Photo by Wizemark via Stocksy
This week, Mike Pence became the second Republican politician to make news for bringing a domestic bunny on a plane. Is this safe for rabbits? For democracy? Broadly investigates.
In some ways, a bunny is a pet that only a lunatic would choose to have. Rabbits typically do not like new people very much, they can drop dead literally from getting too scared, and they shit more prolifically than one could ever imagine. It makes sense, then, that Vice President-elect Mike Pence, the Vaping Congressman, and myself are all rabbit owners.
Yesterday Pence tweeted a photo of his grimly beaming family on Air Force One, clutching their pets: two cats and a terrified looking rabbit, who is apparently named "Marlon Bundo." In related news, last week it came to light that Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.), who is perhaps best known for vaping during a congressional hearing, had listed $600 in campaign expenditures "for in-cabin rabbit transport fees"—presumably, a personal seat for his domestic lagomorph.
The revelation about Pence's status as a rabbit person rocked the House Rabbit Society, an extremely active and notably intense group of rabbit owners on Facebook. "On one hand I'm happy there's a First Bun," one user wrote. "On the other hand WHY DOES IT HAVE TO BE MIKE PENCE." Another put it more bluntly: "Having a rabbit doesn't change the fact that the man is a literal piece of shit."
We are but one GOP politician away from "airline travel with a domestic rabbit" becoming a trend, and alongside the potential reputational damage to the rabbit community, other concerns have been raised: Logan Jenkins, a reporter at the San Diego Union-Tribune, argued that the disclosure of Rep. Duncan's rabbit expenditure was "political stagecraft" meant to "soften the blow of a potentially damaging report" from the House Ethics Committee report revealing over $60,000 in personal or improperly documented campaign expenses.
"We go ga-ga over rabbits," Jenkins argued. "We're just wired that way." This is a fair, if not fully scientifically substantiated, point; Marlon Bundo similarly had the unfortunate effect of making people approve of something associated with Mike Pence, a sentient peeled potato cleaved in the pits of Hades and released into this world to sow discord and suffering.
However, there remains another issue, one that I raised to my coworkers several times over the past week. "I would never take my rabbit on the plane unless I had no other option," I told them repeatedly, as they became increasingly bored and annoyed. As mentioned earlier, bunnies are notoriously skittish and susceptible to dying for basically no reason. They're also very sensitive to loud noises, like the roaring of a plane engine or the ruthless private cackling of a man who's plotting to strip countless people of their basic liberties. For this reason, it seems as though being on a plane with a Republican legislator would be detrimental to a rabbit's health and wellbeing.
The House Rabbit Society did not return my request for comment, but this is a subject they have covered extensively. In one article on their website, entitled "To Fly or Not to Fly," Beth Woolbright argues, "If your stay will be less than a month, then the stress of a plane trip—for you and your bunny—probably isn't worth it." (Presumably, Mike Pence is going to be in Washington, DC, for over a month, but there's no way of knowing the duration of Rep. Duncan's trip, nor of the Republican politicians who may follow in their footsteps.)
According to the House Rabbit Society, flying with a rabbit "could compromise their health—or worse. Even bunnies accustomed to car travel will find flying weird and scary," notes Woolbright, adding that rabbits show stress by "getting diarrhea, by becoming withdrawn or aggressive, or by refusing to eat their alfalfa pellets." If you must fly your rabbit, make sure it is comfortable and try to ensure that it can travel in the cabin with you, she says—which, to be fair, both Pence and Duncan did.
Is there a trend of Republican politicians being overly cavalier with regards to rabbit air travel? It's hard to be sure, but, at the very least, we can comfort ourselves with the idea that Mike Pence is at risk of coming into contact with diarrhea from a small domestic creature.
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