Tim Patino, President/Volunteer Great Lakes Rabbit Sanctuary
Reno Run is an area at Great Lakes Rabbit Sanctuary where we once house just over 500 semi- feral rabbits from a rescue in Reno Nevada in 2006 that we partnered with Best Friends Animal Society.
These bunnies needed help and we thought we could do it but quickly learned we were one of the first to ever attempting to do this with such a large population of semi feral rabbits.
A chore it would be to provide a full life on our property in Willis Michigan but yards with feeding areas watering stations and shelter were quickly erected.
Obstacle after obstacle was what we learned from these rabbits we all loved so much.
With the elements in the summer, 90 plus degree days or the below zero winters left us always trying to find new ways to keep them safe and comfortable. Fans and misting systems were erected in the summer and electric water bowls were placed in the yards for the winter. The two basic needs are food and water and that we could provide but the animals needing medical attention from wounds, head tilt and all the other issues caused from being over breed so quickly was a constant battle and learning experience for us all. But seeing these beautiful animals loving their lives at our sanctuary was very impressive and caught the attention of many supporters and donors as well. Many days and night visitors would just pull up a chairs and watch all the bunnies as it was a sight to see.
Although beautiful and amazing it came with much cost as we had to learn how to take care of this population. Feeding began at 6:00am as that was the best time to feed in the summer before the heat began. In the winter staff would use a sled on the ground to move supplies around quickly on the frozen ground. Making sure they had people to care for them was also growing and our staff of a few became many as this was too much work for a few volunteers to do and increasing our financial expense with payroll.
Medical expense was also out of control with 30 to 40 rabbits typically in our small hospital everyday to possibly not ever be rereleased into the common yard as they would be rejected after being gone for so long by the other rabbits. Many were ill with common rabbit issues but many were ill due to over breeding and just the way they came into the world.
Being the underdog pet of the world we kept trying to go forward but a few years later our organization was now faced with going out of business as we couldn’t financially keep up with all this expense. This also was an emotional burden with our board of directors, volunteers and paid staff personally impacted by our love for the rabbits but also having separate views as to what was best for them and all the other animals we were not able to help as our main focus was the Reno rabbits that were not even adoptable for the most part.
Eventually a few years later the interest and financial ability were lost and we had to say enough is enough. Not being able to pay our bills was a real threat and closing the doors seemed like an option but what would happen to the animals?
We reached out to BFAS once again and they were now able to transfer the Reno rabbits to their organization in Kanab Utah where they built a similar habitat for them and we were able to downsize and cut our cost keeping our doors open and able to focus on local needs once again. This was not an easy decision as all of the people involved with GLRS mostly didn’t understand why. Our decisions were what they were but not ours really as this was all caused by people dumping rabbits. When people dump animals it can go in many different directions but in this case it was the Reno Buns. 1600 rabbits came of this and hundreds of people were all impacted along with several million dollars spent to try and fix what the dumpers thoughtless actions had done.