My friend wants to get a rabbit. I think this is a really, really bad idea. How can I convince her not to?

Our elder has a suggestion…

Dear EWC

Hello! I’m 14 and the mother of my friend group. I keep everyone in line and make sure they have full tummies and a supportive person to come to when times are tough. However, as of recently, one of my friends has expressed interest in wanting a rabbit. Okay, so I know what your thinking: “What’s the big deal?” My friend has a really unhealthy family life. Her parents hate each other and fight constantly. Her mom’s a serious hoarding case and her father smokes inside to the point where it’s damaging the home. The smell of smoke is on everything and she gets bullied for it. I feel so bad for her. She comes over to my house frequently and over time has gotten to know my therapy rabbit, and now she longs for companionship and someone that will always be there for her. Logically, she wants a pet. She’s never had one before. Fish are too boring, her parents won’t let her get a cat and according to her, dogs aren’t cute enough, so she said she’d settle for a rabbit. I’ve had my rabbit for the last three years and let me tell you, he’s a handful. With a very specific diet, high maintenance and a lot of possible health problems. Just not the right pet for someone just starting out.

I just feel like she’s not ready for one. She has no experience with them other than a couple of hours here and there with my specifically trained rabbit and doesn’t understand the negatives of rabbit ownership. Such as destructive nature, specific diet needs, spraying, hostility. How much room they need and how even a little dust can cause some serious health issues. Imagine what a home filled with cigarette smoke would do. I’ve told her my concerns and she’s refusing to hear me out. I don’t know what to do. I can’t in good mindset watch as a poor innocent rabbit is sentenced to this situation, but I also understand why she wants one. It’s a back and forth and I hate it.

Sonora replies

First I’d like to compliment you on your very thoughtful, articulate, and intelligent letter. You are able to see both sides of your friend’s issue. You understand why she would want a pet to love, given the chaotic situation in which she lives. And, you also have a concern for the wellbeing of the rabbit. As an animal lover, I am right there with you.

You’ve told her your concerns for the health and safety of a rabbit living in the conditions you describe, yet she refuses to listen because she so badly wants a pet. This must be very frustrating. I have an idea, but I have no clue how good of an idea it is or even if it will work (assuming you’re on board).

You mentioned that caring for your rabbit is a handful. Tell your friend this and that you would really love help and ask if she’d be willing to share your rabbit (with the condition it has to live at your house because obviously moving a rabbit back and forth would be unhealthy for it). Let him know how grateful you would be so she doesn’t feel as if you are just patronizing her. Perhaps then she will feel like she has a pet without having all of the responsibility and without putting an animal in an unsafe environment. If she’s interested then have her work with you to care for your rabbit and as she does this she’ll be learning about the needs of the rabbit and what delicate creatures they are. While I’ll bet you know an awful lot about caring for rabbits, there is always something more to learn and it might be fun to find some reading materials or websites about rabbit care that you and your friend can read together. I think the fact that you are also learning new things would make her feel like more of a partner. Maybe you can even come up with some games where you quiz each other or see who can find the most obscure facts about rabbits.

Ultimately, if she decides she is going to get a rabbit no matter what, unfortunately, there isn’t anything you can do about it other than try to help her care for it. I hope this helps you out, and if you have any further questions or feedback on my suggestions feel free to write back to me.
Letter #: 435961
Category: Friendship

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