The story of the dozens of rabbits who were seized from Brooklyn’s notorious bunny hoarder have gotten a hippy, hoppy, happy ending in Connecticut.
NYPD officers and animal-rescue workers famously raided the outdoor bunny colony of infamous Brooklyn bunny hoarder Dorota Trec, located behind the Mexico Tire Shop in Gowanus, Brooklyn, in January 2015.
Trec was found guilty of animal cruelty in 2016 and the city removed 176 rabbits. Vets who examined the bunnies found that more than two-thirds of them had “wounds, mostly from bites,” and many had contracted syphilis and skin conditions due to being kept in an unclean environment.But today, the bunnies are thriving.
CrimeFeed visited The Hop-A-Long Hollow, a nonprofit rabbit rescue located near Norwalk, Connecticut, where the rabbits are being cared for while they wait for their forever homes.
Linda Thibault, who founded the rescue in 2004, said that she currently has between 75 and 85 bunnies in her care.
Many of the Gowanus rabbits, she said, had shocking injuries when they were brought to her, including abscesses that went down to the bone.
Thibault’s organization is impressive: The rabbits are healthy, happy, and well cared-for, and the pens are exceptionally clean, especially considering the amount of work that goes into raising rabbits.Related: Police Officer Allegedly Slapped Man Who Wore Bunny Suit, Blew Air Horn
Each rabbit at the Hollow is identified by name, breed, and his or her particular personality quirks.
There’s Zipper, a large grey rabbit who happily poses for photographs. Zipper was rescued from Gowanus, and though he is friendly and loves to sit in my lap, Thibault said that Zipper has dental issues, and will need expensive dental care for the rest of his life.
Paisley, a Rex, had to wear booties in order to help the abscesses on her feet heal. In addition, Thibault said she had ear mites, a tumor in her uterus (which turned out to be noncancerous).
After a few more weeks of antibiotics, Thibault hopes that she will be spayed and ready for adoption.
Beans, another adorable bunny, did not come from Gowanus. But he’s having trouble finding a permanent home due to the fact that his cute looks belie a serious biting habit.
Trec was sentenced to 45 days in jail, three years of probation, and ordered to register with the city’s Animal Abusers Registry and see a mental-health professional. She was also banned from owning animals for five years.
Incredibly, Trec continued to collect more pets. She has insisted that she’s not an animal abuser, telling the judge: “I’m not sick. I’m a very intelligent person.
Originally, Trec rescued rabbits from the slaughterhouse because she wanted to save their lives.Unfortunately, according to Thibault, the situation became so dire that “a quick death would have would have been better” for the animals than the situation the bunnies were living in.
Many of the rabbits rescued from Gowanus still remain in quarantine.
Thibault says before they leave her care, they will be spayed or neutered, given health care, and the potential owners will be provided with information about health issues specific to rabbits.
Thibault says that rabbits are wonderful pets, but laments the owners who buy them for kids as an Easter present.
She said that her rescue has been “like Grand Central Station” following the holiday, with so many people dumping unwanted pets.
“They are horrible pets for children under the age of eight, because they want to hold them in their laps and cuddle them, and many of them don’t like that,” she said.
She added that bunnies would be a good choice for an older family or young couple, and says that they make good apartment pets — provided that the new owners understand that they can chew, and take appropriate steps to make sure that they get enough exercise and rabbit-proof their property.
Thibault is looking for volunteers at Hop-A-Long Hollow, including someone who can help clean cages and help socialize rabbits.
She is also seeking donations to help the bunnies get veterinary care, and encourages anyone with questions to visit the website where they can find information on rabbit adoption, fostering, and sanctuary rabbits, or call her on (203) 247-4661.
Main photo: Beans, a bunny at Hop-A-Long Hollow [Catherine Townsend / Investigation Discovery]