St. Francis of Assisi and Bambi the Rabbit


I love animals. Kids and animals are probably the two groups I get along with the best! So, a couple of years ago, when my siblings and I wanted a pet, a rabbit was all my mother would agree to (we have another sister with other pet allergies).

Maria, Anthony, and I went to the only shelter I could find with rabbits, the Baltimore Humane Society on Nicodemus Road. They have a whole room for small animals. Mostly there are rabbits there, but occasionally they get other small animals such as hamsters, guinea pigs, mice, and rats.

Now, let me say that adopting a rabbit is not as simple as adopting a cat or dog. The volunteers and employees who care for the rabbits at the shelter make sure you have everything you need at home first before you can bring your new rabbit friend home; that includes having a cage of the proper dimensions.

We were blessed to adopt Bambi when adoption fees were 50% off; that made his adoption fee a mere $25. And with that, Bambi was welcomed into our home in March 2010. (By the way, we couldn’t find a cage big enough, so we bought a dog pen. Bambi has plenty of room to run around he loves to stretch out!)

What does St. Francis of Assisi have to do with Bambi the rabbit? Across the Archdiocese of Baltimore, many families will bring their animal family members to church for a pet blessing in honor of St. Francis, known to be a friend to the animals. Without a car, I’m not sure how that’s going to work for us logistically, but I love the traditional pet blessing. It’s a reminder of how important it is to treat God’s creation well and be the best caretakers possible.

And in the spirit of taking care of God’s creation, I made a promise to Bambi when we brought him home: I promised him that I would never bring into the house any product that had been tested on animals. Rabbits are often a target of product testing, especially cosmetics, but I knew I couldn’t look at Bambi everyday, use a product tested on animals, and know that there were rabbits and other small animals who weren’t so blessed.

I have no illusion that Bambi actually knows what I said, but I do, and it’s a promise I have worked hard to keep. In fact, when I tell people Bambi is the reason why I don’t buy products tested on animals (among other reasons), they are very understanding.

Bambi is now three years old and still likes to play around and play tricks on me. When I’m home during the day, Bambi and I have lunch together (“mealtime” as I call it) and I keep his company since he’s not in my room. Rabbits don’t really make noise, so I have to rely on visual clues of ear position and body language to figure out what’s going on in his head.

I am also pleased that the small kids in the neighborhood have taken such an interest in Bambi. They love to come and see him, but like it more when I bring him outside. The kids don’t get to see a rabbit like him very often, so I’m happy to oblige.

St. Francis was known as someone who cared deeply for people, the planet, and animals. I should only pray I can also be an effective advocate for God’s creation, all of it.

Catholic Review

The Catholic Review is the official publication of the Archdiocese of Baltimore.