As we in rabbit rescue are all too aware, this is the time of year that many photographers push cute Easter photos featuring young children posed with real rabbits. Often, the rabbits are not cared for properly, are terrified from being handled by children, and end up unwanted or neglected after the Easter rush is over. This also inspires children to beg for rabbits of their own and parents to give in to those demands. Unfortunately, for many small photography studios, Easter portraits can generate up to 50% of their yearly sales. Therefore, it will take considerable work to convince them that they won’t lose business if they stop using real rabbits in their photos.
However, an MMC supporter with LARabbits is leading the charge in asking them to do just that. Instead of targeting individual studios or photographers, she has gone directly to the source and contacted Professional Photographers of America (PPA), a professional organization for photographers. And she’s done it by appealing to their compassion and offering viable – and humane – alternatives to using real rabbits as props, such as brightly packaged chocolate bunnies, realistic-looking toy bunnies, brightly decorated Easter baskets, and flowers. She also suggests that they can attract media attention and additional business by supporting the “Make Mine Chocolate!” campaign.
PPA responded to her request by allowing her to post her letter on their members-only forum and on their newsblog. You can read her letter here. We hope that PPA members will consider her suggestions and contact us for information on how they can participate in compassionate photography.
Last year we were surprised by the support we received from around the world. We were mentioned on several websites from Europe and Asia to Africa and Australia. This year, we are again receiving global support. In addition to our Canadian partners, we have added partners from the United Kingdom: Bunny Burrows joins us from North Yorkshire, and the Bunny Camp Sanctuary hails from West Yorkshire. A supporter in Melbourne, Australia is posting flyers in grocery windows, including one near a local pet store.
We recently received a complaint that some of our materials are contributing to a neighborhood litter problem. In order to avoid future complaints, when you pass out flyers, postcards, and other items, please make sure that you follow all local laws and ordinances. In the US (and other countries), it is illegal to place any non-postal item in a mailbox. There may be other laws regarding the distribution of printed material, soliciting, littering, harassment, etc. Please know which laws apply in your area and conduct yourself accordingly.
It may seem overly cautious, but our message won’t be heard if we don’t respect the property and rights of the people we’re trying to educate.
This year, we have had the support of several groups and individuals from north of the border. Some of our Canadian Partners include the Small Animal Rescue Society of BC (SARS BC) in British Columbia, Vancouver Rabbit Rescue and Advocacy, and the Lexington Road Animal Hospital in Waterloo, Ontario.
We’ve also had many individual Canadians showing their support by wearing our pins and shirts, printing and distributing our ads and flyers, writing letters to local newspapers, and appearing on television and radio shows.
We send a big, warm Thank You to our friends up North for helping to educate their countrymen about house rabbits.
Some of our retail Partners have come up with a creative way to spread our message. Mail-order suppliers such as Rabbit Central and Cats & Rabbits & More are including one of the MMC flyers in all outgoing orders.
If you have a retail business and would like to support the campaign, consider slipping a postcard or flyer into each order or shopping bag. Our flyers can be found here.
What a great way to help save the lives of rabbits across the country!
The 2006 "Make Mine Chocolate!" campaign has gotten off to a great start! To begin with, we'd like to welcome some exciting new partners to our program: the Oxbow Hay Company and Rabbit Central - both pet supply companies with large customer bases. Having these partners will increase our exposure across the country. We had responses from Oxbow's link within the first few hours of their posting it, and Rabbit Central has been kind enough to include one of our flyers with every order they ship. Another partner, Leith Petwerks, is including an MMC magnet with orders over a certain dollar amount. We are extremely grateful for their support.
Another exciting development is that we've created "The Interactive Bun" (formerly the Learning Center) to showcase our interactive educational games. Visit our new look here. Watch for our website to be evolving as we add new features and graphics to make it more user-friendly. All of our new features can be found at What's New.
We have added a new ad and flyer - both black/white and color - to our Marketing materials. Created with the assistance of a professional copywriter, these can be used to catch attention in publications and in public display areas. We've streamlined our business cards to fit pre-cut Avery business cards. And we've added labels (formatted for Avery labels) suitable for affixing to your mailing envelopes. Of course, our original flyers, cards, and other materials are still available as well. Check all this out here.
As is typical for this time of year, we are aware that some professional photographers are still offering Easter pictures featuring real rabbits. Please use the "Make Mine Chocolate!" pins, shirts, flyers, ads, and other materials to raise awareness that this practice needs to end. Many studios offer professional photos with charming toy rabbits that are just as cute and much safer for both buns and children. Encourage patronage of these studios where possible.
Finally, I'd like to share a conversation overheard by one of our volunteers at our local shelter. A couple of women were talking about the rabbits. One said to the other, "So-and-so [undoubtedly, a child] would love a bunny." The other woman agreed. And then one of them said, "But you know they say you ought to buy chocolate for Easter." This is confirmation that we are being heard, and by keeping our message out there, we can make a difference. Thank you again for your support of the "Make Mine Chocolate!" campaign. Please contact me if we can be of any assistance in your local campaign.
Best Regards, Terri Cook