The story of E.A.R.S. starts with a little fluff of black. On a chilly fall day in November of 2012, Linda Jones saw a post from Erie Animal Network that there was a loose domestic bunny running around a Nissan car dealership. She drove up to the dealership and saw the sweetest little black bunny hiding underneath a Nissan Juke. Linda sat down right next to the Juke and talked to the bunny. He was scared, and didn’t want to come out.
Linda didn’t give up. She visited the bunny every day for weeks, building a relationship with him. She named him “Jukie”, and used his name often while talking to him. He looked forward to her visits and grew to trust her.
On Thanksgiving day, after saying goodbye to him, she left an apple under a nearby tree.
The next day, Ron Steger saw a post on Facebook about a bunny running loose at a car dealership. He drove up to the building but couldn’t find the bunny, so he stopped into the showroom to get some more information about where the bunny was spotted. One of the employees said, “Some kooky lady has been coming here and trying to catch the bunny for weeks!” He heard a car drive up, turned around, and saw a lady with a big smile on her face and knew it had to be her. They chatted and instantly connected over their love for bunnies and their very important mission to catch the car lot bunny.
When Ron told Linda that he couldn’t find the bunny, she called out Jukie’s name, and he came out, saw her, and ran to the same nearby tree that she had left the apple under. He was hoping for another treat from his human friend!
Ron rushed home, grabbed some x-pens (small metal gates), and hurried back to the car lot. Meanwhile, Jukie led Linda to his woodpile that he liked to hide under, and she talked to him to make him feel safe. Ron surrounded the wood pile with an x-pen, allowing them to finally capture him and bring him to safety.
Linda brought Jukie home, and has had him ever since – their first rescue.
This was the beginning of everything. From then on, Ron and Linda had a shared dream of creating a community of bunny owners, providing education, and rescuing abandoned bunnies. They started small – in a tiny warehouse on Peach Street, with no electricity or running water. In the summers, they cooled the bunnies off with frozen water bottles, and in the winter they brought in a propane heater to keep the buns warm. They slowly built up a team with a common goal – to rescue, rehabilitate, and rehome bunnies.
In 2014, they bought the bright pink building on West 38th Street. It took a lot of work to convert the dress and tailor shop to a rabbit rescue, but it was well worth it. It came with enough land to build a bigger building alongside it to house more bunnies, a hay shed in the back, and a gazebo for exercising. If you drive down West 38th Street today, you’ll still see that bright pink landmark that draws you in and the cute, fluffy creatures that make you want to stay. Stop in and say hi next time you pass by! You may just make a new furry friend.