“These are desirable rabbits,” Cindy said, “Lionheads are show bunnies that can go for $100 each, the other rabbits with black rings around their eyes; are Hotots.”
On July 30, Cindy, a registered veterinary technician, met with two of her neighbors, Elise and Dave — on the corner of 36th and Landis streets in Cherokee Point.
“… I’ve been seeing the black ones on the street,” Dave said, “but they are not like before.”
Elise noticed about five rabbits in her backyard before, but last Monday (July 24) something concerned her after she peeked over the fence of her neighbor in question. “I saw a litter of babies, so, I imagine that this could get out of hand very fast [and] I will still plan on reaching out to Animal Control and the Humane Society this week.”
Cindy said that the Humane Society “won’t do anything because rabbits are considered to be like feral cats if they are not owned.”
But Elise said, unlike most feral cats, she’s able to pet the rabbits that she’s seen in the alleys, gardens and street corners. “They are domesticated.”
“Last year, I started seeing rabbits all over” said Cindy, “I started talking to neighbors and I found out that the house on the corner had an empty lot full of free roaming Lionheads and Hotot rabbits. I went and looked for myself and was shocked to see so many.”
She added that she went to talk to the renter or owner of the property, “who is of Asian descent,” and said that “he was elderly and didn’t speak too much English, so it’s very hard to communicate.”
Then “I just happened to be looking over the fence and someone pulled up, and I approached him,” Cindy said. “He said he was related somehow [to the older gentleman living in the property], and we texted back and forth, and finally he allowed me to take some cat carriers, and he let me take five or six [rabbits at a time].
Between the questionable house and the neighborhood, Cindy said that they caught about 100 rabbits, neutered and spayed all of them, then Shelly (from Shelly’s Shelter) fostered and adopted out the bunnies.
Dave said that Cindy and Shelly have stopped by his property, which he’s been living on since 1954, and picked up rabbits three times.
“So we will have to wait,” Dave said, “if it gets out of hand again.”
Last Sunday (July 30), the three inspected the fence of the rabbit dwelling home. “You see all along this fence, there are holes underneath, Elise said, “this is where they escape.”
Cindy said that the man on the property tries to keep the rabbits inside but laying bricks over the rabbit holes.
“Does he love them?” Elise asked.
“I think he does,” Cindy said, “but I don’t think he knows how to handle them.”
Cindy added that the older man would throw pellets on the ground so that the rabbits could eat, “but he’s also feeding the rats, and with these dead palms in the backyard – the rat-infestation is another problem because those rodents carry diseases.”
“The rabbits are not being cared for,” Elise said, “they are breeding out of control and do not have safe living conditions. The pictures I’ve seen of their hutches are pretty depressing.
“I have, myself, seen several dead rabbits in the yard.”
“The thing is, he (the relative) is no longer texting me back,” Cindy said, “and I haven’t seen the elderly man in a while, I don’t know if he still lives here.”
The three admit that the amount of rabbits are not as bad as last Fall, but it will get worse if they don’t intervene.
“I believe that the rabbit’s gestation is 60 days,” Cindy said, “it might even be shorter than that. And rabbits are capable of having six to eight bunnies.”
Most of the neighbors were supportive of Cindy and Shelly’s effort last year, but some neighbors were upset about the rabbit-wrangling that went on after dark and on their private properties.
Cindy said the retail price to spay and neuter a rabbit is about $300, “because you are talking about full anesthesia, a complete ovary hysterectomy by taking out both uterine horns, then they are sewn back up and they have to stay overnight.”
Elise added, “Dagmar Midcap (from NBC 7 San Diego), actually adopted three of those rabbits [from last years rescue].”