Bunny's Custom Wheelchair Has Her Back On Her Feet


Just like any other bunny, 9-year-old Bebe has a good appetite and chows down on Timothy grass, carrots, apples, broccoli, romaine lettuce and bananas. But there’s one thing that sets her apart from your average hopper: because of a rare condition that rendered her immobile, she runs around Kathy and Charles Harris’s Louisiana house in a custom made wheelchair.”I know she is in no pain and seems quite comfortable in the cart,” says Kathy, who lives with her husband in rural Ponchatoula. “Her ears come up, and I see the stress on her legs is gone.”

Bebe easily hopped through life for most of her younger years. Adopted by the Harris’s about a year after they retired, Charles surprised Kathy with the 6-week-old pet that he bought at a local pet shop. They named her Bebe, and she quickly fit in with the couple who have no children and lived on a two-acre property surrounded by bucolic wooded areas.”We both fell in love with her,” Kathy.”She would run all over our lawn and have a ball then come back at night and sit with us on the couch and chairs.”

But about 2 1/2 years ago, Kathy noticed that Bebe’s front legs were spreading out and it was harder for her to get around.So they took her to an area vet who specializes in birds and exotic species. Dr. Greg Rich told her that Bebe had a rare condition called “splay leg” that he had only witnessed once before. More unusual is that this issue is normally found in newborn rabbits, not in those as old as Bebe, who was 6 1/2 at the time.

“The vet said that he only treated one other rabbit with this condition,” Kathy says. “When he consulted with other professionals, including people at Louisiana State University, they agreed it was rare and that surgery was an unpopular option.”

In fact, all the animal specialists they contacted agreed that surgery had more downsides than positives for rabbits. It could cause respiratory problems, so no one recommended it.

Bebe soon lost complete use of her front legs. Just seeing her struggle was quite upsetting to the couple. She was too old to be braced, and her prognosis looked bleak.

“We just love Bebe to pieces, and we didn’t know what to do to help her,” says Kathy. “We wanted to do something to improve her quality of life.”After doing some research, the vet contacted a company in Bozeman, Mont., that makes wheelchairs for dogs with disabilities, as well as for other animals like goats and mini horses. The company rep asked the vet for Bebe’s measurements so they could create a suitable cart. They agreed on a quad support chair.

“The cart has two swings in it and lifts her little body up,” Kathy.She had to learn to use her back legs but she seems to love her wheelchair.”

Bebe’s quality of life has greatly improved. She scoots around in the cart at least two times a day and then sleeps in the den of their home in front of the fireplace, which she loves during the colder months. She watches television with the couple and overall is a happy little rabbit.”Bebe has brought such joy into our lives, and although we can’t bring back her active lifestyle of years past, we are thrilled to provide some improvement in her quality of life at this time. She is so adorable.”



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