Redondo Rabbit Rescuer
Rabbits may be known to bring good luck, but they often come upon hard times in Southern California. Domesticated bunnies are euthanized in shelters because of overcrowding or die of diseases spurred on by neglect, according to animal activists.
Linda Baley is one of at least 17 known rabbit rescuers in the Southland who works to make life better for these bunnies by taking them in, nursing them back to health, and matching them with new owners.
But unlike other rescuers, Baley runs her entire operation out of her Redondo Beach home. This unofficial “Rabbit Lady” said she houses 30 to 50 bunnies at one time and has adopted out somewhere between 300 and 400 bunnies.
Baley said her longest case of “bunny rehab” was two years. But generally, a bunny’s stay at Baley’s is short-lived.
“Oftentimes, they come in and go out within the same week,” Baley said. “It really all depends what state the rabbit is in when he comes to us.”
While Baley receives some rabbits from busts of illegal sales, she often finds domesticated bunnies that have been set loose in parks and other open spaces.
“Only wild rabbits belong in the wild,” Baley said. “It’s a totally different species, and your domestic rabbit dies a really terrible death.”
Overwhelmed rabbit owners also give their bunnies to Baley when they are no longer able to care for them. Baley said people have been dropping off bunnies on her doorstep since her childhood. Even back then, she was known for caring for bunnies.
“It was assumed, ‘Hey, this must be Linda’s bunny,’” Baley said. “It wasn’t, but we would take it anyway and adopt it out, fix it, and litter box train it. The most we ever had was eight.”
She first increased her “bunny capacity” to 15. Then in December of 2007, she dove head first into the rabbit-rescuing profession after finding a group of 30 bunnies in Alondra Park. She took those rabbits home and was suddenly caring for 45.
Baley relies on donations from rabbit adopters, animal rescue foundations, and independent donors to keep her operation afloat. She must pay for food, medication, and veterinary bills for the rabbits while they are in her care. A trip to the feed store alone can cost at least $150.
Alongside her efforts to find new homes for the bunnies, she also uses them to help small children with disabilities and fear issues.
“Unlike like a dog, which will just come up to anybody and demand attention, a rabbit won’t give you attention unless you give it the right calmness in your demeanor and the right petting,” Baley said.
Baley hopes to sway families to adopt larger bunnies for longer periods of time instead of buying baby bunnies and getting rid of them once they mature.
“What we like to do is get really big rabbits for really small kids because their claws are less sharp,” Baley said. “They’re more docile. Little kids treat them like the cat and they’re less likely to pick them up."
According to Baley, many first time rabbit owners simply don’t know what they are getting into.
“The truth is, this is an exotic creature, and just like anything you need to learn what kind of responsibility it takes to take care of it,” Baley said.
Baley said rescuers like her are able to assist new owners in these situations and ensure they are comfortable with caring for their new pet.
“We are here to make it easy, to help you find the right breed-specific food for your animal that will make it happy and healthy... to help you pay for that food it you can’t afford to feed it,” Baley said. “We get stuff donated to us all the time. So we’re here to help.”