‘I spent £50k rescuing 200 rabbits’

spent £50k rescuing rabbits

by take-a-break |
Updated on

After rescuing a rabbit from death, I suddenly had one hopping mad idea. By Paige Hadlow, 27

I spent £50k rescuing 200 rabbits

As I walked towards the glass runs in the middle of the shop, several eager ears popped up in the air.

Armed with bags of food, I began to pour the nuggets into the bowls.

‘There you go,’ I said, watching their furry bodies dive in for breakfast.

I was 19 and had got a job working in a pet store while I studied at university. And in particular, I had a soft spot for the resident rabbits.

Not only were they incredibly cute, but they had big personalities too.

As I grew to understand these curious creatures over time, certain things at work started to concern me.

I’d always loved animals, but here they were simply treated as products that could be bought and even returned by absolutely anyone.

'Can I take him home?'

‘It’s so wrong,’ I’d say to my colleagues.

But as much I hated it, the bills wouldn’t pay themselves.

Then one morning, a year after I started working there, I went outside to receive a new delivery of bunnies.

But when I looked into the crates on the truck, my stomach twisted with horror.

Inside were not only two dead rabbits, but several emaciated ones too.

I rushed them straight to the vets.

Six of them were beyond help and had to be put down.

However, one white bunny, made of skin and bone, was clinging on.

He was due to be euthanised, but I refused to give up.

‘He probably won’t make it,’ said the vet.

‘Is there any chance?’ I asked desperately.

‘Yeah, there’s a small chance,’ he said.

It was all I needed.

So, I named him Bertie, and back at the store, I found my manager.

‘I want to try to nurse him back to health,’ I said. ‘Can I take him home?’

‘Yes fine,’ he replied.

So that day, I stocked up on all the rabbit gear I needed and took him home.

I spent £50k rescuing 200 rabbits

Over the next two weeks, I syringe-fed him critical care medicine every two hours without fail.

And gradually, his strength started returning.

I hadn’t a clue how to care for a rabbit, but I researched everything I needed to know.

To my surprise I learnt rabbits were classed as exotic animals and needed so much more space than I realised.

Once Bertie was better, I’d fallen so in love, I decided to keep him forever.

His story inspired me so much, suddenly I had an idea.

‘I want to set up a rescue centre for rabbits,’ I told my mum, Carla, one evening.

‘If it makes you happy, just do it,’ she replied supportively.

So three years on, once I’d finished my degree, I set up Clement Rabbit Rescue.

I moved into a house, converting a run-down stable block in the garden into a vast space, suitable for bouncy bunnies.

I set up social media profiles too. And it wasn’t long until I got my first case.

Two months in, an old colleague dropped off a poor rabbit who’d been left unwanted and living in a hamster cage in a garden.

I named him Chester, and seeing his terrible condition and overgrown incisors, my heart broke.

How could someone do that to an animal? I thought.

I spent £50k rescuing 200 rabbits

It was then I realised this rescue centre would be no easy feat.

Alongside Mum, we rushed him to the vets.

All his incisor teeth were removed, and his mites treated.

Thankfully, after a year, he’d put on weight and was able to be integrated with other bunnies.

Over the next few years, I took in dozens more rabbits in need.

The most common reason they were abandoned was because kids had got bored with them.

Regularly, I’d travel up and down the UK to collect the animals, coming to help people who could no longer care for their rabbits.

Some came to me horrifically unwell.

Once I found a tiny baby bunny abandoned in the woods, soaking wet and covered in spray paint.

It made me sick.

But alongside working full-time at a veterinary surgery, each morning I’d wake at the crack of dawn to shower the rabbits with love and care.

Eventually, I moved to Wrexham and set up huge, designated sheds for the bunnies.

Some lived in the house with me too.

Usually I’d have around 18 under my care at one time.

I spent £50k rescuing 200 rabbits

While some of my work was funded by donations, the vast majority came from my own pocket.

In one month alone, I spent £8000 on vet bills and essentials for the rabbits.

Once they were healthy and ready for adoption, I’d undergo a strict vetting process with all prospective owners.

Although it would break my heart to see them go, I knew they were going to good homes.

Now, the centre has been going for four years and I’ve rescued 214 bunnies.

I’ve so far spent £60,000 caring for the rabbits.

Although it means I can’t do regular things like nights out and holidays like other people my age, I wouldn’t change it for the world.

I’m so proud to have given new lives and loving homes to so many bunnies in need!

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