We've been planning and preparing for over 18 months to be able to protect rabbits from the foreign Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease. Our first of many orders of the RHDV2 vaccine has now arrived from the manufacturer -- the most expensive box I've ever purchased. For perspective, it costs even more than when I bought another big box: the SS Peacebunny houseboat way back in 2018.
PREVENT THE PREVENTABLE
Ironically, another box paid for THIS box -- the writing of my memoir called Peacebunny Island provided funds for my rabbits' care and is now providing this needed protection for them too. Unlike dogs, rabbits never needed vaccines in the US, until now. And we couldn't get it -- until now.
Back before buying vaccinations was even a thought in my mind, I had committed 100% of my 2021 book royalties to care for the rabbits that inspired the book and our mission - a book that I was writing long before the virus outbreak in the Southwest United States had begun in early 2020. During the book launch spring 2021 we continued to watch the encroaching map of RHDV2 cases emerge and our family hoped that we'd never see it here locally. I saw a photo of a young boy in Phoenix saying goodbye forever to his rabbit before it was euthanized, and that was it. We needed a plan and perhaps others could be saved too.
Since 2020 it felt like I was charging up a hill and waving a flag that few wanted to acknowledge because it was "over there." I hoped I would be wrong, but that's why I started contacted vaccine companies, imploring them to manufacture one here in the USA, and started my big push get the word out. Slow Forward: Over 900 rabbits are now registered for our vaccination clinics set up through the Peacebunny Foundation - first this weekend in the Twin Cities and then next week in Rochester MN.
PAYING IT FORWARD:
We prepay for the vaccines and supplies and staff for a mass vaccination clinic. Then when the pet owners pay for their vaccine tickets, the money goes back into our foundation to pre-pay for more vaccines, gowns/gloves, syringes at other sites. Some limited overflow tickets are still available by rolling admission for these first clinics because we planned for 1000 rabbits. www.RHDV2.com
An aside: I must admit it felt pretty wild when I reserved and rented an airplane hangar at Fleming Field where the mass clinic is being held this weekend. WOW.
I truly feel like God entrusted me with these financial resources for this specific purpose, even before I'd even heard of this disease. God's good that way, taking care of the ones that can't provide for themselves, the most vulnerable. We get the blessing to be the hands and feet that bring it together.
GREAT GRANDMA OREO Yesterday Oct 27, 2021 we starting vaccinating the rabbits that remain safely tucked in quarantine at the Peacebunny Cottage where they will remain until at least December. Earlier this month we so disappointed to cancel all of our remaining 2021 senior home visits at our contracted sites, but know that we need to do whatever we can to protect the rabbits during this outbreak just like we try protect our human loved ones through COVID. We long to be together again, but for now, this is our reality. I'm sad to now need to quarantine from my own rabbits --but if I'm out in public helping with vaccination clinics, I won't be able to feed, water and visit with the Peacebunnies for awhile. I'm so thankful for Jacob and other volunteers who are stepping up to manage the Cottage for us for awhile.
It seemed appropriate that Great Grandma Oreo, my very first rescue rabbit, would be my very first bunny to be saved AGAIN, the first of the Peacebunnies to get the RHDV2 vaccine. This foreign disease is nearly 90% fatal within hours of being exposed, and with the first case confirmed in Minnesota this month, it was time to roll out the detailed vaccination plan.
The MN Board of Animal Health approved the Emergency Authorization Use of the RHDV2 vaccine by Medgene, (now the only vaccine available in the United States because the USDA no longer allows the emergency importation of the vaccines from Europe).
Yesterday we began our vaccine process at Peacebunny Cottage with a visit from Dr. Megan Schommer, culminating what has been in the works since midwinter 2020 - nearly 18 months. I can't believe the virus is here in Minnesota, but so grateful that the vaccines are finally here too. Pretty surreal.
The only thing I know for sure felt real was a snuggle from this special little spotted lady who has been such a sweet friend to people over the years. One of my closest furry friends. I'll miss our time together after school each day, but I can't risk transmitting the virus to the Peacebunnies I'm out helping with others' rabbits over the next month. They need to build up their immunity now. So a final snuggle before our time apart.
LOOKING FORWARD TO SHARING THE BUNNIES AGAIN Peacebunnies in our outreach programs are selected because they have a calming temperament who ride in wagons, who frequently choose to go with us to visit people during some of the most difficult times. They always get the choice to go, and then the right to "opt" out during a program at any time. They are trained out on the island during a "summer camp" style program, lying with us in hammocks, then advancing to staying on tables then ultimately riding in wagons. It's an enjoyable process for them and for us out on the main 22 acre Peacebunny Island -- demonstrating a hard day's work for both of us. Ha. Like Periwinkle, our gentle friends will all be getting their shots in batches over the next week. They have done so much for others.
I'm just so thankful for those who have bought the book and read it, gifted copies to others and who have donated to our foundation over the years, partnering with us in so many ways.
THANK YOU for joining us on this journey. Hugs to you all. - Caleb