Two women start rabbit rescue and foster network

Inspired by visiting Best Friends Animal Sanctuary, Jamie Noe and Frannie D'Annunzio found a rabbit rescue and foster network called Hug-a-Bunny.
By David Dickson

In 2006, Jamie Noe and her best friend Frannie D’Annunzio visited the Sanctuary for the first time. This was a trip they’d been looking forward to for long while. They had first met back home in New Jersey and soon found they had a lot in common, including a love for animals and the fact that they each had a pet rabbit. They decided to take a trip to Best Friends together. By way of background, just prior to their visit in 2006, Frannie and Jamie had rescued a local rabbit. They were able to save that rabbit’s life and felt grateful to have made a difference. Little did they know where that road would lead.

Starting their own bunny rescue and foster network

Debby and Jamie with a rabbit
Debby and Jamie

Right after saving that rabbit, they went on their trip to Best Friends and ended up visiting with rabbit manager Debby Widolf. Debby gave them ideas and strategies about how they could do even more back home if they so chose. Together, Jamie and Frannie decided to give it a go. They started Hug-a-Bunny, a nonprofit rabbit rescue and foster network and began their personal treks towards a day of No More Homeless Pets.

Their initial goal was to save a few more lives if possible. Before long, they surpassed their initial goal and kept right on going. The adoptions continued with great success. Recently, Hug-a-Bunny celebrated their 200th adoption. An incredible accomplishment!

Learning tips and tricks

Ever since that first visit, Frannie and Jamie have continued coming to Best Friends each year. "Best Friends is our inspiration," says Jamie. During their visits to the Sanctuary throughout the years, they have learned tips and tricks on fundraising, how to hold adoption events, how to make natural toys for their rabbits, and more.

Jamie and a rabbit

Hug-a-Bunny rescues around 50 rabbits a year from local shelters. They also rescue displaced rabbits and strays. They stay plenty busy! Even so, it’s not what they do full-time. Jamie is a teacher and Frannie is a vet tech. Hug-a-Bunny is all volunteers, both with Frannie and Jamie, as well as the foster network.

This year, Frannie wasn’t able to make it for the annual visit, but it all worked out in the end. Jamie’s sister-in-law Jessica Noe came instead and had a blast. Jessica helps out with Hug-a-Bunny in New Jersey and has wanted to come to Best Friends for years. She and Jamie volunteered all around the Sanctuary, no doubt picking up all sorts of new ideas to take back home to Hug-a-Bunny.

On that note, for all those out there who haven’t hugged a bunny lately and are looking for an excuse (as if you ever need one), September 26 is International Rabbit Day. So what are you waiting for? Hug away!

Learn about rabbits as pets.

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