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About The Rabbit Haven

Rabbit Haven Mission

The Rabbit Haven was formed to achieve the following goals:

  • To educate the public all about rabbits, including their care, diet, grooming, medical and social needs.
  • To provide rescue, shelter, medical care, foster care, and spay/neuter services for abandoned and endangered rabbits.
  • To place rabbits into permanent, safe, loving, indoor homes.

The Organization

The Rabbit Haven is a 501 c3 non-profit educational organization, a project of AVA. We are a member of the Bay Area Shelter Network, Northern Cal Rabbit rescue network, The Watsonville Task Force as well as a variety of other community groups. The Haven works with rabbit education and support groups, such as The House Rabbit Society, Harvest Home and many others. We work with a network of veterinarians who supply the Rabbit Haven with vital, up to date information. We are an all volunteer organization. We have no paid staff. The Rabbit Haven cares for about 100 rabbits at any time through our foster site networks. Our foster network is the core of our operations. The Organization is funded by individual donors and grants. We have no City, County State or Federal funding.

The Rabbit Haven rescues abandoned rabbits and accepts surrendered rabbits from the general public, from shelters and from other rescue organizations in the counties of Santa Cruz, Santa Clara, Sonoma, Sacramento, San Benito, Yolo, Contra Costa, and Monterey, and San Mateo. The Rabbit Haven works in the community, at schools, with shelters and with other education groups to provide education on rabbit care, feeding, grooming, medical, social and behavioral needs.

Heather Bechtel, Founder and Director of The Rabbit Haven, began working with rabbits and other animals in 1958. Her family was involved in the medical field and provided much needed help and education to her in these early years. Heather has been involved in animal care (especially medical care) and rescue since that time.

HeatherAboutTheHaven1.jpgHeather comes from a medical and business background with a strong focus in non profit program development and management. She founded the Rabbit Haven in 1987. At that time, a special bunny entered Heather's life causing her to focus on the needs of rabbits. She credits Bernstein (Bernie) with inspiring her to learn as much as possible about the care and needs of rabbits and to share that information with other people. Bernie was injured, sick and needed so much help when she found him. He required a high level of support to help him survive. She found that it was very difficult to find much information at all to help him. In the process of finding the medical care he needed, she realized that there was a profound lack of material regarding rabbits and their proper care. Few veterinarians that she contacted even knew how to care for rabbits. This situation concerned her. She realized that this lack of care information was a serious problem that was keeping many rabbit caregivers from being able to care for their rabbits. Rabbits were in trouble. They lacked the most basic care. In addition, very few people knew how to care for rabbits and had limited (if any) services available. Heather decided to make every attempt to remedy this troubling situation.

Bernie's plight led her to the formation of The Rabbit Haven, a (Haven) where rabbits could receive sanctuary, care, support and have the chance to find loving homes of their own. In addition, the Rabbit Haven Education Center was designed to help educate the public and shelters about rabbits and how to care for them.

Heather connected with other education groups and gathered documents needed for the public education. She dedicated a good portion of her time to taking calls, answering questions, and attending TV and radio shows to discuss the needs of rabbits. She began developing a vet list, care guides, basic information packets. Then she began referring people to rabbit care providers and offered animal shelters and schools education support as well. It become clear that shelters were inundated throughout the year with abandoned rabbits who were dumped on their doorstep or often tossed out after various holidays. It seemed that the public had no idea what rabbits are or what wonderful companions they could be. She discovered that most people did not know about the basic needs of rabbits.

Heather_Bernie (1).jpgShelters also needed assistance to learn more about the special needs of these gentle animals, so she began to volunteer almost full time at a local shelter. At the shelter, she was able to provide a greater level of help and to bring about some permanent changes. She also launched the Rabbit Haven public education campaign. This information was well received and the public was very interested in learning all about rabbits. Children at schools and at various children's camps were also eager to learn about house rabbits. There finally was a safe place (The Rabbit Haven) for people to learn about rabbits and also a safe Haven for rabbits who required shelter, support and eventually a home of their own.

The Rabbit Haven is dedicated to Bernie, the little Dutch bunny. Through the love of one bunny, Bernie, thousands of rabbits have been saved from needless deaths at shelters and people have grown to understand the nature of rabbits, and the care and support they require. Bernie lives on in the powerful work of the The Rabbit Haven and its projects that continue to expand and evolve.

Contact Us

The Rabbit Haven
(831) 600-7479 or (831) 239-7119
PO Box 66594
Scotts Valley, CA 95067