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Dorota Trec holds a bunny in her rabbit "garden" in New York, Oct. 6, 2016 (Angel Franco/The New York Times)

‘Rabbit girl’

Woman denies charges of animal cruelty after authorities seize 176 rabbits she was raising in vacant lot

January 12, 2017

A woman is facing up to two years in jail on charges of animal cruelty after authorities removed 176 rabbits she had been keeping in a vacant lot in Brooklyn, New York. The woman in the case, Dorota Trec, has denied charges of animal cruelty, claiming that she is the target of a “witch hunt” by extremist animal activists who disapprove of her rearing rabbits outdoors.

“This whole trial has been ridiculous, starting with the accusations that were based on nothing,” said Trec, who was convicted in November and is set to be sentenced on January 13, in an interview with The Guardian. “This is a group of individuals who don’t want people to have animals. They are just using the situation to assume I mistreated them.”

Trec, a piano and flute teacher, said she began keeping a pet rabbit in 2000, shortly after she began living alone in Brooklyn. After the death of her rabbit in 2010, she said she “noticed how special rabbits are.”

“I realized that not only did I miss him as a friend, but something clicked in me: I’m a rabbit girl and that I will have rabbits forever,” Trec recalled. By 2012, Trec had begun building an outdoor rabbit colony in a lot behind a tire shop.

Trec’s garden of semi-wild rabbits quickly drew attention — not all of it good. Natalie Reeves, founder of the Big Apple Bunnies rabbit advocacy Facebook group visited the lot in 2015, and called for the seizure of the rabbits and imprisonment of Trec after determining that rabbits in the lot had “deplorable living conditions.”

As winter storms shook New York in January 2015, authorities raided the lot and seized 276 rabbits. Many of the rabbits were found with multiple ailments, including syphilis, according to a New York Times report, but Trec insists that the rabbits were always fed and looked after and that they were happy to be able to live outside. Regardless of what happens in her case, Trec said, rabbits “are worth it for me to work for the rest of my life for them.”

Read the full story at The Guardian.


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