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

Mary Ellen Campbell, president of the Parksville Museum, visits the PQB News/VI Free Daily studio. (Peter McCully photo)
PQBeat: A chat with Parksville Museum president Mary Ellen Campbell

Podcast: Talk includes plans for 2021, dealing with COVID-19 and more

Eaglecrest Golf Club plans to operate as a nine-hole course starting April 1. (Eaglecrest Facebook photo)
Eaglecrest Golf Club in Qualicum Beach still plans to have course layout reduced to 9 holes

Town council continues to negotiate lease for 18-hole operation

A rendering of a proposed housing development located across from the beachfront in Qualicum Beach. (Submitted photo)
Multi-residential development planned across from Qualicum Beach waterfront

Residents raise variety of concerns about project

Proprietor of Sweet Truck, Morgan Ray, as she hands off her baked goods to a customer. (Photo courtesy of Avrinder Dhillon Photography)
COVID-19: Qualicum Beach baker eyes move back from food truck to bricks and mortar

Storefront offers more stability amid growth in sales: Ray

A health worker holds a vial of AstraZeneca vaccine to be administered to members of the police at a COVID-19 vaccination center in Mainz, Germany, Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021. The federal state of Rhineland-Palatinate, start with the vaccination of police officers in internal police vaccination centers. (Andreas Arnold/dpa via AP)
B.C. officials to unveil new details of COVID vaccination plan Monday

Seniors and health-care workers who haven’t gotten their shot are next on the list

A boat caught fire in Ladysmith Harbour on Saturday morning. (Photo submitted)
Search underway for missing woman after boat catches fire in Ladysmith harbour

A large boat caught fire on the morning of Saturday, Feb. 27

Lone orca from a pod that made its way north from Georgia Strait and into Discovery Passage on Saturday, Feb. 27, 2021. Photo by Ella Smiley/<a href="https://www.facebook.com/Comoxvalleywildlifesightings/?ref=page_internal" target="_blank">Comox Valley Wildlife Sightings </a>
Island wildlife viewers thrilled by close view of passing Orca pod

Group gives wildlife photographers a classic opportunity to view them off Campbell River shoreline

An investigation is underway after a man was shot and killed by Tofino RCMP in Opitsaht. (Black Press Media file photo)
Man shot and killed by RCMP near Tofino, police watchdog investigating

Investigation underway by Independent Investigations Office of British Columbia.

B.C. Supreme Court in Vancouver on Tuesday December 11, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C.’s compromise on in-person worship at three churches called ‘absolutely unacceptable’

Would allow outdoor services of 25 or less by Langley, Abbotsford and Chilliwack churches

Baldy Mountain Resort was shut down on Saturday after a fatal workplace accident. (Baldy Mountain picture)
Jasmine and Gwen Donaldson are part of the CAT team working to reduce stigma for marginalized groups in Campbell River. Photo by Marc Kitteringham, Campbell River Mirror
Jasmine’s story: Stigma can be the hardest hurdle for those overcoming addiction

Recovering B.C. addict says welcome, connection and community key for rebuilding after drug habit

A Vancouver restaurant owner was found guilty of violating B.C.’s Human Rights Code by discriminating against customers on the basis of their race. (Pixabay)
Vancouver restaurant owner ordered to pay $4,000 to customers after racist remark

Referring to patrons as ‘you Arabs’ constitutes discrimination under B.C.’s Human Rights Code, ruling deems

Most Read