Example: [Collected on the Internet, 2005]
Is there really a guy holding a rabbit ransom at savetoby.com? It says he rescued the rabbit and is threatening to eat it unless he receives
Origins: At the beginning of February 2005, we began receiving
Bunny lovers everywhere can once again breathe easily: savetoby.com is a hoax. Although the site now lacks a disclaimer, a visitor to it on
- The premise of the threat ("Send money or I'll kill the rabbit") gives away the jest. Society regards rabbits as one of the more disposable pets: every year thousands of bunnies end up with Humane Societies or animal rescue groups because their previous owners very quickly proved unable or unwilling to care for them. While rabbits do make fine pets, they also require veterinary care (including one-time spaying/neutering and annual vaccinations against disease), specialized diets, and reasonably large indoor cages, all of which represent a
level of commitment many who vaguely thought they might like to keep a rabbit or two are generally unaware of at the time of adoption. Also, despite their resemblance to plush toys, rabbits do not like to be held, petted, or carted about, which means those who think they're taking on animal companions they can hug and squeeze to their hearts' content discover only after the fact that the sort of critter they thought they were bringing into their homes isn't at all what they ended up with. Consequently, any number of cute, fluffy pet bunnies are unceremoniously turned loose outdoors (where they live, on average, for three days), killed by their owners, or are handed over to animal shelters and rescue groups.
The "Save Toby" jape swings upon the notion of this particular rabbit's cuteness, inspiring folks to pry open their wallets to the tune of
$16,380.18 . . . ina world where rabbits are regarded as worthless and animal shelters can't find donors to support their work.
- The 'Balance:' figure which purports to showcase the amount already extorted (located near the bottom of the site's main page in a section labeled 'Premium Account Overview') was an imitation, not a real counter. It was periodically altered to increase the number displayed so as to maintain the appearance that folks were actually chipping in to preserve Toby's life. (The account that was used to accept monetary donations was eventually shut down by PayPal.) As of
1 March2005, the amount shown was $16,380.18.
Bernd was previously scheduled to become someone's
That same rabbit appeared on www.savefluffy.com, yet another 'bunny in peril' site that promised a future as rabbit stew for the pictured lagomorph unless its owner received $1,000,000 by
Those truly moved by the plight of Toby, Bernd, or Fluffy should consider donating a bit of their spare cash to their local animal shelters or rescue groups, entities that all too often have bunnies dumped upon them by those who have decided they can no longer be bothered to keep their pets, or to rabbit-specific groups such as the Rabbit Rescue and Rehab of New York, Tidewater Rabbit Rescue of Virginia, and Zooh Corner.
Barbara "bunny money" Mikkelson
Last updated: Not surprisingly, when Toby's scheduled execution date of
| On Keeping Rabbits as Pets |
(House Rabbit Society)
Lewis, George. "Fur Flies Over Rabbit Death Threat." MSNBC.com. 11 April 2005. Segal, David. "'Save Toby' Site Draws Rabbit Reactions." The Washington Post. 18 March 2005 (p. C1).