GRAVESEND - Animal shelters say the number of abandoned rabbits in Brooklyn is increasing, and advocates are urging pet owners to not leave their unwanted bunnies outside.

Shelter volunteers say rabbits are the third most commonly abandoned animal. They always see the number rise around Easter, when people leave unwanted Easter gifts in the park.

Dr. Jill Caruso, a veterinarian at the Faithful Friends animal hospital in Gravesend, says people assume rabbits can live outdoors and will leave them outside. Caruso says domestic rabbits are used to being fed and cared for, so they quickly die in the wild or turn into food for predators.

PJ McKosky, from the Empty Cages Collective, says potential pet owners need to remember that rabbits are as much of a commitment as a dog or cat. People looking to give up a pet rabbit are advised to bring them to a shelter or rescue, where they can be adopted out.