When Milo Dippel turned 10, he asked his parents for a pet. Initially he wasn’t sure what he wanted but after seeing Cinnamon at a pet store, he knew he wanted a rabbit. A few years later, a friend of a friend decided to give up their rabbit, Pepper, so she moved in, as well.
Pepper is still a bit aloof, but Cinnamon has really bonded with Milo.
Eighth grade student Milo loves all small animals, but he has a special affinity for rabbits. So when he saw a video at Shelburne Community School about a Youth4Youth grant, he decided to apply.
Milo proposed to provide a foster home for rabbits in need of adoption.
“It took about a day or so to process the idea,” he said, “but it came fairly quickly because it was something I wanted to do and it was a way for me to be helpful.”
Forty-three other students applied, but Milo won the $3,000 grant.
Milo and his family got three rabbits from Homeward Bound, the Humane Society of Addison County. The rabbits, named Belle, Ariel and Snow White, were white with red eyes. That posed a problem because Milo said people thought the red eyes indicated they weren’t healthy – which wasn’t the case.
Two were adopted after a couple of months, and the remaining bunny more recently found her forever home.
At summer camp Milo rescued a rabbit, Maple, that was going to be killed – now Maple is also about to be adopted.
All the animals, except for Maple who had been an outdoor rabbit, stayed inside but made occasional visits to an outside enclosure.
Milo, 13, used to do gymnastics but has taken a break from that. He enjoys snowboarding and plays the drums in two school bands: a drum kit for the jazz band and a snare drum for the symphonic band.
He worries about rabbits that get adopted or purchased on a whim at Easter because people may not realize how much is involved in their care.
“You have to brush them more often than you would dogs and cats,” he said, “and they need a couple of hours of attention every day.”
Milo said rabbits can live between eight and 13 years, with most breeds living up to 10 years. He leaves hay out for his rabbits at all times and feeds them pellets and greens in the morning, with the occasional treat thrown in.
Just like cats, rabbits can be trained to use a litter box. “You have to see where they pee the first time,” Milo said. “It might be where they shouldn’t but if you move the litter box to that spot, it’s where they’ll go. If you make sure they know there’s a place, they’ll go back to it.”
Milo says rabbits are able to show affection. When he gets home from school, he sits on the couch with Cinnamon and she snuggles with him and licks him. Milo wants to continue fostering rabbits, but at this point he doesn’t believe he needs further grant funding, because he has all the things he needs.
More importantly, he’d like others to take up the cause as well.
He would like to do this again, and “I’d also like to see other people fostering rabbits. It’s a very rewarding thing to do.”