Dear Members and Friends,
Monday, Jan. 27 would have been a good night to curl up with a blanket and watch "The Blacklist." Instead, we ventured out in frigid darkness because rabbits were suffering and we were their only salvation.
Caseyville police had been monitoring a vacant house with tame rabbits in outdoor hutches. The owner was absent and a neighbor had told officers he was caring for the rabbits. But the city's code enforcement officer went to the house four times on Monday and no one showed up with food or water. In fact, water service to the house had been disconnected. Caseyville Police Chief Jose Alvarez took one look at the photos taken by the code enforcement officer and declared the rabbits must be removed to safety. Officers contacted area agencies, but there was none that could, or would help. Only we could provide a safe haven.
So, three of us joined the code enforcement officer and a police officer at the house in a residential neighborhood. Three wire cages and a wooden hutch with compartments stretched along the side of a garage. The wire cages had no roofs; the rabbits inside were exposed to the elements. We had to pry boards and Plexiglas off the wooden hutch to get to the rabbits inside. A solitary rabbit was in a wire pen in the yard. In total, we freed 29 rabbits - 19 adults, seven infants aged 2-3 weeks and three babies, 7 weeks old. One of the cages held two live, black rabbits, two dead infants and a bowl of frozen water with chew marks in the ice. One compartment in the wooden hutch held several live rabbits and seven dead infants. The temperature was 12 degrees and dropping to a low of 5. I wondered how the babies had avoided freezing. Had the adults somehow kept them warm enough to survive?
In the chicken coop were four chickens that were severely dehydrated and malnourished, and one dead chicken. Sandie Konopelski, our member and a wildlife expert, took the chickens. Beverly Smith and I placed the bunnies in carriers and drove them from Illinois to The Bunny House, our shelter in Fenton, Missouri, where Joy and the Monday night volunteers were preparing accommodations for them. Just the day before, the garage of the shelter had been organized to make space for exercise pens for our shelter bunnies so there was space to set up crates on tables for the Caseyville bunnies. They set the furnace in the garage for 65 degrees - a good temperature to transition the bunnies to the indoors.
We had brought many females from the wooden hutch and wondered which was the mother of the seven infants. Joy knew, however, because one was producing milk. Mama and babies were placed in a crate inside the shelter where they would be warmer. Dr. Linda Beisswenger had finished a full day's work at Hope Animal Hospital but arrived to examine every rabbit and prescribe treatment. There were quite a few lionhead mixes, including the infants. All the rabbits were dehydrated and began drinking water as soon as bowls were placed in front of them. Two rabbits had ear mites; three had painful, crusty lesions on their faces and genitals caused by syphilis (not contagious to humans); three had bite wounds on the face or ears and one boy had swollen, infected testicles from being bitten, and other bite wounds. One girl had problems in both eyes and three of the infants had eye infections. Five of the rabbits went to stay the night in Dr. Beisswenger's hospital so they could be treated the next day. All the rabbits in the confiscation are young and, with treatment, they should be perfectly fine and adoptable.
Caseyville police have cited the man who said he was caring for the rabbits and he is scheduled to appear in court on March 6.
Many of you are helping the Humane Society with the bunnies confiscated from Franklin County and they continue to need your help. If you can help with the Caseyville bunnies contact Pat Daly: firstname.lastname@example.org
Type "shelter help" in the subject line.
Bless you for supporting The Bunny House. You made it possible for 29 bunnies to "come in from the cold."