Millions of people bought pets during the pandemic, but one woman went a little overboard.
This past weekend, employees of the Chicago-based rescue organization Red Door Animal Shelter liberated nearly 50 rabbits from the woman’s residence at the time, a single room in an extended-stay hotel in the suburb of Schaumburg, Illinois. The rabbits ranged in age from 1 week to 2 years old, according to WGN9. Several were pregnant.
“We’re a little bit traumatized by the whole thing,” Marcia Coburn, the president of Red Door, told Block Club Chicago of her reaction to the hoarding situation. “We rescue animals, but I’ve never been in that kind of situation.… It was kind of intense.”
The woman has been staying in the hotel room for at least 15 months, according to WGN9. No staff member had been inside in a while because the hotel suspended all cleaning services in deference to COVID-19, the manager said, adding that the woman usually kept a “Do Not Disturb” sign hanging on her doorknob.
The woman told Coburn that she started off with one rabbit, a neutered male, before investing in two more, an intact male and an intact female, according to Block Club Chicago. The animals proceeded to breed like—well, like rabbits. Within 15 months, their number had increased to 47, according to WGN9, with devastating effects for the condition of the furnishings. Per a photo posted on Facebook by the animal rescue organization One Tail at a Time, the floor soon became obscured by feces, bowls, plates, cardboard and other pet detritus.
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Far from being abusive, neglectful or cruel, Coburn said, the woman had seemingly tried to care for her lagomorphic menagerie as best she could. She even attempted to document the number of births that occurred, but soon lost track.
“She wanted help,” Coburn said. “She was afraid to give the rabbits up. She didn’t want them to be euthanized.”
Once in custody, the rabbits were divided among several local shelters. While DuPage County Animal Services took in the majority of the surrendered animals, One Tail at a Time took in nine and Red Door itself took in 10, according to Block Club Chicago.
The rabbits all appeared healthy at the time of rescue, though “shell-shocked” by the change in scenery, Stacy Price, the medical director of One Tail at a Time, said, according to Block Club Chicago. However, she added, they have since begun settling into their new foster homes and socializing with human beings.
The woman decided to keep the neutered rabbit.
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