Nearly a year after police rescued more than 100 bunnies from a Gowanus backyard, some of them are ready to be adopted, authorities said, as the criminal case against the woman who kept them is set to go to trial.
Since being rescued, several of the bunnies have had babies and the number of adoptable animals is up to more than 200, cared for by St. Hubert's Animal Welfare Center in Madison, New Jersey, and the Ani-Care Animal Hospital in Dallastown, Pennsylvania.
"I've been involved in animal rescue for over a decade, but this is the most mentally, physically and emotionally draining situation I've ever been involved in," Johanna Hanlon, the practice manager and head technician who oversees the rabbits' daily care at Ani-Care, said in an email. "These rabbits have been waiting a long time to be in a loving home and we hope people can help us spread the word that they are available for adoption now."
In January, police seized about 180 rabbits over the course of two different days -- one of which was during a blizzard -- and charged the owner, Dorota Trec, with keeping the animals in poor conditions and not feeding them.
Trec has said she kept the animals to benefit the neighborhood and that they were fed. Attorney information for Trec was not immediately available.
Her trial is scheduled to start next month.
Now, about 50 of those fluffy bunnies, some of them babies born after the fact, will travel to the city on Saturday, ready to find a home. Two of those young rabbits are Bill and Eddie, an inquisitive, bonded pair of brothers who love to play and cuddle.
Rabbits tend to be happier with the right pair and that friendship can, in turn, foster better habits. And two are often no more work than one. But bonded pairs are often hard to adopt out, Hanlon said.
"But how can you separate two animals who love each other?" she said. "Rabbits are social with the right partner. They love and groom and grieve for each other."
Another adoptable bunny is Levi, a sweet older boy who had a few visible scars and is looking for a home to retire in.
"Levi may be more mature and not be the fanciest-looking rabbit, but age and looks aren't everything," Hanlon said. "He is a little nervous, but we are confident [that] in a loving home his personality will shine. I always encourage people to base their adoption decision on a bunny's unique personality."
Hanlon said rabbits are not "starter pets," and can live up to 10 years. They can be litter-box trained and enjoy playing with toys as well as running up and down a hallway. Some can even have free range of your bunny-proofed home in the fashion of a cat or dog.
And a cage isn't always necessary -- a penned off corner of a room works just as well or better in some cases.
Rabbits come with their own challenges: their systems are very delicate, so their eating habits need to be watched carefully (they should be fed unlimited hay, as well as a limited amount of pellets and fresh vegetables). They also need to be taken to a rabbit-savvy veterinarian.
The two adoption events, in partnership with the ASPCA, will take place on Saturday, Dec. 12 from noon to 4 p.m. at the Central Park Zoo entrance and in Union Square (in front of Staples). All the rabbits will be spayed or neutered and have an adoption fee of $25, which includes a cage and a water bottle (but they like drinking out of bowls as well).
Anyone interested in adopting should bring a photo ID and a proof of residence.