Tranquility Trail Animal Sanctuary

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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: Animal welfare agencies say Maricopa county ranks second only to Los Angeles County when it comes to pet overpopulation. Most think of dogs and cats when it comes to these pets, but as producer Christina Estes and photographer Juan Magana show us, there's another furry friend that often needs help.

VIDEO: When we created this, we wanted to create something that was a cheery place, a happy place.

VIDEO: That place is tranquility trail, a sanctuary for domestic bunnies.

VIDEO: She's our youngest bunny. She's four months old.

VIDEO: Kelly and her volunteers care for 75 bunnies at the Scottsdale shelter.

VIDEO: Sadly, we do have a one year waiting list of people wanting to surrender their rabbits. Rabbits are the third most surrendered animals in the shelter system and there are few resources for them.

VIDEO: Sometimes, they get rabbits directly from people who no longer want them and sometimes bunnies are just dumped outdoors like baby gigi.

VIDEO: She was abandoned in a shoe box. With no food and no water, with sick baby bunny written across it.

VIDEO: Gigi is doing well now and so is fred but it's taken a while.

VIDEO: He had to have an eye removed. He had abscesses, he's had respiratory issues, now he's the happiest little guy.

VIDEO: They rescued fred and many others from a woman who didn't even know how many rabbits lived in her backyard.

VIDEO: 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.

VIDEO: That was more than three years ago. And they still have nearly 50 rabbits from that rescue.

VIDEO: A lot of these bunnies have come to us 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.

VIDEO: Kelly never rushes adoptions. She stays focused on finding the right family for each rabbit.

VIDEO: Some are super active, some are couch potatoes.

VIDEO: Like this one named bianca. She wants to do her own thing.

VIDEO: Christine Martin visits tranquility trail twice a week.

VIDEO: Aren't you silly?

VIDEO: She volunteers to clean the rabbits.

VIDEO: I'll give them new linens or blankets, I'm actually one of the bunnies' new interior designers because I like to decorate his home very special, depending on the day and, you know, how he's feeling that day.

VIDEO: This self-described cat lover says bunnies have a calming effect on her.

VIDEO: I am definitely a bunny person now for sure.

VIDEO: The bunnies are all litter box trained and can run around the house like cats and dogs. Their daily exercise includes an hour a day in one of eight play areas.

VIDEO: 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. Just makes me so happy.

VIDEO: Kelly wants others to feel that way, too. That's why tranquility trail is open to the public seven days a week.

VIDEO: We have so many people come in just to visit. They've been driving by and they're curious as to what we do and they say I didn't know bunnies were so smart or they were so fun or they had such personality, and I think once people start to see that, things will change for them.

TED SIMONS: And that is it for now. I'm Ted Simons. Thanks for joining us. You have a great evening.

"Arizona Horizon" is made possible by contributions from the Friends of Eight, members of your Arizona PBS station. Thank you.

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