In the last few days I've been asked why I'm not using a real bunny for Easter portraits this year. Well there are a few reasons really, for one I feel it's unfair to the animal. I grew up in a home where we took in any stray that came down the pike and either found them a home or loved them ourselves. Both of my cats are rescue cats, and I support many organizations who encourage taking in rescued animals. This is the time of year that many people purchase bunnies, and a few weeks after Easter is when many of those bunnies will end up in shelters. I did not feel it was right for me to purchase a bunny I would not be able to house and love for the rest of it's life, after some research I know my home would not be a perfect fit for a rabbit.
There is the other alternative to borrow a bunny from a breeder or one that is someone's pet. Having a bunny as a pet and using it as the star of the photo session with unfamiliar children are two different things. As many of you know I will do almost anything to get a child to smile, and sometimes that is not a quiet operation, Toddler's photo sessions can be loud and rambunctious sometimes. These kinds of situations are not good for bunnies & rabbits, they do not always like to be held or picked up, and they really don't like loud noises or fast movements. This can all cause undeserved stress on this poor animal, just so it can look cute and fluffy in a picture. Often times when children are young they look at animals the same way they look at stuffed toys, they just don't see a difference, unless they know the animal personally. Because of this they don't always handle the animal properly, which can result in the animal getting hurt or the child getting hurt. Just think about how your toddler handles his or her favorite stuffed toy, how they pick it up and love on it.
Here is an excerpt from Rabbit.org
"Many people are surprised and disappointed to find that rabbits rarely conform to the cute-n-cuddly stereotype in children's stories Baby bunnies (and many young adult rabbits) are too busy dashing madly about, squeezing behind furniture, and chewing baseboards and rugs to be held. Also, rabbits are physically delicate animals which means they can be hurt by children picking them up. Because rabbits feel frightened when people pick them up, they kick and struggle which means children can also get hurt. Rabbits are also built to react to sudden changes which means they may either run away or try to bite when approached too quickly and too loudly. Stress-related illnesses are common."
You can read more of the Article here: http://www.rabbit.org/faq/sections/children.html
I am not completely against using animals in your portraits, in fact I encourage people to bring along their pets for their family portraits. If you have a bunny who your child is very comfortable with handling and cares for that pet at home I have no problem including that bunny in your Easter Portraits. I have people already booked this year that are bringing along their own pets. One Family is bringing along their own hatch lings that they are temporarily fostering through a special program with a local farm, much like grade school classes do.
So for the safety of the animals I will only be providing artificial props for Easter this year, they can be dropped Squeeze and photographed all day long without any harm coming to an animal or your children.