The Snuffles Fund: Caring for Our Crippled Baby Bunny
Organized by: Jorden S.
Last year, in the wake of a horrid, personal family situation finally coming to rest, two sisters went to the LA East Valley Animal Shelter in Southern California with the intent of saving a small animal's life. It was an act not only to give back, but to help them heal as a family, by healing an animal who was, in the eyes of many, "broken". They spent an hour at the shelter, and eventually found a sweet year-and-a-half old American Shorthaired Rabbit named Sweet Pea, and decided to bring her home.
They thought that was the end of it.
While going over the spay paperwork for Sweet Pea, the older sister - who works for a dog rescue and was trained to read shelter papers - noticed that upon her intake, Sweet Pea had apparently given birth. There was no mention of how many babies, nor what had happened to them. When she called the shelter to ask, no one would give her a straight answer.
A month later, the eldest sister returned to the same shelter with a friend who was hoping to adopt a rabbit as well, after mourning the one he had lost years prior due to old age. They entered the rabbit room together and, after looking over the many, many poor creatures locked in filthy cages, he settled on a small gray rabbit in a pen with two others... a small gray rabbit who looked startlingly similar to Sweet Pea. Their cage cards stated they were born at the shelter. Hardly daring to believe it, the sister called over a volunteer and asked if he could look up who the mother was.
Sure enough, it was Sweet Pea... all three babies - two boys and a girl - were her's.
What started next was an agonizing, three-month ordeal to ensure that those three babies - three of many, many out there - made it out of that shelter alive. Since they were too young to be fixed/released, the sister and her friend visited the babies weekly on their days off from their full-time jobs - an hour pilgrimage both ways - bringing with them fresh veggies and plenty of thru-the-bar ear scritches. Every week, it was a gamble... they saw a lot of rabbits who were there when they started coming, no longer there when the time finally came to take the babies home.
On the way out of the shelter, a new rabbit - who had been impounded a few days prior and was scheduled for swift euthanasia - caught the eye of the eldest sister's friend. Thus, all three of the babies fell to her, and four lives in total were saved that day.
They thought that was the end of it.
Reunited with their mother once more, the three babies lived together in an extra large, solid-bottom cage while the eldest sister and her partner worked on constructing a private, insulated, luxury "rabbit room" in the garage of their home - this temporary situation was still a far more luxurious life compared to where the babies came from - the cage was cleaned daily, filled with handmade all-natural toys, fresh fruits and veggies, and unlimited love. They were named Snuffles (grey), Thor (apricot) and Tinkerbell (black; "Tinky" for short). Of the three, only Snuffles looked like his mother, a carbon copy - albeit more energetic - but all three had her disposition for sweetness.
Then, one morning, the eldest sister noticed Snuffles splayed out in the cage. His bottom was stained with urine, and his siblings were crowded around him in a more protective stance than usual. Little Thor, a gentle soul who constantly looked up to and followed his brother Snuffles everywhere he went, would not leave his side - and tried to bite anyone who attempted to examine Snuffles.
They rushed Snuffles to an exotics vet.
It was soon discovered that Snuffles had somehow lost all mobility and feeling in his back legs. He would drag himself around in a desperate attempt at normalcy, barely reactive to any poking, prodding or pulling below his bunny "waistline". Though his love for life and energy levels had not changed, leading the vet to surmise his back was probably not broken, the prognosis was still bleak. Words like "euthanasia" and "quality of life" were thrown around, but in the older sister's mind, as long as Snuffles wasn't willing to give up, neither was she.
Snuffles was immediately put on an anti-inflammatory medication for weeklong observation. He was bathed every morning and every night by the eldest sister and her partner - an exhausting process - and given high amounts of fiber and plant-based omegas to help him try to heal naturally. And while it certainly seemed to ease his discomfort, it was still evident that there was something wrong, that would require further veterinary care.
Then the numbers came. All told, the x-rays, treatment, potential surgery and lifetime special care afterward... it would all cost hundreds, if not thousands.
"[Was it] worth it?"
"Yes, of course, he's not even a year old! He's still got so much life to live!"
"Okay, agreed - but [we] can't even afford the x-rays or an MRI. How can we hope to afford surgery, or a wheelchair, or anything he may need short of medication? That's no life, constantly on medication."
All valid questions and points.
The inevitable treatment Snuffles required would have to be done by a licensed exotics vet, of which there were few. And for those few, they were all equally as expensive. And while there is nothing our family wouldn't do for Snuffles, we are still recovering from our own trauma, both emotionally and financially.
Our only source of strength now is to hope we can raise enough money to tackle the brunt of his care. We have several back-up plans, but we want to give him a shot at the best quality of life he can possibly have - one that doesn't involve separating him from his siblings or his mother, or putting him down - not when his zest for life is so strong, even while in so much pain.
We are currently trying to raise money to afford his treatment - if the result of it can yield him living a semi-normal life again. If surgery isn't an option, we are prepared to care for him the rest of his life as a "disabled" rabbit, but he will definitely need special measures to ensure his comfortability and safety.
All proceeds from this CrowdRise go to "The Snuffles Fund", an account set up solely for the expenses associated with his care.
In the event of any "extra" or "leftover" funds from this campaign, all applicable proceeds will be donated to the Los Angeles Rabbit Foundation, to help fund their work, which helps improve and save the lives of countless shelter rabbits all across Southern California - including the gravely injured, abused, and disabled.
Thank you for your time, support and consideration.
UPDATE #1 - 2/3/16
We got x-rays done on Snuff today. We couldn't afford the MRI ($1,000+), but the x-rays were do-able (thanks to the generous CrowdRise donations we received - thank you all!), and it was mostly to rule things out versus diagnose. The results were... interesting and frustrating. There are no obvious indications of any bones broken, fractured or slipped - indeed, nothing skeletal indicates a warrant for his partial paralysis. What they DID show was his kidneys - as in, both - are about 3x larger than they "should" be. Whether this is genetic or caused by something deeper is at this point unknown, but what IS known is that his situation - as with anything involving kidneys - is precarious. We have been palpitating his bladder regularly to help him eliminate (though he is doing pretty well on his own - an encouraging sign) and he is now getting a bath, an oral antibiotic, and pain injection between the shoulder blade TWICE every day. We are awaiting results of the bloodwork to find out what is going on - the vet said it should take 2-3 days to come back. She is also going to consult with another exotics vet on the x-rays to make sure there is nothing she missed. In the meantime, Snuffles is stable and eating/drinking regularly, as well as sitting up a lot more. He has also been bonding with us during bathtimes, and has no fear of the loud hairdryer. We are encouraged by these things. He lost a lb. since his last vet visit, so we are giving him KAYTEE alfalfa cubes and Nummy Tum-Tum organic blueberry puree to supplement his weight and muscle density, in addition to his normal meadow grass and alfalfa-free pellet diet. He is also getting a little extra baby kale at mealtime to give him something different to munch on.