“I just love this program and when I got an email about it I just thought, ‘Oh this is so good! Such a good idea!’

WCCO CBS Minnesota
Jason DeRusha, Newcaster

“I love that they give away so many books.  They gave away more than 600 books and stuffed bunnies last year.  There is just something really special about having the child read to the bunny.  It just makes it a little nicer.  Some of the kids can be afraid of therapy dogs cause a lot of these children have had pretty traumatic lives so the bunnies are nice and calm for them.”

WCCO CBS MN, Accomplish with Kylie
Kylie Bearse, Newscaster

“Some of the other partnerships like Junior League and the Bunny Besties help us facilitate more educational programming as well that we wouldn’t be able to do with just our staff.”

People Serving People
Emma Juon, Educational Director

“Bunny Besties visit residents on our memory care unit each month.  Nothing I say by the way of introduction comes close to conveying the interest and enjoyment that residents have for the bunnies when they arrive.  Residents who have said they are not interested are drawn right into watching, petting, and marveling at how soft, cute, and calm the bunnies are.  The bunnies owners interact thoughtfully with residents at all stages of Alzheimer’s and other dementias.  I heartily recommend inviting Bunny Besties to visit your elderly loved ones.”

Mount Olivet Homes
Heather Furgeson

“I first met the Bunny Besties when they were a brand new team and they came to the University of Minnesota PAWS program where I showed up as a brand new transfer student. I was not transitioning to my new city and school very well and as a result I was extremely lonely and depressed. Meeting Jennifer and her bunnies absolutely changed my life. I finally had something to look forward to each week and started to make friends. Bunny Besties had such a profound impact on my life that I decided to join the team as a volunteer so I could pay forward the love I was given!”

University of Minnesota PAWS Program
Mackenzie Hanson, Student

“You would be amazed at the excitement of the children when they realize that it is Bunny Bestie day – they literally can’t get through the lobby and up to the second floor without being engulfed in children.  This excitement not only fosters a positive relationship between the child and the bunny, but it also fosters a positive relationship between the child and the book. Reading with a bunny also gives that child a sense of security. The child doesn’t have to feel intimidated if they come across a difficult word,or if the book they feel comfortable reading is below what society says should be that child’s reading level- they can just read – without any judgment. Bunny Besties does a phenomenal job at creating an atmosphere that is calming and feels safe for the child.”

People Serving People
Anna Rysavy, Educational Coordinator

“A big thank you to Bunny Besties for bringing their therapy rabbits to our Adult Program in Golden Valley at the Courage Kenney Rehabilitation Institute.  Rise team members and the people we served were ecstatic to get some one on one time with the bunnies and watch them run the agility course.  We are thankful for our partnership with the Bunny Besties and can’t wait for their volunteers and rabbits to come again!”

Rise, Inc.
Zoe Leonard-Monrad, Volunteer and Recruitment Coordinator

“I looked in the eyes of those bunnies.  They gave me straight love.  I could spend my life with the bunnies.  The bunnies made me happy.”

Rise, Inc.
Susan S., Daycare resident

“The bunnies are very calm and very soft.  A lot of our children who stay here have lives that are somewhat chaotic so the bunnies really are an opportunity for that little piece of calm.”

People Serving People
Gwen Campbell, Development Director

“The fall of 2014 was a very difficult semester for me having just transferred to the University of Minnesota.  Everything was new and somewhat overwhelming.  One of my first friends (and soon to be best friend) at the UMN invited me to PAWS, knowing we had a love for animals in common.  It was incredible to see the dogs, but soon I entered the bunny room.  This was special.

Though more often than not there were more humans to rabbits week to week (impressive considering there were more than 5 registered rabbits at a time), the bunnies provided an opportunity to sit, relax, and take time to get to know the person next to you.  Week after week, the people I met at first kept coming back and became like a family.

They became my understanding community in an overwhelming world of stress, pressure, and development as a college student.  I will forever be grateful for what Bunny Besties had done at PAWS for me and for all the students who come through the doors of Boynton Health.”

University of Minnesota PAWS Program
Clare Kramer, Alumni

“Thank you so much for organizing your volunteers and coming in today.  Your rabbits were a hit here at the Minneapolis Public Library with both patrons and staff.  I have a feeling we will be talking about this event for a long time.”

Minneapolis Central Library
Chris Ruiz, Librarian

“The rabbits are soft and loving.  I felt good grooming Winston and I knew he did too!”

Rise, Inc.
Deb M., Daycare Resident

“We have the good fortune to have Bunny Besties come to visit us at Meadow Woods. The bunnies come and visit three floors of our residents, older adults with dementia and I cannot say enough. When the residents see it on our calendar they are very excited.

The bunnies are cute, adorably soft and the bunny handlers, volunteers and are kind, considerate and work very well with our population.   You here them saying “This bunny really likes you” and the resident starts glowing with pleasure.

I am always pleased when the bunnies have come because the residents are contented and calm.  I wish I could show you the smiles.”

Meadow Woods Assisted Living Center
Jessica Blum MS CTRS, Memory Care Coordinator

“Having the Bunny Besties at People Serving People has been a wonderful experience. The kids adore the bunnies, and not a day passes without several questions about when we can expect to see them again! Therapy animals can have profound impacts on the people they serve, and this is certainly true for all of us at PSP. Our kids gain useful life skills during every visit with the bunnies, especially when it comes to trust and peacefulness. The bunnies are soft, small, gentle, and sweet, and the kids get so much joy from loving and cuddling with animals that they find welcoming rather than threatening. The mental health benefits of snuggling up with a book and a furry friend are beyond compare, especially if your furry friend also happens to be a Bunny Bestie!”

People Serving People
Elizabeth Machart, Tutoring Associate

“The bunnies are beautiful and so well behaved.”

Rise Inc.
Natalie W., Daycare Resident

“When our Volunteer and Development Associate came to me with the opportunity to bring bunnies to our programs, I was skeptical.  I did not have much exposure to bunnies and was surprised that they could be trained as therapy animals.  Looking back, I am so glad I didn’t turn the opportunity away.  The bunnies have been an amazing addition to our programs not only building literacy skills by encouraging interactive reading and practice, but empathy skills as well.  The children are so gentle with the bunnies and form close bonds with them.  They are excited when the bunnies come to read with them and anxious for them to return.  It has become a consistent presence at the shelter, so that even among the fast-paced constantly changing nature of PSP, the bunnies will be there for the kids to look forward to each week during their stay.”

People Serving People
Bailey Erickson, Education Services Coordinator

“The Bunny Besties that came to visit were terrific with the residents.  The rabbits were so sweet.  The residents reactions were priceless…of course, some were easier to react than others.  One resident who has not said more than one word at a time for months said, “Where did you get that?”  Not just once but – Two Times!!!!  Thank you Bunny Besties, we hope you will come monthly to visit us.  It is truly a gift to our memory care residents.”

Select Senior Living
Nancy Larson, Activities Director

“As a previous camp counselor for the Animal Humane Society.  I had many visits to our camp from the therapy rabbits.  It was one of my favorite activities as well as the kids!  They loved seeing rabbits do agility because this is something you would not expect from a rabbit.  The children could hardly contain themselves waiting to pet all the rabbits afterwards.  The rabbits were so well-behaved and GREAT with many small children around them.  The kids had a wonderful experience with rabbits as well as learned a ton of information about rabbits and the proper care of them.”

Animal Humane Society
Kaylee M., Summer Camp Counselor

“Thank you so much for visiting with our residents at Masonic Homes.  Your rabbits do a wonderful job and you have a great gift for working with the residents here as well.  Thank you for the beautiful bedside visit yesterday with Margie by her favorite bunny.  She passed away yesterday evening a few hours after you left.  I am so glad she got to hold that bunny one more time.”

Minnesota Masonic Homes
Kelly Malloney, Director

“The kids just love rabbit agility day!!  Learning about owning a rabbit is one of their biggest take-aways from the week.  Thanks again volunteering with us and coming in with the bunnies.”

Animal Humane Society
Jina S., Summer Camp Counselor

“I was a patient at Golden Living Center in Wayzata, MN for three months.  That was after being in the hospital for one month after a horrific car accident.  I was bed ridden for two and a half months.  It is hard to keep your spirits up when you can not see an end in sight.

There was daily entertainment for patients but I was just too sick and injured to be interested.  Then my daughter Jennifer said she was having an event in my honor for my birthday.  I could not really say I would not go.

I had not understood what Jennifer, Gunnar and their friends were doing with their rabbits.  I honestly never paid that much attention.  I had no idea the impact that these fur balls had on people.

I asked my younger grandsons to come too and now realize we were going to be making a family memory.  The turnout was shocking, but the residents reaction surprised me even more.  They all had the biggest smiles on their faces and obviously enjoying every moment.  One of the patients said to me that this is the most fun event I have ever been to here.

I watched as many residents in their wheelchairs had to be coaxed to give up the bunnies that were visiting on their laps.  The event entertained people of all ages.  My two younger grandsons were mesmerized at the agility show and interacting with the bunnies.

There were about 30 bunnies on hand that night with about 20 volunteers.  One thing I enjoyed was how different all the bunnies looked.  There were lots of children that had come to be with their loved one and their faces were all smiling.  It was my first event and it opened my eyes and heart to what Bunny Besties mission really is.  The love in the room that night was palpable.

Jennifer continued her service throughout the summer by bringing the therapy rabbits to their Alzheimer’s unit once a week.  People who had absolutely no expression or life in their eyes suddenly came back to life.  I am constantly in awe of Jennifer and Gunnar’s commitment to bring joy to the world.”

Hillcrest Golden Living Center
Kathy Smith, Former Resident

“I have known Jennifer and Gunnar for several years.  We met in the Rabbit Agility Class under the supervision of Barb Kelley (via MCRS).  I was instantly drawn to both mother and son for their enthusiasm over rabbits.  I was working with my first bunny “Truffles” and Gunnar was working with “Piper.”  The rabbits were our best teachers and eventually we all made it through several levels of agility.  I was drawn to Jennifer and Gunnar’s positive attitude in class sharing the same enthusiasm I had for this species.  As our relationship grew, I realized there was a deep well of caring in both of them.

As the Therapy Animal Trainer at the Animal Humane Society, I encouraged them to consider doing therapy work with their rabbits as there is much more “demand than supply” in the communities we live in.  It didn’t take much, as they both had a passion for visiting and helping others already, even though life has been a bit of a rugged roller coaster for this family.

I was humbled by their strong desire to help others no matter what.  They took the time and care it takes to train and register, several of their rabbits with the national therapy animal group called Pet Partners.  After that, they continued on by getting certified in R.E.A.D. (Reading Education Assistance Dogs) program which also accepts other species of Pet Partner registered animals.

They have really made a difference in other people’s lives!  We have crossed paths visiting together with our rabbits at numerous nursing homes, including the Mission Home (all men), at an at risk teen program, reading with children at libraries and at the Rabbit Fun Fair at AHS, plus many more venues.

I am humbled by how young Gunnar is and his deep sense of caring about others.  At his age I was worried more about when the next dance was than helping in the community.  Gunnar and Jennifer have future plans to really impact young readers that are in need.  They will also continue to visit the elderly and educate others about rabbits.  I plan on supporting them in making this world a better place, although they have made a big difference already!”

Animal Humane Society
Patti Anderson, Therapy Animal Trainer, Pet Partners Evaluator,
R.E.A.D. Minnesota Instructor