Case Snapshot
Case ID: 19782
Classification: Hoarding
Animal: rabbit (wild)
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Wednesday, Aug 8, 2012

County: Calvert

Disposition: Convicted

Defendant/Suspect: Carole Van Wie

Case Updates: 1 update(s) available

Carole Van Wie, the owner of Bunny Magic Wildlife and Rabbit Rescue Inc., from which more than 200 sick and injured rabbits were removed Aug. 8, was issued a criminal summons Monday charging her with multiple counts of animal cruelty.

Calvert County Animal Control, along with the Calvert Investigative Team, executed the search warrant at the Lusby rescue after the sheriff's office received a complaint July 24 from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals and removed 222 rabbits that were living in unfit conditions. Those animals were taken to the Tri-County Animal Shelter in Hughesville, where some received medical treatment and seven rabbits have since died.

The sheriff's office was contacted July 24 by Dan Paden, a PETA research associate, who said he wanted to meet with deputies, according to charging documents. At about 1:30 p.m. that same day, deputies met with Paden and PETA investigator Kerin Rosen, who had been working undercover at Bunny Magic for 10 days, deputies said.

Paden said PETA had received a complaint about a rabbit rescue on Tongue Cove Drive in Lusby, where about 400 rabbits were allegedly being housed inhumanely on the property. Rosen saw about 140 rabbits in the areas she was allowed into, charging documents state. Paden then provided deputies with notes from Rosen's investigation, a DVD with video footage and a CD with photographs taken while acting as a volunteer at the shelter, deputies said.

After obtaining a warrant, a search and seizure was executed at 9:33 a.m. Aug. 8 at the shelter. Dr. Autumn Terry, a licensed veterinarian in St. Mary's County, accompanied law enforcement in the execution of the warrant and "did a quick field assessment" of about 265 rabbits on the property, according to charging documents. About 35 rabbits in a shed appeared to be healthy and were kept in a clean environment, deputies said, and Terry recommended those rabbits be kept on the property as there were no signs of animal cruelty.

As officials went through the front door into the "main residence," they allegedly noticed "a very strong concentration of ammonia smell and had to wear masks," according to charging documents. Officials noticed a "large amount of heavy cob webs and feces on the floor from rabbits," deputies said, as well as "a large amount of mice running around inside" the cages. Deputies said it appeared the litter pans had not been cleaned in "some time."

Terry, during her initial field assessment, said of the more than 200 rabbits in the house, only five "were loose" and every cage in the house was inappropriately sized for long-term use for housing rabbits. The cages were also filthy and did not have wire bottoms to allow excrement to pass through, deputies said.

Terry, according to charging documents, said every rabbit in the house was laying in 2 to 4 inches of feces and urine, and all were infested with fleas. About a dozen of the rabbits had overgrown toenails; 50 rabbits had no hay, and 21 of those had neither hay nor food pellets; seven rabbits had no water; 24 rabbits were "visibly ill" with evidence of Pastuerellosis, which causes discharge from the eyes and nose, head tilt and lethargy; and one rabbit was found dead in its cage, charging documents state.

Due to the unsanitary conditions and lack of appropriate food, hay or water, Terry said she felt all the rabbits inside the house needed to be removed, with the exception of those in the shed that appeared to be healthy, deputies said.

Deputies said 78 rabbits in the main residence, 15 rabbits in a second room, 39 rabbits in a third room, five rabbits in a bathroom, one rabbit in a kitchen, 81 rabbits in a one-car garage and five rabbits in a "sick area" were seized due to poor and unhealthy living conditions, charging documents state.

Van Wie, 66, was charged Monday with one count of animal cruelty and 12 counts of animal cruelty failure to provide.

A preliminary hearing is scheduled in Calvert County District Court for Oct. 1.

Case Updates

Carole Van Wie was convicted in court of neglecting rabbits. She has promised not to take in any more animals and will be on supervised probation to ensure that she doesn't.

Van Wie will be turning in her state and federal animal rehabilitator licenses and has vowed to get out of animal rescue work. She must undergo a psychiatric evaluation and pay back some of the costs of caring for the animals who were rescued from Bunny Magic. The animal rights organization PETA thanked Calvert County Animal Control, the Tri-County Animal Shelter, and the Calvert County State's Attorney's Office for all their hard work on this case.
Source: PETA - Sept 17, 2012
Update posted on Apr 2, 2013 - 2:18PM 


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