Pet Connections

Judge’s Park Small Animal Rescue

By April Minech

Photo credits: Kim Lenz, Behind the Lenz Photography

Where can you find bunnies, guinea pigs, rats and an occasional cat? Judge’s Park! Working from her home, Jen Kilmer started her small animal rescue in college around 2004 and named it after her soul-horse, Judge Park. “I started with guinea pigs and kept getting contacted by people with guinea pigs that needed rehomed. It expanded to bunnies, and then it went crazy from there,” she says. Looking around, there were at least a dozen cages, some with paired bunnies and even a trio, and every clean cage had blankets and toys and bunnies happily nibbling hay. So, does she manage all of it herself? “Yes, all by myself”, and she laughs loud and sarcastically. “We have about 10 volunteers total, off and on.”

The animals are all up for adoption at, when you can begin the application process. “We start with an application, then a home visit,” Jen explains. “Rabbits are on par with adopting a dog or cat, as far as their needs go. They require a special diet, large enough cage and attention. They can’t go in a hutch outside; in fact, they shouldn’t be outside at all.” And bunnies are happiest when bonded, that is, sharing their life in a very intense relationship with another rabbit or two. But bonds don’t happen overnight, and it can take slow introduction and some time. “We prefer to adopt out bunnies we already know are bonded, either in pairs or trios, but people are often only looking for one,” says Jen.

To help care for the needs of the buns and other animals, Judge’s Park relies on donations and holds fundraisers. They recently entered a matching toy drive through Happy Rabbit Toys, in which they won first place in the nationwide contest. And an auction that raised $825 from supporters. At the local library, they promoted welfare and awareness to children, who brought in things to contribute. They also have a wish list online, where you can shop for the animals and donate specific items.

On average, they have 25-30 animals in their care at any given time, including foster homes. They have a few foster homes for bunnies, two that work with compromised cats, and a home specializing in rats. They also work with shelters to pull animals that may be euthanized. “We don’t take in cats as surrenders but will take ones that need extra time to heal from shelters that may be too overwhelmed to provide the added care,” explains Jen. “Bunnies mostly come in as strays. People wrongly think you can release a pet rabbit into the wild. They can’t survive; they die. When someone with bunny knowledge sees one loose, they catch it and bring it to us, or we go out and try to catch it. They’ve been domesticated for so long, they don’t have basic survival skills to live in the wild.”

For anyone considering a rabbit as a pet, Jen recommends first researching their rabbit questions at, which is the home of the House Rabbit Club. What does Jen want everyone to know? “Rabbits are not easy. People don’t realize the care that they need and think of them as a simple pet. The truth is, rabbits are the third most surrendered animal in shelters, after dogs and cats. They need to go to the vet; if they stop eating, they can die within 24 hours, Bunnies live for 10-12 years, and need attention and love. They are wonderful pets, but they are not easy.”


December 14, 2023
December 14, 2023


December 14, 2023