ROGUE RIVER — A homeless man's Monday morning search for empty bottles and cans led to a happy ending for a local preschool whose mascot was bunny-napped overnight last week.
Amos, a beloved pet rabbit of Great Beginnings Preschool, was found by Ralph Rodan of Rogue River. Rodan had been looking in the Rogue River library's garbage for cans and bottles about 8:45 a.m. when he heard noises coming from another receptacle. He looked inside to see.
"There was a cardboard box in it, and it was wiggling," Rodan said.
Rodan opened the box and found Amos, a mini black satin rabbit who had been missing since Wednesday. The box also had food and water inside. Amos was unharmed.
"That kind of shocked me" that the rabbit had been left in the garbage, Rodan said. "I thought it was cruel."
The pet rabbit had been taken from his backyard cage at Great Beginnings sometime between the evening of June 3 and the morning of June 4. The thieves also took Amos' water bottle, feeder and a nearby book basket. The cage had been latched but did not have a lock.
Before the theft, students took turns feeding and watering the rabbit, and also helped clean the cage.
It was the second rabbit theft from the preschool in three months. The flop-eared Stew disappeared from his cage back in March before a Rogue River resident donated Amos as a replacement. Rogue River police took to Twitter to get the word out about the missing Amos, posting several pictures and using the hashtag "freeamos."
After close to a week, the search came to an end. Rodan had heard about the theft around town and called police. Rogue River Chief Ken Lewis arrived to see.
"I was pretty sure it was Amos," Lewis said. "I mean, what are the chances of any rabbit showing up in a Dumpster on Monday morning?"
Great Beginnings director Rhonda Schock confirmed the rabbit's identity. She donated $50 to Rodan for his find.
"I just appreciate his integrity," Schock said. "(The kids) were just so excited."
Another bunny — name pending — was donated after Amos disappeared. Both will soon share a home in a custom steel-reinforced cage, mounted and secured with a deadbolt lock. Until then, the rabbits will be kept inside.
But no matter what part of Great Beginnings Amos resides in, the young students are just glad he's home.
"He's part of our family," 4-year-old Taiya Gembala said.