69 bunnies looking for new homes after apartment eviction

  • DuPage County Animal Care and Control officials are trying to find homes for 69 domesticated Dutch rabbits found during a recent apartment eviction.

    DuPage County Animal Care and Control officials are trying to find homes for 69 domesticated Dutch rabbits found during a recent apartment eviction. Ed Lee | Staff Photographer

  • DuPage County animal control officer Susan Nestel looks over a pen of some of the 69 rabbits officials are trying to find new homes for after being removed from an apartment during eviction proceedings.

    DuPage County animal control officer Susan Nestel looks over a pen of some of the 69 rabbits officials are trying to find new homes for after being removed from an apartment during eviction proceedings. Ed Lee | Staff Photographer

 
 
Published12/18/2008 4:08 PM

For anyone who ever wanted to know what would happen if a few rabbits were left to roam free for a year in a suburban one-bedroom apartment, take a trip to the DuPage County Animal Care and Control Center in Wheaton.

Officials there are trying to find homes for 69 domesticated Dutch rabbits that were discovered during a recent eviction. The female tenant told animal control workers her financial situation had overwhelmed her.

 

Authorities would not identify the woman nor the location of her apartment.

"She was upset about the whole thing, not just losing her rabbits," said Kerry Vinkler, the center's executive director. "This was not the typical hoarding situation. She knew it was a problem, but she was caring for the rabbits."

All the rabbits but one were in good shape when they were found, Vinkler said. She estimated the oldest to be about 18 months. Dutch rabbits have a life span of eight to 12 years.

"The first thing we did was separate the boys from the girls as quickly as we could because we didn't want to wind up with any more rabbits," she said.

All the females have been spayed. When homes are found for the males, they'll be neutered before they're released.

Vinkler's center is filled with the bunnies. There are several in cages inside the lobby, including three babies. But most are being held in a series of cages that normally would house dogs.

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Most of the rabbits are black-and-white, but there are several gray and chocolate-colored bunnies as well as a couple with caramel fur. There's an all-ginger rabbit, too.

Katie Boyce, membership coordinator for the American Rabbit Breeders Association in downstate Bloomington, said Dutch rabbits are some of the most common domesticated rabbits in the country and are staples at county fair shows. She said they are bred for three purposes: Pets, shows and snake food.

"That's why we're charging $15 for them," Vinkler said. "We're trying to make it cost-prohibitive for them to be snake food."

Boyce said Dutch rabbits generally have a good temperament and that's why they are often bought as pets, but many are bred for competition.

To be considered good show bunnies, they need clean lines in their patterns, Boyce said. The fur color around the eyes should make a triangle shape from the mouth up to the forehead. The colored fur on the rabbit's back - called the saddle - shouldn't meet with any other colored fur. And the feet should be white.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Vinkler said the prospect of good show bunnies may attract some potential buyers, but Boyce doesn't think the woman was breeding them for show.

"Keeping them in an apartment is not in the best interest of the rabbits," Boyce said. "And with that many I can only imagine what the apartment smelled like."

Vinkler believes the woman initially had just a couple rabbits as pets, but didn't manage them properly and got caught in a baby bunny boom.

For information about rabbit adoption from the DuPage Animal Care and Control Center, call (630) 407-2800 or visit dupageco.org/animalcontrol.

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