- Associated Press - Thursday, October 16, 2014

ERIE, Pa. (AP) - Rescued rabbits will have a permanent hutch in Millcreek Township this fall.

Erie Area Rabbit Society & Rescue is moving to a small commercial building at 2316 W. 38th St. The bright pink “Bunny Bungalow” could be open for adoptions by Christmas.

A society member bought the former tailoring and alterations shop for the rescue and adoption organization for $63,800 on Oct. 1. The group plans to build an addition to the 480-square-foot structure to house rabbits available for adoption. Existing space will be used as an office, quarantine area, and welcome center, where visitors can learn more about rabbits and meet potential pets.

“We’re pretty happy about it,” E.A.R.S. co-founder Ron Steger said. “There’s even a backyard where we can take the rabbits outside.”

Steger helped found the rabbit rescue organization in 2013 to shelter abandoned or abused rabbits and find them quality homes. It’s currently sheltering animals at 5071 Peach St. in commercial space made available to the organization rent-free by owners Anthony and Jennie Talarico.

“That probably saved us $25,000 to $30,000 in rent and utilities a year. And we’re very, very grateful,” Steger said.

Still, the space isn’t ideal for a shelter. There’s no running water or restroom, and a back room, where some rabbits are housed when the shelter is crowded, isn’t heated.

“With the weather getting cold, we’ve already moved some rabbits to the new location,” Steger said.

The society is currently sheltering about 50 rabbits.

“A few were abandoned; people just put them out the back door. Some were surrendered by people who can’t keep them for some reason. Others say things like they got the rabbit for their kids for Easter and the kids got tired of it,” Steger said.

Steger, 67, got his first rabbit, a Dutch that he named Rascal, in 2009. He now owns nine rescued rabbits.

“They make wonderful pets,” said E.A.R.S. President Linda Jones, 63, who let rabbits out of their pens for exercise while cleaning at the new shelter Tuesday. “They’re very loving.”

The E.A.R.S. shelter on upper Peach Street remains open for adoptions Wednesdays from 4 to 7 p.m. while volunteers work on the new building. The organization sterilizes each rabbit that volunteers take in and foster until they find permanent homes. It charges a $50 adoption fee for one rabbit, $80 for two.

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Online:

https://bit.ly/101A8IL

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Information from: Erie Times-News, https://www.goerie.com

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