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Little kids, little critters a bad mix

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HIGHLAND — Furry bunnies and fluffy ducklings are undoubtedly very cute. But most animal-rights advocates and pet store owners say folks should think twice before putting them in a child's Easter basket.

Tiny chicks become big chickens, and small ducklings start to quack loudly and leave unsightly droppings on the floor.

And parents should do the math about rabbits — they multiply. Then, after the novelty wears thin, the animals are taken to the shelter or abandoned at parks.

Utah County's animal shelter director sees it happen every year at Easter.

"We get three or four — at least — during that next week," said Grant Ferre. "People think they're buying a stuffed animal. They need to be responsible. It's irresponsible to buy a couple of chickens for your kids and think you can just dump them off later."

Sometimes, the animals are sold in Easter colors. But John Paul Fox, an investigator of the Humane Society of Utah, says it is illegal in most communities to dye young animals.

Salt Lake County has a cruelty ordinance that makes it a Class B misdemeanor to dye animals under 6 months of age. "The ordinances are basically to get rid of the practice of selling these baby animals as pets to small children who are too young to take good care of them," he said.