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Gainesville Rabbit Rescue raises funds for disabled bunny

Hercules was given his name not for his physical strength, but rather his resilience.

“We wanted to give him a strong name to help him,” Gainesville Rabbit Rescue director Kathy Finelli said.

When Hercules first arrived at Gainesville Rabbit Rescue, his prognosis wasn’t good. He couldn’t stand on his own, had no control over the left side of his body, and was infected with worms. But the non-profit doesn’t euthanize its rabbits unless it has done everything it can, so it began to treat him.

The organization has provided Hercules with different types of treatment, from massage therapy to acupuncture. It has gotten him X-rays and ultrasounds, and even his own custom-made wheelchair. And while all of this has helped Hercules improve his health and gain the ability to stand, he still doesn’t have the ability to move freely.

The next step in Hercules’ journey is to get a CT scan to help determine why he can't walk. The CT scan will take a deeper dive than an X-ray, gathering almost a 3D image of his body, and could discover issues that haven’t been spotted before.

But even for rabbits, medical bills are expensive. As a result, Gainesville Rabbit Rescue has started a fundraiser in Hercules’ honor to “help him hop again.”

“It will help to pay for the CT scan and future medical for him,” Finelli said. “And he’s gonna need a lot of medical care no matter what.”

The organization’s goal is to raise $2,000 by the time Hercules has his CT scan appointment, which is slated for late October. Fortunately, they have some help in doing so.

The Blackadder Brewing Company has selected Gainesville Rabbit Rescue to be its charity of the month for September. It hosts several special events throughout the month, such as bingo nights and live concerts, to raise money for the selected charity. This month, the money is going straight to Hercules.

“Even though it’s a brewery, it’s very family-oriented,” said Finelli, adding that it’s a wonderful place to visit.

According to the local brewery’s Instagram, you can get a free 5-ounce beer when you donate to the non-profit through their company.

In total, Gainesville Rabbit Rescue is currently caring for about 55 rabbits. This includes the rabbits that stay in the rescue center and the rabbits in one-on-one foster care, like Hercules. With such a big operation, the non-profit relies on support from the community and from its volunteers.

Michael Wilhelm and his wife have been volunteering at the center for a little over a year. He works directly with the rabbits and also does repairs around the center when needed. Wilhelm said he is constantly learning new things.

“This week we learned about handling baby rabbits. That was something that I've never experienced.”

Both Wilhelm and his wife love rabbits. He said that his experience volunteering with them has been nothing short of empowering.

“You see these little sweeties come in, and some of them are really rough, and almost always they turn it around and they become friendly and they go to these homes.”

As for Hercules, the staff and volunteers at Gainesville Rabbit Rescue are determined to see him turn things around. They are going to make sure they do everything they can possibly do for him, and after that, put him up for adoption.

“What we always say is we will fight for him as long as he's fighting for himself,” Finelli said. “And he has not given up on himself, so we're not ready to do that either.”

People interested in donating to Hercules can do so through the Blackadder Brewing Company or through the organization’s website at

Mariana is a reporter for WUFT News who can be reached by calling 352-392-6397 or emailing