    • 183 neuters (96 owned rabbits + 87 adoptable rabbits)
  • Since we started providing rabbit surgeries to the public in January of 2022, we have sterilized over 300 client rabbits and only saw 5 of them return for post-surgical concerns (1.6% complication rate), which is an extremely low complication rate. Generally, the industry standard for normal is considered under 3%. We started tracking surgery complications in 2021 and have only one recorded Pet Resource Center rabbit surgical death in that time. Unfortunately, surgeries in any species include risks despite robust safety standards. 

What best practices does HSU follow for rabbits? 

  • Shelter Best Practices:  We follow best practices for shelter medicine, a specialty focusing on herd health, infectious disease control, and the unique challenges of caring for a large number of sheltered animals.

What pain management medication and post-operative care options do HSU offer?

  • We are happy to offer post-op metacam for additional pain management.
  • We provide injectable pain medication preoperatively. 
  • Intubation of rabbit patients requires special equipment and training that is not possible in our clinic setting. We do not intubate rabbits, but we DO monitor rabbits very closely under anesthesia. Our client survival rate is 100%. 

What adoption education and counseling details are offered to adopters?  

What does the national animal-sheltering data tell us about rabbit adoptions around Easter and with children? 

  • Rather than warning potential adopters away from choosing rabbits as pets around Easter, HSU encourages the adoption of vaccinated, microchipped, and altered rabbits from shelters and rescues who ensure their medical care are provided upfront. Rabbits are excellent pets and providing care information helps discourage the practice of buying baby rabbits as Easter basket fillers.
  • It’s a misconception that shelters shouldn’t adopt bunnies during Easter time. We do not believe in limiting any animal’s chance to find a responsible and loving home simply because myths are perpetuated about the dangers of adopting animals during certain holidays. During Easter, HSU has run bunny promotions in the past years to help bust this myth and celebrate rabbits as pets! All our bunnies are spayed/neutered before adoption, and we would prefer people who intend to get a rabbit as a pet to adopt one that is already fixed. When you adopt an animal from the Humane Society of Utah, you work one-on-one with a counselor. Our counselors are well-trained to ensure suitable matches are made for the person and the animal’s benefit. In 2023, we did not see an increase in surrendered rabbits in the 6 months following Easter. 
  • Equally important, raising children with rabbits (as well as dogs, cats, and other housepets) with appropriate supervision provides an opportunity to teach the next generation about the importance of kindness to animals. Rather than discouraging families with children from adopting rabbits due to concerns about their fragility as prey animals, we provide the same counseling and support that we would with equally fragile animals like kittens, puppies, and small breed dogs.
  • ​Our Humane Education Team uses hands-on sessions where children learn to gently handle rabbits, ​to understand their needs, and learn how to read their body language.​ ​They also distribute age-appropriate videos on rabbit care, health, and nutrition.
  • ​Our educators use engaging stories to teach empathy toward rabbits and the importance of proper care. They bring rabbits to schools to provide direct interaction, fostering a bond and teaching responsibility.