Staff hop to the rescue at dogs and cats home

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BATTERSEA DOGS & Cats Home takes in hundreds of dogs and cats each year, but members of staff were taken aback when an unusually long-eared arrival came through their doors.

The Mini Lop rabbit arrived at Battersea’s London centre after a kind member of the public found her on the roadside not far from the shelter.

Battersea didn’t have a hutch to hand, but luckily member of staff Amy Baird did. Amy, who works as a lost and found assistant at Battersea, offered to give the rabbit a home- naming her Lotus.

Word of the strange arrival quickly spread throughout Battersea. A few days later another member of staff was walking through Battersea Park and spotted a poster, written in child’s handwriting, with the headline ‘have you seen this rabbit?’

It didn’t take long for Battersea to connect the dots, and a phone call and email exchange quickly revealed that the rabbit belonged to 7-year-old Athena Lowes.

Athena’s mum, Tanja Gullestrup-Lowes, said the rabbit- whose real name is Pearl – had managed to find a small hole in the fence and escaped while they were cleaning her hutch.

Tanja said: “When I broke the news to Athena she burst into floods of tears. She thought Pearl would get hit by a car. We searched the whole neighbourhood for Pearl and put up posters hoping someone would find her. She was missing for five days and every day when Athena came back from school, she would ask if anyone had found her. When Battersea called, she was so relieved and happy to hear Pearl was safe!”

Tanja drove down to Battersea’s Brands Hatch centre in Kent, where Amy was working, to pick up the escape-artist bunny. Pearl and Athena have now been happily reunited, and the hole in the fence has been found and firmly sealed.

Battersea’s Amy Baird said: “It was sad to have to give up Pearl, she’s such a lovely rabbit and I’d really fallen for her. But it’s great that she’s been reunited with her family and that it’s made Athena so happy. We see a lot of reunites at Battersea, but they’re all dogs and cats- so this was a bit different!”

Battersea’s Centre Manager Robert Young added: “So far this year, we’ve helped to reunite 461 dogs, 307 cats and one rabbit with their owners. While I don’t think we’ll be changing our name to Battersea Dogs, Cats & Rabbits Home any time soon, it’s lovely that this bunny tale had a happy ending.

“On a more serious note, if people do have animals other than dogs and cats they need to rehome, we’d ask them to take them to a specialist charity or a wildlife centre.

Unfortunately, we don’t have the facilities to keep them here at Battersea – and we might not always have a staff member with a spare hutch!”

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