Long Beach City College cracking down on rabbits
LONG BEACH, Mar 30, 2010 (Press-Telegram - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) -- On a sunny spring day, about two dozen rabbits scamper across the grass at Long Beach City College's Liberal Arts campus.
A few dozen more are crouched under porches and stairways. And yet more are stretched out leisurely in the shade of the trees.
The place is literally teeming with bunnies, a fixture at the campus at 4901 East Carson Street for decades.
"They're very much apart of the fabric of this college," said spokesman Chi-Chung Keung.
School officials say it all started with a few jackrabbits that migrated from nearby Long Beach Airport in the 1980s. But the population soon exploded, fueled by careless owners who decided to dump their pet rabbits on campus.
While the rabbits have mostly been tolerated over the years, officials say the numbers have recently skyrocketed to an estimated 300, wreaking havoc on school grounds.
"The rabbits dig holes throughout the campus, which create trip-and-fall hazards for students and staff and destroy thousands of dollars of landscaping," said Mark Thissell, LBCC's Facilities Director.
The college is now cracking down.
Last week, the school posted signs and campus police will begin enforcing a $500 fine for anyone caught abandoning an animal. As for the current population, the school has formed a Rabbit Population Management Task Force focused on spaying and neutering.
Spearheading the task force is Jacque Olson, a LBCC employee who has been feeding and caring for the rabbits for more than a decade. Last week, Olson and partner Donna Prindle rounded 100 rabbits to be spayed and neutered by veterinarians from Western University of Health Sciences.
The duo spent eight days corralling the bunnies in pens.
The fixed rabbits get a small tattoo on their ear and will either be adopted or release back onto campus, she said.
Olson said people are under the false impression that LBCC is a safe haven for rabbits when they are no longer wanted as family pets.
"It's actually a dangerous place," she said. "They can be attacked by predators, or attacked by other rabbits. They have colonies and are very territorial." Newly-abandoned pets are immediately recognizable, she added.
"They're usually off by themselves or hiding in a corner," she said. "They'll hop up on your lap and look at you like, 'Please take me home!"' For now, the spayed and neutered rabbits are resting in cages in the former carpentry warehouse and will be available for adoption with a few weeks. The task force, funded by donations from staff and students, plans to eventually catch and spay all the rabbits.
Olson said there's one rabbit she'd particularly like to catch, a white male named Houdini. Houdini, she said, regularly comes around to check on a few captured females from his harem. As soon as he's discovered, he's gone in a flash.
"We've tried to get him but he always escapes," she said. "He's a smart one." Rabbits that are suitable for adoption will be available free of cost to people who can demonstrate their ability to provide a permanent home.
For information on adoption contact Jacque Olson at [email protected] or 562-938-4370 or Donna Prindle at [email protected] or 562-938-4356.
[email protected], (562) 499-1305 To see more of the Press-Telegram, or to subscribe to the newspaper, go to http://www.press-telegram.com. Copyright (c) 2010, Press-Telegram, Long Beach, Calif. Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services. For reprints, email [email protected], call 800-374-7985 or 847-635-6550, send a fax to 847-635-6968, or write to The Permissions Group Inc., 1247 Milwaukee Ave., Suite 303, Glenview, IL 60025, USA.