This no-kill shelter describes itself as the largest domestic rabbit sanctuary in Arizona. At its Scottsdale location, volunteers focus on the physical and emotional well-being of the animals, with each rabbit receiving designated play time each day. Tranquility Trail is open seven days a week so that visitors can meet rabbits and learn how to properly care for them.
Ted Simons: Maricopa County ranks second only to Los Angeles County when it comes to pet overpopulation. Most people think of dog and cats when looking at the issue of unwanted pets, but as producer Christina Estes and photographer Juan Magana show us, there's another animal that often needs help.
Kelly Ames: When we created this, we wanted to create something that was a cheery place, a happy place.
Christina Estes: That place is Tranquility Trail, a sanctuary for domestic bunnies.
Kelly Ames: That's Gigi, and she's our youngest bunny. She's four months old.
Christina Estes: Kelly Ames and her volunteers care for 75 bunnies at the Scottsdale Shelter.
Kelly Ames: Sadly we do have a one-year waiting list of people who want to surrender their rabbits. Rabbits are the third most surrendered animal in the shelter system. And they're very few resources for them.
Christina Estes: Sometimes they get rabbits directly from people who no longer want them. And sometimes bunnies are just dumped outdoors, like baby Gigi.
Kelly Ames: She was abandoned in a shoe box with no food and no water, with sick baby bunny written across it.
Christina Estes: Gigi is doing well now, and so is Fred. But it's taken a while.
Kelly Ames: He had to have an eye removed, he had abscesses, he's had respiratory issues. But he's always been the happiest little guy.
Christina Estes: They rescued Fred and many others from a woman who didn't even know how many rabbits lived in her back yard.
Kelly Ames: She thought she had about 40 when she called us, so when we got there, we were a bit surprised that there were actually 107. But three of the girls were pregnant and had 25 babies between them two days after we got everybody here.
Christina Estes: That was more than three years ago. And they still have nearly 50 rabbits from that rescue.
Kelly Ames: A lot of these bunnies have come from places where people haven't been very kind to them. So, it's our job to teach them to trust people again. And as a prey animal, it does take a little longer for bunnies to trust new people.
Christina Estes: Kelly never rushes adoptions. She stays focused on finding the right family for each rabbit.
Kelly Ames: Some are super active, some are more couch potatoes, some are really needy, some are more independent.
Christina Estes: Like this one, named Bianca.
Kelly Ames: A.K.A. Diva. She's queen bee. She just wants to do her own thing.
Christina Estes: Christine Martin visits Tranquility Trail twice a week. She volunteers to feed the rabbits and clean their rooms.
Christine Martin: I'll give them new linens or blankets. I'm actually one of the bunny's new interior designer because I like to decorate his home very special, depending on the day and, you know, how he's feeling that day.
Christina Estes: This self-described cat lover says bunnies have a calming effect on her.
Christine Martine: I'm definitely a bunny person now for sure.
Christina Estes: The bunnies are all litter boxed trained and can run around the house just like cats and dogs. Their daily exercise includes an hour a day in one of eight play areas.
Christine Martin: Every time I come here and I walk through that door, it is the most amazing experience for me. The compassion, the love, and the peacefulness that I feel when I'm here it just makes me so happy.
Christina Estes: Kelly wants others to feel that way too. That's why Tranquility Trail is open to the public seven days a week.
Kelly Ames: We have so many people come in, just to visit. They've just been driving by and they're curious as to what we do. And by the end of their visit, they almost always say, wow, I didn't know bunnies were so smart, or so fun, or I didn't know they had such personality. And I think once people start to see that, things will change for them.
Ted Simons: Tranquility Trail offers a summer camp for kids and volunteer opportunities for everyone. You can find more information at their website, tranquilitytrail.org.
Tomorrow on "Arizona Horizon," hear from the state Attorney General Tom Horne on allegations that he broke campaign law. And find out about Downwinders, people impacted by nuclear tests in the 50's and 60's. That's Tuesday evening at 5:30 right here on "Arizona Horizon." That is it for now. I'm Ted Simons. Thank you so much for joining us. You have a great evening.