Jack in the Bag is a special needs bunny owned by Desiree Hurley. Jack recently visited some sites around Upshur County and has been spotted at the Smallest Chapel and the Pringle Tree. Jack’s owner hopes to raise awareness of caring for special needs bunnies. / Photos courtesy of Jack in the Bag Facebook Page

Jack’s journeys: Follow north-central West Virginia’s special needs bunny as he explores the Mountain State and beyond

BUCKHANNON – Hop on over to Facebook and follow the adventures of a new furry friend!

Jack in the Bag is a pet rabbit who’s a local advocate for special needs bunnies and recently, he has been spotted all around Upshur County.

Jack’s owner, Desiree Hurley, explained how she came to be Jack’s owner and a little bit about this special bunny.

“My fiancé works for the county and the animal control officer at the time [in Lewis County], received a call about a domestic bunny running loose,” Hurley said. “This was right outside of the city limits of Weston, and they discovered that the bunny was dragging himself.”

Hurley, who keeps indoor bunnies at her home in rural Lewis County, was contacted about adopting the injured rabbit.

“At the time, I decided to take the rabbit, and then thought I could possibly rehome him at a later date,” she said. “My fiancé brought Jack home, and he was paralyzed.”

Hurley said Jack is a paraplegic, meaning his paralysis affects the lower half of his body, including his back legs.

“I do not know what caused it, but my best bet would be he was abused – but there is no way to tell – he had some bruises and scratches on him, but he could have been hit by a car,” she said.

After taking Jack into her home, Hurley said they were traveling more than two hours for veterinary care.

“Jack has multiple fractures and as he healed, I had to put a diaper on him – and I cut out a hole for his tail,” she said. “As he was more and more active, he was getting rug burns from dragging his legs, so my fiancé’s father came up with the idea of using a Crown Royal bag as a drag bag for Jack. It helps protect his legs.”

Hurley said when she and Jack travel to bunny events, everyone is amazed by how easily Jack gets around despite his challenges.

“I ended up starting a Facebook page and other social media to be able to show people that a bunny or any animal can have a happy, wonderful life,” Hurley said. “Because of having to take close care of Jack, when we go on trips or overnight vacations, he has to come along with us. His Facebook page now has posts [of places] he visits and I try to provide pictures and videos of his adventures.”

Hurley said she and Jack hop from here to there, and he has probably been where no other domestic bunny has been – including all over Upshur County and even Niagara Falls.

“He has been to the highest point in West Virginia – mainly on the eastern side of the U.S.,” she said. “He visited the Pringle Tree and the Smallest Chapel and a cemetery.”

Photo courtesy Jack in the Bag Facebook page

Having a rabbit as a pet is a lot of work, and Hurley said most people don’t realize how much time it takes.

“My very first bunny was not litter-trained, and it was a lot of work,” she said. “They are able to be litter-trained. They also need to be spayed or neutered to help ward off the possibility of urine cancer.”

She said rabbits are very interesting creatures to watch. For instance, Jack will hop up in the air and sometimes zoom and zigzag through the house.

“Bunnies are very affectionate and if they have a bond mate, they will groom one another,” she said. “Jack actually treats me like his bond mate – he is my only bunny who will sleep with me in the bed or take a nap. He licks me and grooms me like another bunny. They are very affectionate and loving and each bunny has their own unique personality. They are quiet.”

According to Hurley, house-kept bunnies eat Timothy hay, veggies including kale and green lettuce, parsley, cilantro and a little bit of cabbage.

“They really do not eat that many rabbit pellets,” she said. “They are decent weather predictors (much better than a groundhog – no offense to French Creek Freddie). In the winter or in the summer, if there is a significant weather incident on the horizon, bunnies begin to eat a lot more and begging for more food.”

Keeping rabbits is attractive to Hurley because she does not have children.

“I think at one time I saw a 20- or 30-pound bunny, and it interested me,” she said. “I have had pets like hermit crabs or tarantulas – I have never been a traditional type of pet owner. I received my first bunny on my birthday and got my second rabbit a month later. Having rabbits as pets is unique; there is a bigger challenge in keeping them, and they are more fun.”

Keeping bunnies is also a long-term commitment. Hurley said the Guinness Book of World Records says the oldest bunny kept in captivity lived to a ripe old age of 16.

“I have a bunny who will be 11 in August,” Hurley said. “If they are well cared for, spayed and neutered and have regular vet visits, they can live between 10 and 12 years.”

“Jack is probably four or five years old,” she said. “They live longer than what people think.”

Hurley said she wanted to stress that even special need animals, especially bunnies like Jack in the Bag, are capable of living a full and happy life.

“My goal and attention of Jack in the Bag’s social media is to show that he is having the time of his life,” Hurley said. “I hope to show information on how to care for special needs bunnies.”

“I want to promote some of the neat places to visit around West Virginia as well promote knowledge of special needs bunnies,” she added. “Through Jack, I hope to encourage others to visit West Virginia and check out all we have to offer. There are so many things our state offers.”

Editor’s note: Since My Buckhannon originally spoke with Desiree Hurley, Jack has visited a few additional places, including Pricketts Fort, Snowshoe, Philippi and Coal County Putt Putt. “He also made the Weston Democrat newspaper last week for participating in a pet show at the insane asylum,” Hurley said. “He plans on visiting the Weston glass museum soon. We like to support local businesses and organizations along with neat places that are off the beaten path in WV.”

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