Criss Mort has acquired the nickname Crazy Bunny Lady over the years as she maintains a bunny sanctuary at her home in Belvedere.
About 12 years ago, she had an ailing rabbit she was not able to save. After that experience, Mort became determined to save as many other rabbits as possible, so she started Bunny Haven.
During the process, they also saved her when her only daughter died.
“They help me too,” she said. “I couldn’t stay in bed. We help each other out.”
Her bunny adventures started when she randomly bought one at a pet store.
“I was one of those bad people,” Mort said. “I bought a bunny and didn’t know anything about them.”
She joined the House Rabbit Society and quickly learned that they aren’t just cute little Easter gifts, and that they can be indoor pets.
Mort said about three weeks after Easter is when there is an influx of bunnies that have been abandoned, and that’s because by six months of age their attitude changes.
“By the time they are six months old they are like teenagers,” she said. “They get cranky and start nipping people. (People) don’t realize if they just get them spayed or neutered they would stop.”
Mort provides a safe haven to rabbits that are not adoptable for different reasons, such as mental and physical problems. About 20 rabbits roam the house in four rooms that have been set up for them.
“I have one room left that’s not for the bunnies,” she said.
It’s a thrill to work with bunnies and cure them of their attitudes, she said. Mort talked about a grey bunny named Stanley and said that everybody was terrified of him at the rescue that she got him from in Richmond County.
“When he was neutered, it changed the attitude,” she said. “Usually, rabbits like this are just euthanized. I’ll take them and turn them around.”
She also has a rabbit that came from an abusive situation that led to an investigation that discovered the children in the home were being abused.
“Sometimes in animal rescue, children are saved as well,” Mort said.
Mort originally took bunnies from veterinarians and other rescues, but she only accepts them from veterinarians now.
“I’d retire but there’s nobody to take my place really,” she said.
For the Love of Rabbits, based out of Petco on Washington Road, does accept bunnies that are adoptable, she said.
Mort said the bunnies eat better than she does and go through 100 pounds of pellets monthly, plus salad, fruit and vegetables.
“People joke with me in the grocery store and say I have some good stuff in there,” she said. “I say, ‘Yeah, the Coke is mine.’”
She has been rescuing animals since she was young and has had guinea pigs, ferrets, lizards and parrots. She was even bitten by a baboon while feeding one at a park in Florida.
“Once you have been bit by a baboon, there is nothing a rabbit can do that can hurt that badly,” she said.
For more information about Bunny Haven, visit “Bunny Haven Sanctuary” on Facebook or call (803) 257-6101.