The Bunny Superhero
by Dan Mullins
Many know Kristina Tellier as a caring, compassionate, and helpful Special Education Technician at PACC Adult. Fewer know that on weekends, Tellier is a bunny superhero.
From an entire colony of the fuzzy critters in Chateauguay to individual rabbits from as far away as Sorel-Tracy and Saint-Sauveur, the organization Tellier volunteers for rescues rabbits. Every weekend, she volunteers for Sauvetage Lapins Errants. She estimates that since its inception in 2019, they have rescued over 160 abandoned domestic rabbits, and demand for their services has been dramatically increasing of late.
Tellier explains that there have been a growing number of abandoned rabbits: “Everybody wanted a pet at the beginning of COVID, so when there were no cats or dogs, they got rabbits and people are surrendering them like crazy right now.”
Tellier had been volunteering since May 2009 at an SPCA, where she says she worked with “the exotic animals, so basically anything that’s not a cat or dog.” That list includes guinea pigs, rats, ducks, quail, at least one lamb, and a goat. “My favorites are the rabbits and the chickens,” she says.
In the beginning, she cleaned cages and socialized the animals. Then, she began helping with adoptions, foster appointments, and education.
News crews would sometimes arrive, especially around Easter. “A lot of families buy rabbits for their young kids,” she explains. “It might not be a good idea to get a rabbit for your child, or you know, if you are going to, then these are some things you need to know.”
For example, people should not keep rabbits in small cages. The animals require exercise and a large rabbit-proofed area to do it in to remain healthy. Also, having rabbits sterilized is especially important.
When COVID hit, the SPCA had to shut down their volunteer departments. But it didn’t stop exotic pets from needing help, and it didn’t stop Tellier from helping them. She joined Sauvetage Lapins Errants., which was founded by a volunteer for the SPCA Rousillon that Tellier knew.
The territory includes Chateauguay, where they once rescued a colony of rabbits that had grown to 38 animals. “It took a year. A lot of it also was people in the neighborhood not wanting us there,” says Tellier, because people mistakenly think that domestic rabbits can thrive in the wild. “So, there was a lot of education, and a lot of reaching out as well, before actually being able to rescue the rabbits.”
As with many workplaces during COVID, Tellier and the team at PACC Adult have had to adapt their working style and overcome many challenges. You might think she would be tempted to take a step back from the rabbit super-hero business, considering the difficulty. So is she planning to continue? “Oh yeah, I love it.”