Wheelchair Gives Oreo Disabled Bunny New Lease on Life
Oreo disabled bunny can’t hop, but soon he should be able to roll.
For the past two months, the 4-year-old rabbit has been to death’s door and back battling a bacterial infection, which left his hind legs partially paralyzed. The black and white Netherland dwarf has been confined to a padded laundry basket, barely able to drag himself around with his front paws. But owner Robyn Koley refuses to give up on Oreo disabled bunny and posted his plight on Facebook. Now, thanks to a page that has garnered almost 1,200 likes, Oreo disabled bunny will be getting a custom-built $300 bunny wheelchair so he can live out his days disabled but not defeated. Koley, a 19-year-old Orangeville animal lover and aspiring SPCA investigator, says her friends — who consider her a “crazy animal lady” — weren’t surprised by her online pitch for donations, but were taken aback when it worked. “I’ve never really been huge on social media myself,” said Koley. “But I made him a Facebook page and it got over 500 likes in less than 24 hours … Now my friends know I’ll go to extreme lengths for any of my pets.” Later this week, Oreo is heading to Mt. Albert, where he’ll be doing his first fitting of an American-built aluminum wheelchair. “It’s like a wheelchair built for a person, but it’s just for a different body type,” Koley said. It was just before Halloween when Oreo disabled bunny started acting oddly. He would flop from side to side, slamming into the sides of his cage so hard Koley knew something was seriously wrong. “He was having a seizure,” she said. “I called the (vet’s) clinic, but they told me, ‘You know more about rabbit health than we do.’” After a barrage of blood work, x-rays and medication, Oreo disabled bunny was diagnosed with a life-threatening Pasteurella infection. Two months and one heartbreaking relapse later, the rabbit has pulled though, but with potentially permanent neurological damage. “It’s not an unusual situation,” said David Kirkham, a veterinarian with the Cheltenham Veterinarian Centre in Caledon. “It was an uphill battle, but he’s getting better … unfortunately, the infection has compromised his ability to hop.” Koley says she was left with three options: 1) keep a handicapped rabbit, and assume all the care that he’ll need; 2) try a wheelchair; or 3) euthanize. “I did a lot of research on it. I looked on YouTube and everything, and rabbits are actually able to get around on the wheelchair pretty well. Some of them are even able to use their litter boxes after they get the chair.” Most pet wheelchairs are made in the U.S., and shipping can add a lot to the price. Fortunately, Molly Barber, a former veterinary technician, has set up a business importing the wheelchairs in Mt. Albert — less than an hour’s drive away. Barber, who mostly measures and fits chairs for dogs, says that just about any pet can be accommodated. “It’s a unique case because with cats and dogs, we want to encourage them to use their back legs, but with rabbits, they want to hop,” she said. The aluminum chairs feature a padded saddle for the animal’s rear quarters and a soft yoke that fits around their shoulders. For Oreo disabled bunny, Barber will be adding stirrups to keep his hind legs off the ground. “Once the front legs go, the back end just follows. It makes the pet feel like they’re walking themselves.” Koley says the ordeal has been taxing and expensive, but she’s happy she didn’t give up. “There were so many times when people were like, ‘You’re spending an insane amount of money on this animal you’ve had for four years. You don’t know how much longer he’s going to live. It’s just a rabbit.’” “But to know that he gets to live a little bit longer and be happier and that he doesn’t have to sit around and be disabled for the rest of his life, that he gets a wheelchair — that really, really pushed me and helped me to make the decision. “I contemplated euthanizing him and now, seeing him get all excited and starting to act normal again, it’s really satisfying.”
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