By Ginny Greninger, NMHRS member, volunteer, and Santa Fe Animal Shelter volunteer
The Santa Fe Animal Shelter (SFAS) volunteers noted that the area outside the SFAS bunny room was a prime spot for a possible outdoor exercise area. The concept just had to be roughed out and presented to the Shelter.
Iris Klimczuk and Palin Wiltshire worked closely together to create a concept and computer drawing of the proposed area. The area had to be completely fenced in, with wire extending down into the ground about 2’ under the fencing to deter active bunnies from digging out. A solid gate had to be built to allow egress for humans. After many iterations and hours of effort by Palin and Iris, and a review by bunny volunteers, the plan was presented to the Shelter. The Shelter and its Board supported the idea!
Now came the challenge, raising funds for the materials and building. A Santa Fe estate sale was organized by Palin with the help of many volunteers. Our items for sale were vetted for value and the pricey item donations kept coming in. The sale was held last August in the Aldea community just outside of Santa Fe. The sale was a huge success and we raised adequate funds for the building of the enclosure! The Shelter Director, Dr. Steketee, even donated latillas from a building project at her home.
The Shelter maintenance staff used heavy equipment to level the area and remove rocks. They then built the coyote fence and, agreeing with our suggestion, dug down about 2’ to place wire under the latillas to prevent digging out. A sturdy gate was built, again reinforced with wire to prevent any escapes! The entire building project took about 8 weeks.
Needless to say the Shelter bunnies show their appreciation with binkies galore. We use x-pens to divide the area when more than one bunny is in the outdoor area. The rabbits are always under close supervision by the volunteer on duty as the area is right outside the bunny room.
The Shelter even included the outdoor area as #4 in their 2018 Impact Report: “#4 With the help of our dedicated rabbit volunteers, a new outdoor yard was built for our rabbits exercise.” And, at the Shelter Volunteer Appreciation event on April 13, the bunny volunteers, led by Iris on this effort, received the Creative Achievement Award.