Ottawa

Family 'devastated' after rabbits stolen, dropped off at humane society

Nineteen rabbits were stolen from an Ottawa home early Thursday morning and dropped off at the city's humane society in what their owner is calling a misguided act of vigilantism.

Nineteen rabbits were crammed into a single dog kennel and left overnight

Family devastated after thieves steal pet rabbits and leave them crammed into crate on humane society doorstep

1 year ago
Duration 2:54
Owner Anne Marie McNulty, who raises rabbits in her backyard, says the thieves piled 19 rabbits into a single crate and dropped them off at the Ottawa Humane Society overnight. One six-week old female had to be euthanized after sustaining severe injuries while in the crate.

Nineteen rabbits were stolen from an Ottawa home early Thursday morning and dropped off at the city's humane society in what their owner is calling a misguided act of vigilantism.

Anne-Marie McNulty and her family keep a couple dozen rabbits in the yard of their home on the outskirts of Barrhaven, raising them to sell as pets and bring to kids' birthday parties.

McNulty said she was in bed around 1 a.m. Thursday when the sound of her rabbits thumping their feet on the ground alerted her that something was wrong.

"When I looked out the bedroom window, I could see two individuals dressed all in black," she said.

By the time she'd run downstairs, the thieves were fleeing with 19 of the rabbits, McNulty said.

McNulty said she called the police and immediately began searching for the animals, but neither she nor police could find the rabbits or the thieves who took them.

"My kids were devastated. None of us slept the rest of the night," McNulty said.

Anne-Marie McNulty says 19 of her family's rabbits were stolen from their backyard early Thursday morning and left in a single kennel at the Ottawa Humane Society. One of the rabbits had to be euthanized. (Francis Ferland/CBC)

Left overnight

Through social media groups, McNulty received tips that some rabbits had been left at the Ottawa Humane Society (OHS) overnight.

OHS communications manager Stephen Smith told CBC they had indeed found all 19 rabbits crammed into a single dog kennel outside their building.

"It was a bit dirty for them. There was urine covering on a few of them and we certainly had to get them out of the situation as soon as we could," he said.

When McNulty arrived at the humane society Thursday afternoon, she discovered one six-week old rabbit had to be put down because of the cramped conditions the animals were left in.

"It was shredded by another rabbit," McNulty said, fighting back tears. "It was torn up so bad that OHS had to put her to sleep."

Since the rabbits were left at the humane society, McNulty said she believes the theft was a misguided act of vigilantism by people who likely believed they were being abused.

It's therefore ironic, she said, that they caused one of the animals' deaths.

Given that the rabbits were left overnight at the Ottawa Humane Society, McNulty says she believes the theft was some kind of misguided act of vigilantism. (Francis Ferland/CBC)

'They're all well-loved'

McNulty said she hopes the thieves realize her rabbits are well-loved, and that by sharing her story she'll prevent future rash actions.

"We find them excellent homes, the kids have a ball raising them," she said. "They all have names, they're all well-loved and taken care of."

The City of Ottawa's animal control bylaw says no more than five rabbits older than seven weeks can be kept on a residential property, and they must be kept as pets only.

However, that part of the bylaw does not apply to lands that were zoned rural or agricultural by pre-amalgamation municipalities.

Ottawa police said they're looking into the theft.

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