Opening The Bunny Bunch Orange County has been a dream of Caroline Charland’s and volunteers at her Bunny Bunch rescue in Montclair, California, for more than a year. The search for a building in Orange County, California, began in early 2011. “It’s been like a roller coaster ride,” Charland said. “We find the right building and then something goes wrong. That’s what’s been happening over the past year.”
The Bunny Bunch began rescuing rabbits in 1984, and it’s been active in Orange County for more than 15 years doing rescue, having foster homes, holding adoption events and more. But Orange County doesn’t have a rescue facility like The Burrow in Montclair. “We’ve been [in Montclair] four years this year,” Charland said. “It’s been very, very successful as far as helping a lot of rabbits.” It’s open to the public five days a week so people can stop by to adopt, pick up supplies, etc.
Charland expects the same success in Orange County. “We’re calling it Bunny Bunch OC. We’ll be able to do so much more,” Charland said. “We’ll be able set up more programs to help people, working a lot more with Orange County vets, we’ll have a store there, we’ll do bunny sitting, we’ll be doing grooming — everything we do up here we’ll be doing there.”
Currently, The Burrow takes in rescue rabbits from shelters in San Bernardino County, Los Angeles County and Orange County. If Bunny Bunch OC opens, it can handle all Orange County rabbits and free up space at The Burrow for rabbits from the other two counties.
Another plus to the Orange County location is that people who live closer to it than Montclair will have easier access to adopt rabbits or get rabbit supplies. “A lot of the people that are donating are from Orange County because they want us to be there,” Charland said. “So they can get their supplies, get help, if they want to adopt, do bunny dating — any of that stuff. Everyone’s really, really excited. People keep asking and emailing me all the time about it.”
And at last the Bunny Bunch seems to have found a suitable building at the right price in the city of Fountain Valley. The task of finding a building is more difficult than you might think. “A lot of landlords do not want to rent out to people that have animals, that animals are going to be in the building, especially when you’re dealing with rabbits,” Charland said. “People that don’t know rabbits just think of hutches and rabbit poop everywhere, and it’s not like that at all.”
After months of working with real estate agents and going through loads and loads of buildings, Charland said they found some that allow animals. The next major hurdle was the cost of applying for a conditional-use permit from the city to allow them to have animals in the building. The cost of this varies from city to city. It’s a one-time fee, but there’s a catch. The cost is to apply for it. “If you don’t get the permit, you don’t get your money back,” Charland said. Fortunately, Fountain Valley’s fee is within the Bunny Bunch budget.
Then, after going this far in the process, they can be outbid by someone else who wants the building. That’s why Charland is so set on raising the final funds to get the Bunny Bunch into the building in Fountain Valley. “We need to really have $10,000 by July 13th.”
The Bunny Bunch received a $2,500 donation last week, which brings the total needed to $7,500. Charland calculated that if only 200 people donated $37.50, they would reach their goal. “You spend more than that to go to dinner; eat at home and help the bunnies,” she said.
She’s already received donations through the mail and people are sending via PayPal. The Bunny Bunch website lists other donation options.
And Charland got more news that gives her hope for the Bunny Bunch OC dream. Starting today, July 9th, if the Bunny Bunch raises $2,000 by July 13th, someone has pledged to match that $2,000. She’s desperately hoping people will donate so they can get those matching funds.
“As soon as we’ve got the $10,000 we’re going to sign the lease,” Charland said, “and then we’ll be working with the city to get everything up to code so we can start rescuing rabbits and open the doors.”