Father's 'horrible' rabbit farm adds to Parkland County woman's grief

When Katalin Allen's father died last December, she was left with an unwelcome inheritance: more than 60 rabbits that had been kept at her father’s acreage in Parkland County.

More than 60 rabbits were found living in wretched conditions

“They are just like cats except that they hop around more,” says Katalin Allen who is looking to find a home for the more than 60 rabbits she inherited after her father passed away in December. CBC’s Rick Bremness tours the barn where these rabbits were raised. 1:48

When Katalin Allen's father died last December, she was left with an unwelcome inheritance: more than 60 rabbits from her father's acreage in Parkland County.

"I haven't had a lot of time to grieve my dad because he left me so much damn work to do," Allen said. "I guess I can thank him for that. It's given me something else to focus on."

Allen says the rabbits' lives were wretched. Many mothers stopped producing milk due to starvation, and stillborn births were common.

"The conditions were just horrible," Allen said. "I don't know how many babies died, were aborted or froze to death."

Kept in cramped cages, infighting among the males was rampant, and many were covered in painful abscesses.

"Two of them had their noses gnawed, ripped off," Allen said. "It was just horrible."

The animals were allowed to breed freely over and over again, and Allen says their numbers doubled in the months that preceded her father's sudden death at the age of 80.

Allen's father had been breeding and selling the rabbits for meat, a hobby left over from his childhood in rural Hungary.

"I kept warning him to stop, but he wanted no part of it," Allen said. "I couldn't stop him my whole life. Now is my chance to give these animals a better life."

Allen says rabbits at her father's ranch were kept in deplorable conditions. (Supplied )
 With the stress of planning her father's funeral and tending to her elderly mother, Allen said trying to homes for the animals and deal with their mounting vet bills has been daunting.

"It's been a huge strain," Allen said. "I was supposed to start a new job but I had to take a few extra weeks just to deal with this."

Allen refused to give the animals to anyone who would use them for meat, and has already turned down a few offers from "backyard breeders."

Instead she has enlisted the help of several rescue agencies, including Infinite Woofs Animal Rescue Society, and Precious Rabbits Rescue and Sanctuary Society, which began fundraising and searching for appropriate foster homes.

Eighteen rabbits still remain with Allen, and her Parkland County home is now littered with cat kennels and Tupperware bins being used as makeshift cages.

Despite the stress, Allen said her concern now lies with the volunteer agencies that stepped up to help.

"I'm concerned about the adoptions. I know there are a lot of animals that need help, not just my rabbits."

Here are just a few of the rescued bunnies recovering in the care of a new foster home.