Sooke’s Amy McLaughlin has rescued over 400 rabbits across the Island and parts of the mainland since late 2015. (Aaron Guillen/News Staff)

Sooke’s Amy McLaughlin has rescued over 400 rabbits across the Island and parts of the mainland since late 2015. (Aaron Guillen/News Staff)

Vancouver Island woman looking to hop into bigger space for bunny rescue operation

Amy McLaughlin has rescued more than 400 bunnies, pushing for the capacity to help more

Amy McLaughlin’s home is filled with life, laughs, and love.

But it’s most known for being the house on the block with tons of bunnies.

The Sooke woman has spent more than five years running a bunny rescue business out of her home.

Since late 2015, she’s been able to rescue more than 400 rabbits across Vancouver Island and parts of the mainland. She prides herself in giving the fluffy animals a second chance at life after others leave them abandoned, abused or emaciated.

“Since I started it, it’s been quite challenging,” said McLaughlin. “It feels like I never really shut off. Taking care of them is almost a full-time job, but I have such a special bond with each of them.”

She pointed out Theodore, a bunny with black and white patches that will be heading to his forever home in Nanaimo if an upcoming bunny play-date goes well with his new family.

READ MORE: Victoria Humane Society rallies to save sick golden retriever puppy

As someone with a decade of experience at the BCSPCA, McLaughlin takes the process of adopting one of her bunnies seriously. Each bunny has a name, is litter trained and neutered or spayed before being handed over to another owner.

Besides the 20 bunnies that live in her single-car garage, four baby bunnies are in a bathtub, another in the living room and another in her stepson’s room. With two cats, two dogs and six bunnies of her own, the business has been splitting the seams of her home. Now, the Sooke woman is looking to expand.

A GoFundMe page has been launched to raise funds to purchase a permanent bunny rescue facility.

McLaughlin has dreams of having more space to house more bunnies, with the potential for educational seminars for new owners and the ability to sell locally made rabbit supplies. She’s looking for land to host both a new home and a large enough facility to provide 24/7 access to the bunnies.

The goal for the GoFundMe is set at $100,000, and around $3,500 has been raised so far.

“As someone with allergies, I’ve never been able to have a lot of pets,” said Christie Ross, a friend since adopting her bunny from Amy two years ago. “My husband and I were talking about what we would do for Amy if we were to win the lottery. She works her butt off and has such a big heart.”

ALSO READ: Animal advocates applaud plan to eliminate all rabbits from UVic campus

Although McLaughlin gets the perks of snuggling bunnies and watching them grow, sometimes she has to face the harsh reality of her work.

Last month, McLaughlin lost two litters of bunnies within a week of two pregnant moms giving birth.

The babies were too malnourished to survive after the mother rabbit was abandoned and alone on a logging road. She also watched another bunny let out its last breath after suffering a severe seizure, only weeks after being dumped just outside of Nanaimo.

“Sometimes I ask why I’m doing this to myself,” said McLaughlin. “No matter how many bunnies, am I making a difference? You lose sleep over it, and I’m worried all the time whether the ones that recover can find a new home. It’s been an emotional rollercoaster learning to trust people with animals after working in the industry for 20 years.”

Nonetheless, she continues to do the work because she believes rabbits are misunderstood and vulnerable.

She was part of the group that drove 46 bunnies to Texas after becoming an overpopulation problem along Highway 1 in 2016.

Looking ahead, McLaughlin hopes that owners who hopped onto the idea of owning a rabbit to combat loneliness in the pandemic won’t end up dumping them the moment they realize the level of commitment required.

For more news from Vancouver Island and beyond delivered daily into your inbox, please click here.

RELATED: 20 cats saved from abuse by network of B.C. animal rescues


 

Do you have a story tip? Email: vnc.editorial@blackpress.ca.

Follow us on Twitter and Instagram, and like us on Facebook.

Sooke

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

Sooke’s Amy McLaughlin has rescued over 400 rabbits across the Island and parts of the mainland since late 2015. (Aaron Guillen/News Staff)

Sooke’s Amy McLaughlin has rescued over 400 rabbits across the Island and parts of the mainland since late 2015. (Aaron Guillen/News Staff)

Sooke’s Amy McLaughlin holds Theodore, a bunny who will be going to a new owner in Nanaimo within the coming days if all goes will at an upcoming bunny play-date. (Aaron Guillen/News Staff)

Sooke’s Amy McLaughlin holds Theodore, a bunny who will be going to a new owner in Nanaimo within the coming days if all goes will at an upcoming bunny play-date. (Aaron Guillen/News Staff)

Just Posted

Amanda Parsons, a registered nurse on staff at the Northwood Care facility, prepares a dose of the Moderna vaccine in Halifax on Monday, Jan. 11, 2021. Almost two in three Canadians surveyed recently said they trust COVID-19 vaccines to be both safe and effective. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan
Northern Health to open 30 COVID vaccine clinics for oldest residents, Indigenous seniors

Health authority says it plans to vaccinate nearly 15,000 people in Phase Two

(Phil McLachlan/Capital News)
Murder charge laid in February 2020 stabbing death of Smithers man

Michael Egenolf is charged with the second-degree murder of Brodie Cumiskey

Island Health chief medical officer Dr. Richard Stanwick receives a first dose of Pfizer vaccine, Dec. 22, 2020. (B.C. government)
COVID-19: B.C. seniors aged 90+ can start to sign up for vaccination on March 8

Long-term care residents protected by shots already given

The village is hoping for a start date in early April with completion as soon as possible. (Granisle Village website photo/Houston Today)
Granisle’s curling rink to receive a facelift

Receives a $362,148 provincial grant

A huge milestone for Granisle to reach 50 years, said Mayor. (Village of Granisle photo/Lakes District News)
Granisle’s 50 years anniversary celebration postponed

The celebrations are now set to be held in 2022

(The Canadian Press)
‘Worse than Sept. 11, SARS and financial crisis combined’: Tourism industry in crisis

Travel services saw the biggest drop in active businesses with 31 per cent fewer firms operating

A special committee has been appointed to look at reforming B.C.’s police act and is inviting the public to make submissions until April 30, 2021. (Black Press media file)
Have thoughts on B.C.’s review of the provincial Police Act?

Submissions will be accepted until April 30

Cottonwoods Care Home in Kelowna. (Google Maps)
New COVID-19 outbreak at Kelowna care home includes fully vaccinated seniors: Henry

Two staff and 10 residents tested positive at Cottonwoods Care Centre

Excerpts from a conversation between Bria Fisher and the fake truLOCAL job. Fisher had signed a job agreement and was prepared to start work for what she thought was truLOCAL before she learned it was a scam. (Contributed)
B.C. woman warning others after losing $3,000 in job scam

Bria Fisher was hired by what she thought was a Canadian company, only to be out thousands

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix provide a regular update on the COVID-19 situation, B.C. legislature, March 2, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 cases: 545 Saturday, 532 Sunday, 385 Monday

Focus on Prince Rupert, Lower Mainland large workplaces

Rising accident rates and payout costs have contributed to billion-dollar deficits at ICBC. (Comox Valley Record)
B.C. appealing decision keeping ICBC injury cases in court

David Eby vows to ‘clip wings’ of personal injury lawyers

(Black Press Media files)
Hosts charged, attendees facing COVID fines after Vancouver police bust party at condo

Police had previously received 10 complaints about that condo

Minister of Families, Children and Social Development Ahmed Hussen takes part in an update on the COVID pandemic during a press conference in Ottawa on Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2020. A joint federal and B.C. government housing program announced today aims to help people living in up to 25,000 vulnerable households pay their rent. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Federal, B.C. governments announce $517-million rent aid program to help vulnerable

Benefits for those not eligible for B.C.’s Rental Assistance Program or Shelter Aid for Elderly Renters

Most Read