When we arrive in the living room, Sulli, adorable ball of fur, stands up on its hind legs, raising her wiggling nose in search of a caress. “He wants to have his dose of hugs and play,” Jarod Winston slips mischievously, inviting the little bunny to climb onto his lap. This Lyonnais, who lives in the district of Croix-Rousse, is affectionately nicknamed “The Mr. Rabbit” or “The Doctor of Rabbits” by the community that follows him. He has 12,000 subscribers to his Facebook page ”
What’s up Doc ? ».
But the man is not a veterinarian, he says straight away. Only an enthusiast who has spent years learning about his favorite animals, and who no longer counts the hours to build wheelchairs for handicapped animals or “castles” to serve as their home. “I am the manager of a wood company which renovates parquet floors, but it is true that I devote almost more time to rabbits”, he replies with a smile. Entire nights, sometimes.
Gustave, Courgette, Forrest et cie
Expert on the subject, Jarod is now the one called from all over France to save small mammals in distress. “Sometimes I get woken up at 2 am and drive 200 kilometers to get one”. Like Gustave, the rabbit with a silky coat, with one of its hind legs amputated. “When we recovered him, he was suffering from a triple femoral fracture.” Or Forrest, the last survivor to stay with Jarod. The one who “made him run for 10 days”.
“We had received reports of people having seen him in the vogue for chestnuts from Lyon, eating churros and apples. The first time, we went to look for him at the front, at 2 o’clock. We searched the bushes and scrutinized under the fairground trucks for four hours, in the middle of the refuse, ”reveals the thirty-something. Without success. The second time will be the right one. Forrest, who showed extensive cat scratch marks and had some of his fur ripped off, was found in a school yard. Since then, the little animal is slowly recovering its health, incubated by Jarod and his companion, Amandine.
Rabbits, 3rd most abandoned animals
“This is the third rabbit that we have picked up at Croix-Rousse in the space of 18 months. The first, Koda, had been thrown alive in a trash can. He was in a state of absolute thinness, ”continues the young man. Zucchini, swung over a low wall in the middle of the night, was discovered in the courtyard of a grocery store. Very badly, too. “After dogs and cats, rabbits are now the third most abandoned animals in France,” Jarod said indignantly.
At home, the couple pamper their residents with big ears. Until they get back on their feet and are adopted. The “doctor” is however demanding. “It is not a question of entrusting them to just anyone,” he explains. I impose strict criteria according to the trauma suffered and the character of the rabbit. Sometimes it takes time but it’s necessary because I feel responsible for them. “
Break down preconceived ideas
Aware that he cannot “keep them all at home”, the man sometimes makes some exceptions. “Those who have pathological disorders, who will require long-term care or for whom there is a strong suspicion of relapse, those, I keep them. It doesn’t cost me anything to get them treated, and I’m sure someone will be there to take care of them, ”he confides tenderly.
“95% of people who have rabbits are probably not aware or aware of their needs,” he continues. Feeding his Facebook page and his YouTube channel with videos, the Lyonnais tackles “breaking down preconceived ideas” and disseminates his advice independently. For example, avoid giving bread, cookies, carrots or small pieces of chocolate to rabbits, it poisons them. “A rabbit is not meant to be carried either, unless it tolerates it or is afraid. It’s not in his nature, in reality, ”he explains. Next step: the Lyonnais plans to open a boutique for pets.