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One Green Planet 2016: "Baby Rabbit Rescued After Being Terrorized For Weeks"

Newsday, September 2007: "Rescue groups see rise in rabbit abandonment"

Associated Press Online, September 2007: "Rabbit Problem Multiplying Like Rabbits"

Massapequa Post, September 2007: "Who's dumping rabbits hare in Massapequa Preserve?"

The New York Times, October 2007: "Groups Alter Tactics With Rise in Abandoned Pets"

Newsday, March 2001: "Lending Rabbit Owners an Ear"


Read about Savannah's
rescue and the work we do
in an article in
One Green Planet here.


Rescue groups see rise in rabbit abandonment

(September 28, 2007) Newsday

People have been dumping domestic rabbits on parts of the South Shore, a practice that seems to have increased in recent months and one that often leads to the deaths of the rabbits, according to animal control experts.

Dozens of the furry creatures have been spotted this month in Massapequa Park, Seaford and Amityville, in particular, according to Nancy Schreiber, a volunteer for the Long Island Rabbit Rescue Group.

Earlier this month, a man in a white sedan was seen leaving 20 rabbits in a box near a bike rack at the Massapequa train station before driving away, Schreiber said. The Nassau County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, which responded to calls about the incident, is investigating.

"It sounds like someone is raising rabbits and trying to get out of the business," said Gerry McBride, who handles criminal complaints for the Nassau SPCA.

Domestic rabbits often are confused with the brown cottontail rabbits people see at local parks, Schreiber said. Domestic rabbits—which can be black, white or spotted and often are unable to survive in the wild—have been found in places ranging from Hempstead Lake State Park to various spots in Seaford to a colony at Northwest Elementary School in Amityville.

"I would say we're getting more and more calls. It's become a real problem for these animals," Schreiber said. "It's a pity for them because they die such horrible deaths."

Schreiber's rescue group is offering a $5,000 reward for the arrest of anyone dumping domestic rabbits.

When left alone in the wild, domestic rabbits often are killed by raccoons, parasitic disease or starvation. The rabbits found by the rescue group typically have been very young and infested with fleas, ticks or maggots, Schreiber said.

Often, parents buy rabbits as pets for their children, who "get sick of them quickly," she added. Schreiber said after the animals are rescued, the few that survive are adopted. "It takes us six to eight months to adopt them," she said. "They're breeding and dying constantly."

Copyright © 2007, Newsday Inc.


Rabbit Problem Multiplying Like Rabbits

(September 2007) ASSOCIATED PRESS Online version

MASSAPEQUA PARK, N.Y. (AP) - Animal rights activists are hopping mad because they can't find the wascals who've been dumping domestic wabbits all over the place.

People have been dropping the cute furry pets on roadways, in parks and near school grounds on the South Shore with increasing regularity in recent months, animal control experts said. Earlier this month, a man was seen dumping 20 rabbits in a box at a train station and driving away, Long Island Rabbit Rescue Group volunteer Nancy Schreiber said.

The domesticated rabbits often can't fend for themselves in the wild and end up starving to death or being killed by raccoons or diseases.

Many of the rabbits found by the rescue group have been young and have been infested with fleas or ticks. They've been treated, fed, cleaned and put up for adoption.

The Nassau County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals was trying to figure out who was responsible for dumping the cuddly critters, and the Rabbit Rescue Group was offering a $5,000 reward.

Gerry McBride, who handles criminal complaints for the SPCA, said, "It sounds like someone is raising rabbits and trying to get out of the business."

Copyright © 2007, Associated Press


Who's dumping rabbits hare in Massapequa Preserve?

(September 2007) Massapequa Post Online article

Dozens of rabbits, too young to survive on their own, are being dumped at various locations in the area, including the Massapequa preserve and open areas in Amityville . Now police and local volunteers are asking for the public's help in eliminating the problem and apprehending those responsible.

"Since August, we have rescued approximately 20 rabbits from Seaford and the preserve near the Massapequa Railroad Station," said Nancy Schreiber, a volunteer with the Long Island Rabbit Rescue Group (LIRRG). The group is offering a $5,000 reward for the arrest of anyone responsible for the bunny dumping, which has also been reported in Hempstead Lake Park and Franklin Square.

Schreiber said other dumped rabbits have been trapped and rescued from an Amityville schoolyard, Hempstead Lake Park and Franklin Square.

Police and the LIRRG theorize that the rabbits are coming from one or two sources; they are being dumped either by a local breeder or breeders or by individuals who purchase them as pets, and then find themselves with litters of rabbits that they don't want.

 "Individual rabbit owners may not realize that domestic rabbits cannot fend for themselves," said Schreiber. "When they are dumped, they become victim to diseases, accidents, exposure and starvation."

One disease to which they are susceptible, fly strike, is an infestation of maggots on the body that can literally eat them alive. It is a torturous death for these animals, said Schreiber.

The large number of abandoned rabbits can also be the result of dumping by irresponsible breeders. Since rabbits reproduce prolifically and increase their numbers quickly, some breeders could be overwhelmed and dispose of the rabbits rather than spend money on feeding and caring for them.

In addition, the rabbits being dumped could also be breeders' "rejects" who are the wrong color or size or who have a defect.

Schreiber said that the rabbits they catch that are sickly are "humanely" put to sleep. The healthy rabbits are fostered, sometimes for years, until they find loving homes.

Many of the rabbits caught recently are likely from a breeder, said Schreiber, because they have a similar appearance and genetic defect: one raised ear. They are also all white or brown or a mixture of the two.

The Nassau County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals is also concerned with the situation.

 "This animal cruelty case is as serious as the dog that was set on fire in Suffolk County a couple months ago," said Det. Matt Roper who is currently investigating the matter. "We have some leads that we are looking into, including eyewitness statements, that we hope will lead to an arrest and jail time."

In one incident, a white male driving a white sedan was seen leaving some rabbits near the Massapequa train station on September 1.

Anyone who abandons a rabbit can be charged with a felony, said Roper.

But the problem also needs to be addressed through education, said Schreiber.

 "There is a terrible rabbit overpopulation because many people buy them for their children," she said. "They either lose interest in them or the animal has one or more litters because the pets aren't neutered. People should know that rabbits live for a long time, about 12 years, and require care; that being said they make wonderful, loving pets."

 "I can't imagine how any animal feels when it's been tossed away after knowing a home...even if it was just the warmth of its own litter mates," said Kathie Rokita, a rabbit lover from Massapequa and a member of LIRRG. "Its almost certainly giving them a terrifying death."

Anyone with information on the abandonments, or who would like help rescue them is asked to call the Nassau County SPCA at 631-781- 2052 or to the L.I. Rabbit Rescue at 516-510-3637.

Copyright © 2007 Massapequa Post


Groups Alter Tactics With Rise in Abandoned Pets

The New York Times (October 14, 2007)

THE number of illegal pets and abandoned animals on Long Island has increased so much in recent years that animal groups are adjusting how they respond.

Recent cases of abandoned animals have gone beyond cats and dogs. They have included a box of young rabbits left at the Massapequa train station last month and a 3 ½-foot alligator found in Wading River.

The Long Island Rabbit Rescue Group was founded about a year ago to address the problem of domestic rabbits — which cannot survive on their own — abandoned and running loose on Long Island. The group has about three dozen rabbits in foster care, including a dozen from the train station.

The alligator, which was found by two boys last month, was the 15th one that the Suffolk County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals had handled within the past year. It is illegal to own alligators in New York.

But the society is handling cases of many other types of exotic animals, and the number has tripled over the past few years, said Roy Gross, the Suffolk County group’s chief executive director. He said that in the past year the society had dealt with 112 exotic animals, including electric eels and an ornate golden baboon spider. The spider, Mr. Gross said, had half-inch fangs and could jump three feet.

The society has adjusted its training of volunteers to include classes on recognizing and recovering dangerous reptiles and other nontraditional pets.

The additional training is affecting the bottom line of the nonprofit agency, which is operating in the red, Mr. Gross said. The county societies run on donations and a small fraction of the fees generated from dog licenses. For the Suffolk County group, Mr. Gross said, the license fees generate about $19,000 a year. Its annual budget is $200,000.

The Nassau County society also offers training in handling exotic animals but has not had as many incidents as Suffolk, said James M. Dunn, its assistant chief.

What Nassau County does have too many of is abandoned domestic rabbits, a different species from the cottontail rabbits native to this region. High numbers of domestic rabbits have been found in Massapequa, Seaford and along the Seaford-Wantagh border, said Mary Ann Maier, an educator for the House Rabbit Society, who helped found Long Island Rabbit Rescue.

 Domestic rabbits are susceptible to parasites and can be killed by predators or the elements. “Domestic rabbits don’t do very well in the wild,” Mr. Dunn said, “and it’s a painful, slow death.”

The Long Island rabbit group grew out of Rabbit Rescue and Rehab, the New York City chapter of the House Rabbit Society, after rabbits were breeding in large numbers at a Massapequa home and then escaping and being killed by vehicles.

 Together, the city and the Long Island groups receive daily reports of domestic rabbits in need, Ms. Maier said, adding that there have been sightings at every park on Long Island.

The Long Island Rabbit Rescue, which also educates owners about rabbits, spent a large portion of the summer rounding up domestic rabbits at the Massapequa Preserve. Mr. Dunn estimated that 50 to 100 rabbits had been dumped there in the past year.

“Even in a seemingly manicured park, the rabbits will still perish really quickly,” Ms. Maier said. “It’s inhumane.”

Early last month, a volunteer for Long Island Rabbit Rescue was near the Massapequa train station and found a box of bunnies — some too young to be weaned — that had been abandoned. About 15 rabbits were rescued, but two died right away.

An investigation is continuing, Mr. Dunn said, and the Long Island Rabbit Rescue is offering a $5,000 reward for a tip that leads to an arrest. In New York, abandoning an animal is a misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in prison and a $1,000 fine.

 Animal groups urge pet owners who are overburdened to contact the agencies. If the pet is illegal, they say, it should be turned in. An owner who turns in an illegal pet faces only a violation and a fine, Mr. Gross said, but an owner who abandons an illegal pet may face criminal charges.

 “I can’t stress enough that it’s not fair to the animal,” Mr. Gross said, “it’s not fair to the public, and it’s not safe.”

Copyright © 2007 The New York Times


Lending Rabbit Owners an Ear

BY DENISE FLAIM | Animal House | Newsday
March 27, 2001 (online version)

MARY ANN MAIER looks down at the issue of Victoria magazine spread open on her kitchen counter. "This is what I hate to see," she says, gesturing at the glossy page, where an adorable little girl sits just so in a lavender gingham dress. Maier, an ad-agency art director who lives on Nassau's North Shore, isn't objecting to the layout. Her concern is the furry creature nestled adoringly in the picture-perfect girl's lap.

It's a bunny. And this time of year—with spring in the air, Easter around the corner and twitching noses beckoning from pet-shop cages—rabbit owners like Maier say that pastoral picture sends all the wrong messages.

Maier owns three rabbits. All are house rabbits, meaning they don't live in outdoor hutches, where their chances for human interaction would be curtailed. Maier's first bunny, Beezle, hopped into her backyard in summer 1998. At first, she thought he'd be fine living the al fresco life, especially with her all-night buffet of a vegetable garden. But when some Web surfing landed her at www.rab bit.org, she found out otherwise: "A raccoon will eat him, or he'll be run over by a car. All of a sudden, I realized he's not fine living in suburbia."

Maier's mentor in all things rabbit is Mary Cotter, president of Rabbit Rescue & Rehab, the metro New York chapter of the House Rabbit Society, a national rescue and education group. In a "light" year, says Cotter, who is based in Westchester, she gets more than 1,000 phone calls—many from parents who think rabbits are a perfect low-maintenance starter pet for kids.

She tells them otherwise.

"Unfortunately, there's a very strong association between children and rabbits—if you look at children's literature, it's replete with it," says Cotter. After multiple bedtime recitations of "The Velveteen Rabbit," she adds, "many parents come to think of a rabbit as a cute, animated stuffed toy."

But in reality, rabbits are prey animals, with seemingly endearing habits—like sitting perfectly still when picked up—that are more about survival instinct than cuddliness. Once its terror abates, the rabbit starts to struggle. In the predictable aftermath, the child often gets scratched or bitten, and the rabbit not only gets dropped, but sometimes severely injured.

"A lot of parents think rabbits are short-lived pets," says Cotter. "But they have a lifespan of seven to 10 years—the same as some breeds of dogs. With rabbits, people don't run themselves through the same set of considerations they would with a cat or dog: 'What will we do at vacation?' 'Do we have a rabbit-savvy vet?'"

Mary Ann Maier's kitchen is a good example of the kinds of concessions rabbit owners make for their floppy-earred charges. Wisps of grass hay—hay-eating is a constant activity, to maintain the gastro-intestinal tract and keep teeth worn down—dot the floor where Beezle and his companion Bloop spend the day, darting into an overturned cardboard box and tunnel-like toys made of untreated willow.

Though the rabbits are housebroken, rooms in which they roam need to be "bunny proofed," which includes covering electrical cords so they can't be nibbled. "You can't care about your furniture too much," says Maier; she favors round-legged chairs, since rabbits like to chew on right angles. Although it should be so obvious as to go unsaid, spaying and neutering are a must.

Maier likes to say Beezle, with his perfect markings and chocolatey eyes, looks as if he was made by Walt Disney. If that's so, she continues, then Tim Burton created Bloop: Before Maier adopted her from a Glen Cove shelter, the 2-year-old rabbit was attacked by a Rottweiler, leaving her with shredded, mutilated ears—Edward Scissorhands on a bad day.

Maier's youngest and newest rabbit, Maarty—he's a Dutch rabbit, and that looks like a Dutch spelling—was found wandering in Whitestone. Of the three, year-old Maarty is the friendliest, happily accepting a stranger's pats and executing a "binky," which Maier describes as "a rabbit joy leap."

Maarty has yet to join the kitchen enclave, because Maier is still introducing the newcomer to the established pair. Periodically, she has bonding sessions. In a technique learned from Cotter, "I stand there with sneakers on my hands." When it comes to biting, a mouthful of Nike is better than a mouthful of Maier.

As for Cotter, she will spend the end of next month in a similarly defensive stance-albeit metaphorically—as the post-Easter calls begin. Rabbit dumpers need not dial 914-337-6', because the House Rabbit Society's priority is saving shelter rabbits from euthanasia. Adoption inquiries, however, are always welcome.

"Rabbits are a fantastic pet—for the right person," says Maier, retrieving another handful of hay from the box she has shipped from Nebraska. Maarty, hopping out of sight behind an armchair, would doubtless agree.

Copyright © 2007, Newsday Inc.