LOS ANGELES (CNS) - A Los Angeles rescue group is seeking homes for dozens of domestic rabbits seized by animal control officers from what the group is calling a "backyard breeding operation."
Bunny World Foundation says the rabbits were confiscated over three separate visits by Los Angeles Animal Services personnel, beginning on April 14 and continuing April 18 and April 19.
The Los Angeles nonprofit, which has rescued thousands of unwanted rabbits from shelters and owner surrenders since its founding in 2008, says a total of 69 rabbits were taken from the home, including some babies born to two pregnant mothers at LAAS' North Central shelter.
"This was not your typical situation where things got out of hand out of ignorance of not knowing the rabbit's gestation period, which is 28 days. This was a deliberate backyard breeding operation that had been fully functioning for three years, three blocks away from the LAAS Shelter," BWF Founder Lejla Hadzimuratovic said. "I am happy we were able to assist LAAS in cleaning up this disastrous and cruel breeding operation."
Hadzimuratovic told City News Service that the house was located near the North Central shelter at 3201 Lacy St. She said the owners agreed to end the breeding operation and dismantle the rabbit hutches during one of the LAAS visits.
Los Angeles Animal Services did not respond to several requests for comment.
"It was an unfortunate situation seeing numbers of petrified bunnies crammed in filthy makeshift cages with many nesting boxes who will need a lot of TLC before they can trust humans again," said BWF's adoption manager Jane Stonnington, who was on the scene to assist LAAS.
"Once we arrived at the scene, we worked diligently to sex all the rabbits and identify nursing mothers, potentially pregnant adult rabbits and juveniles. The bunnies we encountered were mostly pregnant and nursing females. I can only imagine how many rabbits suffered in these horrific and squalid conditions, how many were slaughtered for food, and how many ended up in the wrong hands," she added.
The rescue group is now issuing an urgent plea for fosters or adopters to help re-home the rabbits.
"This impound comes during a particularly challenging time, as local shelters and parks are overrun with bunnies who have no place to go after the spring breeding and post-Easter dumping season," Hadzimuratovic said.
It's not the first time BWF has dealt with this kind of situation. The group was inundated with close to 300 rabbits last year from a home in the Mar Vista area in an effort that also involved LAAS and other rescue groups.
Rabbits are not low-maintenance pets. They require very specific feeding, and humane indoor housing in a bunny-proofed room.
A few of the basics of rabbit care:
-- domestic rabbits should be kept indoors at all times;
-- rabbits need to be spayed or neutered as soon as they're old enough (between four and six months) to avoid unnecessary breeding and to aid their health;
-- they should be fed a diet of unlimited timothy hay and a daily portion of leafy greens, plus pellets and alfalfa hay for rabbits under 6 months;
-- they should never be kept in cages, as they need room to hop around and exercise their legs;
-- they need to be thoroughly groomed every two to three months to remove excess fur and have their nails trimmed;
-- they're aggressive chewers, and need to be kept away from electrical cords and anything that can be dangerous if ingested, such as taped or glued boxes;
-- bunnies who stop eating or appear to be in pain can die within 36 hours, and need immediate care from a veterinarian trained in rabbit care.
BWF offers mentoring and a free foster program in which people care for the animals, help promote them on social media and bring them to weekly adoption events until they find a permanent home. The group can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org, bunnyworldfoundation.org or on Facebook.