PETA Calls for Psychological Intervention, Ban on Owning Animals if Alleged Rabbit Hoarder Is Convicted

For Immediate Release:
December 16, 2013

Sophia Charchuk 202-483-7382

Loveland, Colo. – This morning, PETA sent a plea to Larimer County District Attorney Cliff Riedel urging him to appropriately prosecute Katherine Von Meister of Lyons, who is scheduled to appear in court on December 18. Von Meister faces charges stemming from authorities’ reported September 19 discovery of 111 rabbits languishing in squalid, severely crowded conditions on her property. Officers wearing hazmat suits reportedly found dead rabbits stacked in freezers and stashed between couch cushions—the live rabbits had no food or water, and three were in such poor condition that one died while in transit to the shelter and the other two had to be euthanized upon their arrival.

Because Von Meister may be an “animal hoarder”—someone who obsessively accumulates and neglects animals—PETA is requesting that, if convicted, she be prohibited from owning or harboring animals and required to undergo a thorough psychological evaluation followed by counseling.

“Von Meister appears to be either unable or unwilling to provide animals with the most basic care,” says PETA Director Martin Mersereau. “Experts agree that dementia and other mental-health disorders may be at play in many hoarding cases and that upon conviction, only carefully considered sentencing and probationary conditions can preclude the otherwise inevitable recurrence of these crimes.”

PETA also sent its report on animal hoarding to Riedel. For more information, please visit


PETA’s letter to Larimer County District Attorney Cliff Riedel follows.


December 16, 2013

The Honorable Cliff Riedel
Larimer County District Attorney
810 E. 10th St., Ste. 210
Loveland, CO 80537-4944


Dear Mr. Riedel:

PETA is an international animal-protection organization, with more than 3 million members and supporters globally, thousands residing in Colorado. We thank you in advance for your consideration. This letter concerns a case with your office involving Lyons resident Katherine Von Meister of 306 Pinewood Dr. According to news sources, Von Meister faces cruelty-to-animals charges stemming from the September 19 discovery of 111 rabbits on her property, three of whom were apparently in such poor condition that one died while in transit to an animal shelter and two had to be euthanized upon their arrival. The rabbits were allegedly languishing without food or water and living in squalid, severely crowded conditions. Reportedly, officials found several dead rabbits stashed between couch cushions and inside freezers in Van Meister’s home. The defendant is scheduled to appear in court on December 18.

Von Meister may be an animal hoarder. Hoarders create massive suffering while professing to care for their animals. A psychological addiction to warehousing animals supersedes any real concern for animal welfare. Their resources are usually constrained, making matters worse. The “hoarder syndrome” is not rare. It’s pathological, and rates of recidivism approach 100 percent. Only specific sentencing provisions (or conditions of a plea agreement) can prevent repeat offenses. Please see the attached for more information.

We respectfully ask that, if convicted, Von Meister be required to undergo a psychological evaluation, followed by mandatory counseling at her own expense. Because repeat crimes are the rule rather than the exception in such cases, we also ask that the defendant, if convicted, be barred from possessing animals for as long as possible (a common sentencing provision).

Thank you for your time and for the difficult work that you do.

Sincerely yours,

Melissa Lewis
Cruelty Caseworker
Cruelty Investigations Department


For Media: Contact PETA's
Media Response Team.


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“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

— Ingrid E. Newkirk, PETA President and co-author of Animalkind