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

Terrace RCMP arrested two men on Feb. 17 after they were told to leave the Sunshine Inn and then became combative with police. (Black Press Media File Photo)
Terrace RCMP arrest men visiting a person in COVID-19 isolation

Men attempted to strike police with a chair, threatened to kill officers when told to leave

The Terrace & District Chamber of Commerce hosted a virtual all candidates forum for the Coast Mountains School District trustee by-election on Feb. 23, 2021. (Screenshot/Terrace & District Chamber of Commerce Facebook)
Terrace trustee candidates lay out top priorites during virual all candidates forum

All candidates forum was held virtually on Feb. 23, 2021

(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

(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

COVID-19 vaccines were available at a site on East Pender in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside Feb. 25. (Twitter/Sarahblyth17)
Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside residents offered $5 after getting COVID-19 vaccine

It’s an effort to ‘incentivize people to engage,’ says B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix

</p>
A survey by Statistics Canada finds Black Canadians earn less than non-visible minority Canadians despite having higher levels of education. (The Canadian Press file photo)
COVID-19 worsened unemployment picture for Black Canadians

Black Canadians also more likely to suffer other hardships

(Black Press Media files)
B.C. teacher transferred then suspended after students report feeling ‘scared, nervous’

Authorities found that teacher did not create inviting, respectful environment for students

Victoria’s Swartz Bay terminal. (Black Press Media file photo)
BC Ferries offers cheaper, prepaid fare options

Ferry service preparing for busy terminals when travel restrictions are lifted

FILE - Dolly Parton arrives at the 61st annual Grammy Awards on Feb. 10, 2019, in Los Angeles. The Grammy-winning singer, actor and humanitarian posted a video on Tuesday, March 2, 2021, of her singing just before getting her COVID-19 vaccine shot. Parton donated $1 million to Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tennessee for coronavirus research. (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP, File)
‘Vaccine, vaccine’: Dolly sings ‘Jolene’ rewrite before shot

The Grammy-winning legend turned 75 this year

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Chrystia Freeland speaks about the Fiscal update during a news conference in Ottawa, Monday November 30, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
COVID-19: Wage and rent subsidies, lockdown support to be extended until June

Chrystia Freeland says now is not time to lower levels of support

The area on Cordova Bay Road where ancestral human remains were discovered Feb. 22. (Submitted photo)
Human remains discovery a reminder of B.C. Indigenous culture dug up and displaced

‘These are the people who inspired and birthed the generations that we now have here’

Most Read