Hello! Welcome to this special guest interview for today. I would like to introduce Gretta Parker, the human mom of Flopsy Parker, the bunny who inspired her to start Baskets for Bunnies, a special non-profit organization which does much to help out rescue/shelter bunnies. To get a little more background, you may wish to check out yesterday's guest post from by Gretta Parker at this link.
RS: Did you have other animals before Flopsy? What kind? I ask this because you mentioned that you were going into the animal shelter to make a donation and walked out with Flopsy!
GP: We have always adopted. We have 3 inside cats, 2 outside cats, 1 dog, 2 rats, and a hamster prior to adopting Flopsy. We still have the same cast of characters.
RS: With my first bunny and with some since, I was terrified that I might hurt her from lack of knowledge. What did you do to educate yourself about Rabbit Care? Did the Shelter educate you? I know that part of
the Baskets for Bunnies mission is to educate.
GP: I actually found a lot of information through the House Rabbit Society http://www.rabbit.org/. I spent the first month researching. I always feel that if I chose to be responsible for an animal, it is my duty to also educate myself to the fullest about it's care.
RS: How do you recommend people educate themselves about bunnies? How do you feel shelters and rescues should educate people about taking care of rabbits?
GP: Rabbits should never be an impulse buy. They can be amazing entertaining pets, but they can be a 10 year plus commitment. A lot of people have the misconception of put a rabbit in a small cage it will be fine. That is wrong, rabbits need grooming, room to play, and at times a lot of veterinary care. A person interested in rabbits should research to make sure their are veternarians in their area. Look at your home and ask yourself do I have the time and space for a bunny. Research dietary needs it so important with rabbits, life threatening ailments can result from improper diet. Rabbits are not low maintenance pets. If you have children, encourage them to do research. I think children should know about their pets as well.
RS: Please tell us a bit about Flopsy. What drew you to Flopsy? Bunnies
do have an addictive quality about them don't they?
GP: Flopsy had the most beautiful soul I have ever seen. I don't know if I can ever type accurately what I felt when I saw him. He drew me in.
RS: What made you aware of the issues facing shelter rabbits? Was it through education from the shelter or just through your own reading and research?
GP: I learned a lot from the House Rabbit Society. I had seen a newscast prior to going into the shelter, that was about how shelters in the fall have a lot of rabbits surrendered due to people buying rabbits at Easter then realizing they did not do their research, dropping the bunnies off at shelters. I realized that bunnies are the 3rd most abandoned animal in the US. They do not get the press or resources a lot of the time due to agricultural laws. I realized that making Flopsy a Facebook page to express this might help.
RS: What are the most important issues to you at this point in time?
GP: Rabbit rescues need help, they cannot rescue without support from the public.There needs to be a national rabbit spay neuter plan, and more education.
RS: Tell us about Baskets for Bunnies.
GP: Baskets for Bunnies, is my non profit. I started it this summer, the idea being a non profit to support non profits. Rabbit rescues need supplies, in order to save more bunnies. That is what the idea was when I started it.
RS: Do you address certain issues through Baskets for Bunnies? Who do you help and in what ways?
GP: I make education posters, help raise money or supplies. I will start a nationwide spay and neuter program for rabbits. I will build a sanctuary. I want to build a sanctuary, where special needs or older rabbits who should not be in shelters can come live out their lives. I like to think of it as an Easter Bunny retirement home.
RS: Tell us about your recent Baskets for Bunnies campaign which helped many shelter bunnies have a Hoppy Holiday season (I couldn't resist!).
GP: Toys for Hops....I was standing in the line at my bank and saw a sign that said "Get a Plush Horse Toy" with new accounts. I thought why not do a toy drive for rescues. I sent out letters to vendors. Zupreem Foods and Pet Rabbit Toys stepped up. Pet Rabbit Toys(www.pet-rabbit-toys.com) set up an online link and matched every donation made through the link, they worked overtime to get all the toys made. We shipped almost 2000 toys all over the US to rabbits in shelters and rescues. This was done just through Facebook in two weeks.
RS: Do you have any other campaigns going on now or in the near future?
GP: Baskets for Bunnies, it will be our Easter supply drive. I am going to start it next month. Last year my friend Kasey Lary and I worked on it, this year I have the non profit, if I have to stay up for 2 months straight I want to pull off another drive where we do not have to tell a rescue the word "no".
RS: I am greatly sorry about your loss of Flopsy. It is so difficult (perhaps devastating is a better word) to lose a bunny or a companion animal. Flopsy, in his short life, stole so many hearts and helped so many others through his inspiration. He has left you with a legacy and mission you want to fulfill. Please tell us about all this. I know it may be difficult, because his loss was so recent.
GP: From the moment Flopsy came into my life he inspired me. He made me get up, he made me care, he made me want to be a mother to all of the rabbits who do not have homes. He gave me the inspiration to get started, it is my duty to carry his mission on. I adopted him for $7.50 and he gave me lessons, that no money could buy. He was always bigger than me. I tried to share his images so others could see the beauty I saw in him everyday. May he be a testament to the wonderful animals in shelters all over the world. I will always be his #1 fan and advocate.
RS: What ways can we, as bunny lovers, businesses or organizations, help out your cause.
GP: Help me share Baskets for Bunnies website, mission.
RS: What types of donations do you take?
GP: Anything that will help a rescue, Paypal donations, checks, toys, blankets, cages, anything that a rescue can use. Sometimes rescues need help with medical costs, sometimes they need water bottles. Gift cards, ask us. Sometimes I can refer people to local rescues to take stuff. I am trying to get the sanctuary built so anything to help with that.
RS: You have a store online? What other ways can people buy merchandise
that supports your cause?
GP: I have a shop www.cafepress.com/flopsyparker that sells bunny lover gear. I do custom stuff sometimes. I made a bunch of handbags before Christmas.
RS: Can people volunteer with your organization? How would one go about
GP: Email me firstname.lastname@example.org
RS: Since the loss of Flopsy created such a big empty hole in your life, I understand you have adopted two new bunnies. It is amazing how much our bunnies teach us about love and the capacity we have to share it. Our bunnies train us to fully love and share that with others. They inspire us to want to do this. Some people don't understand this until it happens to them. They don't replace the loss we have suffered, but
help us continue to share the abundance of love we had no clue we had the capacity for. Do you agree? What are your thoughts?
GP: There are some people who will never understand the relationship between Flopsy and me. There will never be anything that hurts me worse than when I lost him. I have a little girl bun Bella that was grieving with me, she loved Flopsy as much as I did. I also love her more than myself. My family also knows that shelters and rescues are full all the time. The truth is for every animal adopted 2-3 are coming in. I set my grief aside, and accepted two wonderful buns in my home from the York SPCA. Flopsy taught me to love without fear of anything. I have three buns now, and they are keeping me busy. I want to build a sanctuary as I mentioned early, I want to put Flopsys ashes there. I will put my office in it as well, and we will both where we need to be.
RS: Thank you for your time. Your work- from your mission, artwork, photography and promotion is all creative and inspiring to say the very least. I feel honored to be able to interview you and help promote your message! Is there other things or points you might want to add that I may have
missed? Please share links or any info you may wish to share.
GP: Thank you!
www.basketsforbunnies.org or find us on FB. I will keep Flopsy Parker's page up as well. I am writing a childrens book based on his life it will be released this Spring. It will be called "The Easter Bunny Who Grew Up" all proceeds will go to Baskets for Bunnies.
Gretta, Thank you so much for joining and sharing with us, especially so recently after the loss of Flopsy.
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