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We received an HRN volunteer e-mail alert from Suzanne at headquarters about a domestic bunny “on the loose” in North Andover. Since that’s not too far from where we live, we called Suzanne, who informed us that the bunny was actually in Boxford, even closer to us! Suzanne had gone by that evening to try rescue the bunny, but he had fled into the woods. We called Nancy, the woman who contacted HRN, the next day to let her know that we would come by that afternoon to try our luck in catching the “wayward wabbit.”

We pulled up at Nancy’s home around 4:00 P.M., where she greeted us along with her two young daughters. Nancy told us that someone had dumped off two bunnies at the entrance to a state forest area that abuts her property. At first, she had seen both rabbits but lately only one was still around the area. It is a tragedy that people release domesticated rabbits into a dangerous and deadly environment! She had called the local Animal Control Office, who instructed her to catch the rabbit herself and bring it to the MSPCA. Nancy had no idea how to capture a rabbit, so she called the MSPCA for help. They told her that they had no space for a rabbit, so they gave her the HRN’s phone number and that was how she got in touch with Suzanne.

She told us that “Buddy,” the name that her daughters had given the rabbit, was hanging out in her back yard area at that very moment! We all went out back and there he was, right at the edge of the tree line. Clearly, he was a domesticated bunny and didn’t fear people’s presence; however, he would only come close enough to take some food. Nancy took some raisins we had brought with us and was able to coax him onto the back edge of the lawn. He loved the raisins but retreated to the woods when we tried to approach. This wasn’t going to be as easy as we first thought!

Next, Tommy tried to play “Bunny Whisperer” and gingerly moved into the woods behind Buddy. He would get as close as three or four feet, but Buddy would hop away if he got any closer. Back and forth through the edge of the woods they went, for a half hour, at least!

At this point, Buddy was out near the edge of the lawn again, and Tricia decided to try to use the ultimate bunny capture weapon: a banana! Tricia worked her way towards Buddy by crawling on her belly, commando style, with a half-peeled banana thrust in front of her. Using her best “bunny voice,” she soothingly spoke to Buddy as she inched her way towards him. He seemed indifferent at first, but as she got within arm’s length, Buddy caught a whiff of the banana; for what seemed like an eternity, he hovered right near her.

Then, she made her move! She lunged from her prone position and was able to get a grip on Buddy just behind his shoulders, but Buddy was just too quick! He wiggled loose and scampered away as Tricia lay empty handed on the grass, our hopes seemingly dashed. Curses, we were foiled again!

Scarcely wasting a moment, Tommy rushed to ensure that Buddy didn’t escape into the deep woods. Curiously, Buddy almost seemed to be enjoying this game of cat and mouse. After about another fifteen minutes of Buddy going from one side of Nancy’s property to the other, he finally seemed to be getting a little weary. He would lay down at the lawn’s edge when given an opportunity. We knew that if we could maneuver Buddy into the right spot, we might get another chance to corral him.

Just a few minutes later, Buddy decided to head up onto a small wooded knoll. With the help of Nancy’s daughters, who helped block escape routes, we were able to distract him as Tricia, on her belly once again, closed in from behind. She made another dive, and this time Buddy was not getting away. She enveloped him with her body and arms, kissing him on his head and ears, telling him that he was safe and that we were going to help find him a “forever loving home”!

We slipped Buddy into our bunny carrier, equipped with a blanket and treats to comfort him. He settled down quickly and seemed at ease. We thanked Nancy for being a Good Samaritan, and told her how much we appreciated her diligence in attempting to ensure Buddy’s safety. It took just a little more than one hour, but our first bunny rescue was a success!!!

Buddy (or Budd-ette, we’re not sure) appears to be an English Spot rabbit. He has gorgeous, silky white fur and magnificent chocolate and black markings. From the stains on the bottom of his feet, our guess is that he/she was a hutch bunny that someone turned loose. He/she is adjusting well to domestic life in our family room; his comfort level with us has increased dramatically. He will allow us to pet him, hand feed him treats, and as a “thank you” he will do heads bobs, bunny toe dances and, best of all, he will dart into the carrier, dig around a little, and then do a gigantic flop! He is a BEAUTIFUL bunny that will fill your heart with love! Soon he will be headed to an HRN foster home to be readied for adoption.

-Tricia & Tom:HRN Volunteers and Bunny Wranglers-