Written by Jeff Mackey
On August 20, Carole Van Wie, the operator of Bunny Magic Wildlife
& Rabbit Rescue, Inc., was charged with 13 counts of cruelty to animals. The
charges follow an August 8 raid on the facility—prompted by a PETA complaint—in
which law-enforcement officers seized 222 rabbits. Officials reportedly had to
don masks to rescue the flea-infested and sick rabbits from up to 4 inches of
feces and urine. Investigators apparently found one rabbit dead in a cage and
others denied food or water. According to news sources, seven of the rabbits
rescued that day could not be saved.
Originally posted August 8:
Welcome news! Today,
many, many rabbits are being removed
by Calvert County, Maryland, officials from what could be called a sham "sanctuary,"
Bunny Magic Wildlife & Rabbit Rescue, Inc., in Lusby. The seizure was
prompted by evidence gathered by PETA of systemic—and sometimes fatal—neglect
of animals at the "rescue," following a whistleblower's tip-off.
neglected rabbits’ nails were overgrown. Some caught on wire cage bottoms while
others curled dangerously toward the animals’ sensitive feet.
evidence and a detailed complaint to Calvert County Animal Control and State's
Attorney Laura Martin's Office, which has opened a criminal investigation into Bunny
Magic, run by President Carole Van Wie. We thank law enforcement for acting
promptly and PETA Investigations
& Rescue Fund donors for providing us with the resources needed to follow up
on the whistleblower's tip.
PETA found that
Bunny Magic consisted of little more than Van Wie's garage, which reeked of ammonia,
and a dark shed that was overrun with rodents. It had no paid help to care for its more than 200 rabbits and other animals. Van
Wie deprived rabbits of needed veterinary care and left contagious animals in contact
with others, risking the spread of disease. Photographs show that Bunny Magic was
little more than a hoarding
facility, amassing far more animals than it could properly care for.
Dead rabbits crammed
into a freezer
Scores of rabbits kept in cramped, stacked cages
are fastidiously clean animals) were unable to avoid stepping in their own feces, which was allowed
to accumulate for days
One neglected rabbit,
Rockette, suffered with a severely twisted neck, struggling to stand up on her
own; she was denied nursing and veterinary care and left to languish and
defecate on herself until she finally died. Another rabbit, named George, who
had a months-long respiratory infection that filled his throat with pus, was
rescued from Bunny Magic before PETA met with officials but could not be saved.
A veterinarian recommended that George be put out of his misery.
The rabbits are being rescued only because a courageous
whistleblower reported how horrified he or she was by Bunny Magic, reminding us
that we should never be
silent when animals are in trouble.
Please be sure, before adopting any animals, that you're ready to make a lifetime commitment to caring for them. Beware of hoarders
pretending to operate so-called "no-kill" rescues or sanctuaries who
promise to care for unwanted animals but instead will only subject them to
prolonged suffering and a prolonged, miserable death. If you take an animal to
a shelter, make sure it's
Victories like this one are made possible in part through
the generosity of PETA Investigations & Rescue Fund supporters. To learn more about this vital fund and how
you can support the rescue of more animals, click here!
Written by PETA
Earlier this week, following PETA's undercover investigation of a Myrtle Beach–area hoarding facility that had been warehousing hundreds of cats and an arthritic dog named Hope in storage units, roughly 240 cats and the dog were seized from Elizabeth Owen by order of a Horry County judge. Roughly half the cats who were seized were so ill that they had to be put out of their misery.
The cats had been "stored," some for most or all of their lives, in filthy, cramped cages, unable to get away from their own waste or even stretch or walk, let alone enjoy life. Dozens of cats were suffering from chronic, painful conditions such as anal maggots, herpes, tumors, seizures, multiple abdominal abscesses, severe gum disease, and more. Some people are criticizing county officials for euthanizing the sickest cats, but the real outrage is that these cats had been allowed to suffer and languish for so long with no quality of life whatsoever. If the cats were too far gone to save, it is because of the long-term neglect that Owen subjected them to—neglect that merits state-level cruelty-to-animals charges and a prohibition on obtaining any more animals. Hoarders are notorious for starting back up where they left off if such judicial measures aren't taken.
Unfortunately, after Owen's attorney told the judge that Hope and about 30 of the cats were Owen's "personal pets," the judge agreed to have them returned to Owen's custody, following a medical exam by the county's contract veterinarian. Hope, who is old and suffering from painful arthritis, is mostly kept in one of the storage units in a small pen and on a cold, hard cement floor or tethered outside in front of the warehouse. Owen has been ordered to provide the animals with veterinary care at her own expense, but it remains to be seen if she will do so. Owen couldn't manage to keep the facility stocked with litter or food, let alone take ailing and even dying animals for veterinary care or euthanasia. Her current registration to solicit charitable funds has been suspended by the Office of the Secretary of State, which means she cannot lawfully solicit donations or items to sell in her thrift store. If the medical condition of the 107 cats whom the county was forced to euthanize are any indication, the 30 animals who went back to that hellhole are doomed.
Not surprisingly, the 101 feline survivors who remain in the county's temporary shelter facility are also sick. The county is providing veterinary care for them, and PETA is hopeful that once they recover, they will find happiness with responsible families who will give them all the love, attention, and catnip they need and deserve.
Written by Daphna Nachminovitch
Update: After receiving evidence from PETA's six-month undercover investigation at Sacred Vision Animal Sanctuary, Judge Bradley Mayers ordered the removal of all animals from the facility. More information regarding these new developments will be made available in the coming days.
Some 300 cats are suffering in filthy wire cages stacked inside dark, unventilated, ammonia-filled storage units at the grotesquely misnamed Sacred Vision Animal Sanctuary (SVAS) in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. PETA has submitted a formal complaint to the local prosecutor and is calling for the cats to be seized immediately.
Please take a moment to e-mail Horry County prosecutor Greg Hembree and politely ask him to pursue the seizure of all cats from SVAS and to file cruelty-to-animals charges against Elizabeth Owen.
Written by Michelle Sherrow
Many of us have had a peek into the bizarre world of hoarding courtesy of reality television. Accumulating piles and piles of household junk is bad enough, but when hoarders collect living animals, the results are extreme neglect, suffering, and death.
According to the Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF), "It is likely that up to a quarter million animals—250,000 per year—are victims of hoarders. What's more, records kept by ALDF indicate that in the last four years, the number of reported hoarding cases has more than doubled. In terms of the number of animals affected and the degree and duration of their suffering, hoarding is the number one animal cruelty crisis facing companion animals in communities throughout the country."
Alarmingly, as a result of public pressure to avoid euthanasia at all costs, the hoarding mentality has infiltrated animal shelters. MSNBC.com reports that groups calling themselves "rescues" and "shelters" currently account for one-fourth of the estimated 6,000 new hoarding cases annually reported in the U.S. This is just one more way that trying to become "no-kill" before becoming "no-birth" hurts animals.
When animal shelters and rescue groups—such as South Carolina's terribly inaccurately named Sacred Vision Animal Sanctuary—aren't themselves hoarding animals, they sometimes farm out animals to anyone who will take them, including hoarders, in order to reduce the number of animals they euthanize. Here are just two examples:
Please help keep animals out of hoarders' hands by volunteering to help your local animal shelter screen potential placement partners, rescue groups, and adopters. Contact PETA for free placement partner applications and agreements. Please also spay and neuter all your animal companions—it's the only real way to prevent animals from being born only to end up homeless or hoarded.
Written by Lindsay Pollard-Post
I remember the first hoarding case I ever went on. The woman would never open the door, and her blinds were kept drawn. Standing on her porch, you could catch a whiff of animal waste, but just a whiff. Since she was unwilling to work with local humane officers, there was only one thing left to do: get a warrant to remove the animals from inside her house.
That day is etched in my mind. When the door finally opened, the smell was so overpowering that seasoned police officersâ€•including one who had just returned from Vietnamâ€•called for masks. Fleas leapt up to bite us all over as we threaded our way through the piles of saved newspapers. There were dead cats among the live ones and, down in the basement, a maggot-covered floor, a broken hot-water pipe spewing steam, and feral cats living in the dark in the rafters.
Not every hoarder has reached that stage, but that was not the last house of animal-hoarding horrors that I saw or helped to bust.
Willow is one of nine puppies who were born to a dog living alongside numerous other animals in the dilapidated home of an indigent hoarder we talked to a few months ago. Our cruelty caseworkers coordinated with local officials to provide this woman with enough food to last her until a kind volunteer could arrange to take the animals out of thereâ€•to a decent, reputable animal shelter.
But then it was discovered that the pups were suffering from symptoms consistent with parvovirus. Crowded, squalid conditions—the conditions one typically finds in hoarders' homes—are incubators for communicable diseases. Parvo is a common yet preventable illness that causes uncontrollable vomiting and diarrhea, loss of appetite, and eventual death in most cases. Willow was the only puppy to make it out of the house alive, along with nearly a dozen cats.
Willow's story does have a happy ending. The volunteer who drove her to the animal shelter was so smitten with Willow that she adopted her. As you can see from this picture, Willow is enjoying a great life in her new home!
Is that local "sanctuary" that you heard about run by a hoarder? What about that "no-kill" shelter on the outskirts of town? Hopefully not! There are lots of good facilities, for sure. But please be vigilant, because if no one investigates, animals can suffer greatly. Hoarding is a recognized symptom of a particular type of mental illness, which, if left unchecked, leads to animal suffering—and often a slow, miserable death for the animals involved. Hoarders "collect" animals even when they can't care for the ones they already have. They ignore or deny the increasingly substandard (and eventually appalling) living conditions that invariably arise and commonly refuse to seek veterinary care for sick or injured animals. They also often refuse to euthanize animals or take them to open-admission animal shelters—which is why so-called "no-kill sanctuaries" often wind up being a "front" for hoarders.
For animals who are suffering at the hands of hoarders, there is a fate worse than death—a fate that Willow escaped. I know that on my first hoarding case, we were able to rescue dozens of kittens from that horrid home, and I wept to think of how long they had lived like that and for the dozens more who had just crawled under the furniture and perished. To learn more about hoarding and what you can do if you know of a hoarder in your area, please read our factsheet.
Written by Ingrid E. Newkirk
you have a general question for PETA and would like a response, please e-mail Info@peta.org. If you need to report cruelty to
an animal, please click
here. If you are reporting an animal in imminent danger and know where to find the
animal and if the abuse is taking place right now, please call your local
police department. If the police are unresponsive, please call PETA
immediately at 757-622-7382 and press 2.
Follow PETA on Twitter!
Almost all of us grew up eating meat, wearing leather, and going to circuses and zoos. We never considered the impact of these actions on the animals involved. For whatever reason, you are now asking the question: Why should animals have rights? Read more.