Kathy Finelli, director of Gainesville Rabbit Rescue

by | Jul 5, 2023

Kathy Finelli–the director of Gainesville Rabbit Rescue (GRR), a nonprofit organization founded in 1998 by two University of Florida students—recalls how her involvement with GRR began 20-plus years ago, when she sought their help after finding a domestic rabbit outside her home.

That was a fateful moment in more ways than one. It not only connected her with GRR—by the way, that first rabbit she helped came to be known as Mr. Bunny–but launched her on a path toward rescuing and living with rabbits, even while also continuing her longstanding affection for cats and dogs. Finelli describes the ways GRR has evolved over its quarter-century existence, calling attention to the very fact that the organization has notably been operating for 25 years, when, unfortunately, a number of rabbit rescues have folded. She outlines some GRR distinctions, including that they offer services across the entire state of Florida, all their rabbits live indoors, and they established a voucher program that enables GRR rabbits to undergo spay/neuter procedures at reduced costs, thereby all but eliminating the so-called “oops litter.” She responds to my observation that, over the years, there appears to be more and more people adopting—or, worse, buying—rabbits impulsively, a practice particularly egregious at Easter, leading to many of those new rabbit owners soon looking to unload the animals.  Finelli concurs, adding that December brings a comparable occurrence, what she called the “Christmas dump season.” This brings us, almost inevitably, to addressing GRR’s adoption system, a well-oiled machine, about which I suggested contains elements of good, old-fashioned matchmaking. Finelli explains some of the measures they employ to help ensure a successful fit, including—if that household has a dog—bringing together the rabbit and the dog, so they can be observed for any conflicts or other issues. (https://www.gainesvillerabbitrescue.org/, https://www.facebook.com/gvillerabbitrescue, https://www.instagram.com/gainesvillerabbitrescue/)

ALSO: I spoke with Mark James, who, in 2021—as a tribute to his late, beloved dog, Hank—built a cabinet in front of his St. Petersburg home in the vein of those Little Free Libraries (you know: “take a book, leave a book”). But this one, called “Hank’s Bark Box,” applies that principle to pet food, meaning someone in need can take some cat or dog food from the “Box”— or, someone who’s inclined, can donate food into the Box. I talked with James two years ago, when he’d first put up the Box; this conversation was intended as a follow-up. James observes that, initially, he paid for all the food offered, whereas now, donations constitute 50%, maybe even as high as 60%, of the food in the Box. James says he replenishes the Box four to six times per day. Coincidentally, earlier on the day of our interview, the Hank’s Bark Box Facebook page posted some eye-popping statistics of what they’ve provided in less than two years, via a cabinet that’s no bigger than two square feet–most notably, a total of 20.25 tons of pet food! Hank’s Bark Box is located at 6511 3rd Ave South, St. Petersburg, Florida. (https://www.facebook.com/Hanks-Bark-Box-104414038731809)

COMEDY CORNER: Norm Macdonald’s “The Crocodile Hunter” (from “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart”)

MUSIC: Rebekah Pulley’s “Talking Animals Theme,” instrumentals

NAME THAT ANIMAL TUNE:  We didn’t play “Name That Animal Tune” today.


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