Don't buy live bunnies, chicks, ducklings or other traditional Easter symbols as pets at this time of year. Instead, purchase stuffed toys or candy, the Humane Society urges.

Most children don't know how to handle or care for baby fowl or rabbits, which often become the victims of unintentional but nevertheless cruel abuse, society Executive Director Gene Baierschmidt says.Animals that do not die from mistreatment within a short period of time often grow up with special environmental and dietary needs. Few people are willing to make the special effort required to provide proper care for them, he said.

National statistics show that an estimated 30 percent of all pets purchased for Easter die within the first few weeks, with another 60 percent to 70 percent being abandoned or turned in to shelters.

"That means that almost the total number of Easter animals purchased for this holiday are dead by the end of the next month. It is not a very positive way to commemorate an event that's supposed to be a celebration of life," Baierschmidt said.