In 2002, as PEC Executive Assistant Audri Nelson was leaving University of Notre Dame and entering adulthood, she decided to get a pet. But there was one problem: She wasn’t much of a cat or dog person. After a friend suggested adopting a bunny, Nelson began to research the species, not knowing their soft ears and big eyes would soon steal her heart and inspire her to volunteer at multiple rabbit rescues in the state of Texas.
“Thus began the story of the rest of my life with house rabbits,” Nelson said.
Rabbits are the third most surrendered pet at animal shelters, and when Nelson moved to Texas in 2005, she began volunteering at the North Texas Rabbit Sanctuary in the Dallas area. A few years later, she moved to the Texas Hill Country and dedicated her volunteer time to the House Rabbit Resource Network (HRRN) in Pflugerville.
A nonprofit, fully volunteer-staffed shelter, the HRRN specializes in rescuing and adopting rabbits and educating people about how to give them proper care. You can find Nelson and her identical twin sister, Erin Nelson, volunteering there every other weekend.
“I clean, feed, fund raise, groom, socialize with the rabbits and visit with potential rabbit owners,” Nelson said. “I always say there is power in numbers, and because every single volunteer is such an asset to this shelter, it’s one of the reasons why we were able to find forever homes for 180 rabbits last year.”
Nelson is always delighted to give company to rabbits at the shelter, but when she’s at home, she also cares for her two special needs rabbits, Jaci and Jolly Rancher. She can’t help it, she said, she’s a “sucker” for bunnies who need a home due to medical issues or socialization problems.
“It’s just like having a dog or a cat; the more time and energy you put into fostering a relationship with the bunny, the more sociable and trusting the animal will be with you,” Nelson said. “Just like humans, every bunny has its own personality, which I love. Some are feisty, some are edgy or some just love to be cuddled.”
While rabbits are cute and fluffy, it’s important to understand that owning a rabbit isn’t for everyone, she explained. That’s why organizations like HRRN are in place to make sure a person and a bunny are a perfect, lifelong match.
Nelson couldn’t imagine her life without a rabbit or two in it. As long as the HRRN sustains their good work, she’s committed to continue volunteering with the organization. She might even adopt another rabbit in need in the future, too.
“I’m pretty sure most of my family and friends call me the crazy bunny lady, but I don’t mind it at all,” Nelson said. “I will proudly wear the badge, or should I say ears, of honor.”
To learn more about HRRN and how you can help, visit rabbitresource.org.