Massive Rabbit Seizure in Indiana

Discussion in 'General Rabbit Discussion' started by TinksMama, Jun 19, 2013.

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  1. Jun 19, 2013 #1

    TinksMama

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    A few days ago I was on Facebook looking at my newsfeed and saw a like to this article. :cry1: http://fox59.com/2013/06/11/nearly-400-rabbits-found-in-feces-riddled-garage/#axzz2VzkBRiVB

    Since reading it I haven't been able to stop thinking about them and what they've lived through this far. I've also been keeping tabs on the National Mini Rex Rabbit Club's Facebook page (The owner of the animals is also VP of the club), and was disgusted to see that NO ONE has found ANYTHING wrong with the way they were kept and treated. In fact people have been saying exactly the opposite, and that it was just fine and they see nothing wrong with the rabbit's living conditions! :banghead What is wrong with these people?!?! No wonder why they don't want stricter laws that require licensing!!

    End of Rant :)

    Ok I feel better now. lol So what do you guys think about this?
     
  2. Jun 19, 2013 #2

    woahlookitsme

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    I was really hoping this would not be mentioned on here. . .


    If you read this story please keep a very open mind. You have no idea what the owner of these rabbits is going through(health or money wise). This is horrible what happened and it makes me very nervous about what people will do. If i ever had my rabbits taken away from me I would be devastated.

    Also for legal reasons the owner of the rabbits has asked that all topics on the arba Facebook regarding him and his rabbits be taken down. I don't want to say anything about this for his sake but I also do not want to see anyone on here bashing my rabbit hobby which has happened before.
     
    Last edited: Jun 19, 2013
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  3. Jun 19, 2013 #3

    Azerane

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    The trouble is, 400 rabbits is a heck of a lot for one person to manage, how he got into that situation, I don't know. I can only begin to image how much food/water 400 rabbits need per day and how much poop 400 rabbits produce daily! Very easy for one person to get in over their head at that point. As poor as the conditions look from the images and film, all the rabbits look quite clean and of good weight and no poopy bums. I think for me the most saddening factor is the absence of a supply of hay and possibly water.

    My next question is, if he's away a bit as a truck driver, who comes and looks after the rabbits?
     
    Last edited: Jun 19, 2013
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  4. Jun 19, 2013 #4

    woahlookitsme

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    Someone is probably looking after them. 400 is actually more common for show rabbits than you think. The numbers only rise with how many breeds you have. To be competitive in mini Rex you almost need that many especially when there can be upwards of 20 in a class at a show.

    All breeders feed/water AT LeAST once daily. I don't know anything about who was looking after the rabbits so I won't speculate but rabbits do dump their water bowls. Even we all know this
     
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  5. Jun 19, 2013 #5

    TinksMama

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    I raised rabbits for five years, so I know what a typical rabbitry looks like. I got out because I could no longer stand how insane the "normal" practices were.

    If I were having health or money issues, I would greatly cut down on the number of animals I owned, and this is just common sense. In my opinion health and money is no excuse for what happened to these animals.

    Cleanliness aside, rabbits are not meant to spend their whole life alone in a small box. 18"x24" is standard for a Mini Rex Buck & growing out kits, 24"x24" is MINIMUM for a doe with a YOUNG litter. From what I saw, the animals did not even have that much room.

    Rabbits require a large amount of space to properly exercise, as well as plenty of socialization and interaction with humans and/or other rabbits. In my opinion those cage sizes I listed above are much too small for any rabbit of any breed. The way these rabbits were housed, did not meet even a single one of those requirements.
     
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  6. Jun 19, 2013 #6

    woahlookitsme

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    I dont know about what kind of experiences that you have had but i havent seen anything insane in the 5 years ive been breeding showing and raising tan rabbits. Any of the suggestions I get from people who have been in the rabbit hobby longer than I have gives advice that can only better the herd as a whole. For example If that means taking one rabbit out of its misery to save many others than I totally see where they are coming from.

    It is here say but there was a comment made that the owners tried to cut down on his herd and clean up but it wasn't enough for the officials. Now that is all from just reading comments so I can't produce real truth to it but you on the other hand cannot prove that he actually didnt try to do something. Unless you know the man or situation personally you have no idea what he did or didn't do.

    You really can't go by pictures to tell how big a cage is. I counted one of the cages in the picture and at least one side was a 24". Sooo no truth to that statement either.

    Also all of this rabbits require and they aren't meant to is your opinion which is most likely based from the HRS whatever. Simple fact it's your opinion. Not everyone agrees

    I normally don't stand up for things on this website but when it comes to things that I care very dearly about and people who try to make this look all wrong without giving both sides you bet your butt I'm going to stand by my bunny hobby. If they ruin it for one person it could ruin it for all of us and I never want to say goodbye to any of my rabbits or come home from a long hard day at work to see them all gone
     
    Last edited: Jun 19, 2013
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  7. Jun 19, 2013 #7
    KEEP IT CLEAN.

    The article is posted on a public new site, and is free public information. There is nothing wrong with it being shared.

    RabbitsOnline is here in hope to better improve the care of ALL rabbits.

    There is where you will simply have to draw the line between pet owner standards and breeder standards. And we will not get into that argument here.

    All rabbits should be provided the best care, one can offer. Simple.
     
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  8. Jun 19, 2013 #8

    OakRidgeRabbits

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    This topic is getting a lot of heat on the internet. I was hoping it wouldn't be mentioned here too.

    We need to remember what all of us have in common - we love our rabbits dearly. That includes all rabbit owners, from pet owners to exhibitors and commercial breeders. There is no profit in rabbits, no matter how you slice it. Every single one of us, from pet owners to breeders, work our tails off to enjoy our rabbits - for whatever purpose they serve. And I think we'd all be in agreement that we would be devastated to lose our rabbits.

    More licensing and regulation won't benefit the rabbits, it will only prevent those who love them from enjoying their animals.

    The circumstances of Rick's situation, right or wrong, will be evaluated and dealt with according to the policies in place for his area.

    As for the rest of us, it's time to stop judging other situations and do our best to properly care for our own animals and educate others about rabbit care. There are many resources available for pet owners, as well as an ARBA Standard of Care provided for breeders and exhibitors. Both sides may not agree on things like cage size or flooring, but both sides do care greatly about their animals and preserving their opportunity to enjoy them.
     
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  9. Jun 20, 2013 #9

    TinksMama

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    I guess we're just going to have to agree to disagree on this subject.

    Sorry for going a little overboard on the forum. I have a hard time putting my thoughts about this subject into words without getting upset. ;)
     
  10. Jun 20, 2013 #10

    Azerane

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    That's fair enough, having never bred any sort of animal I don't really know what sort of numbers are standard for that. Once you start thinking about it though, you need several different bucks and does, then if each of your does has a litter of maybe 5 kits, I can see how it quickly adds up.
     
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  11. Jun 20, 2013 #11

    Troller

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    Unless your involved firsthand its not right to make any judgements based on articles or pictures. Fact is we live in a world now where all information can be manipulated to serve a perspective, right or wrong, and so without direct involvement only educated guesses and opinions can be formed. Discussiing opinions on a topic is fine but to make a judgement without all the evidence being proved as fact is just unfair.

    I've read about this elsewhere, and read the arguments on both sides but still am waiting it all out to see what's what. I will however comment on the number 400 for rabbits. I'm no breeder, just a happy minion to two house bunnies but I've worked at a farm. Now its just ending breeding season so the number itself isn't staggering to imagine during this time, and while I'm out of practice with a good system in place I'm pretty sure I could handle that many even if only as a hobby. So it bothers me when folks take umbrage at the number. Some can handle it, others can't. As to all other things involved in the case I won't comment because again, I'm not personally involved.
     
  12. Jun 20, 2013 #12
    Again another reminder to keep it clean and friendly guys, I don't want this getting out of hand or I will close the thread.
    Don't knock on others for being against what happened or those that don't see anything wrong.

    We just want to see happy rabbits. :)

    This topic is not specifically in the Rabbitry section and is free for ALL opinions including that of pet or rescue owners who may STRONGLY disagree with what is happening. So I will ask rabbitry folks to be nice in that regard, but also our pet/rescue folks not to try and jump down anyones throat and blame the breeding society. Most of us wouldn't have our buns if there wasn't large breeding operations.
     
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  13. Jun 20, 2013 #13

    Korr_and_Sophie

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    There really hasn't been a lot of photos, at least not that I have seen. The ones I have seen have been after the rabbits were seized, so not necessarily the conditions that the rabbits were in. I am sure we won't see before pictures from the first warning or photos before the rabbits were seized until any investigations are over, and even then it is doubtful. The rabbits do seem fairly healthy, at least to look at, but the cages were not in good shape.

    400 rabbits is a lot. I know what it takes to have 10 on my own (8 of mine and 2-3 fosters), and that takes a few hours to clean. I can't imagine 400 to care for on my own or even with some help.

    It does seem that anything there is a big seizure from a breeder, everything turns into breeders vs pet owners and rescues. The drama alone is worthy of reality TV.
     
  14. Jun 21, 2013 #14

    Anaira

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    I thought this meant an actual seizure, lol. Wondered why it wasn't in the infirmatory.

    My thoughts; doesn't matter what is happening with him. I understand health problems. I just find it a bit shocking people don't find anything wrong. (referring maily to tink's mama's first post, about the facebook comments). Sure, I've heard people say that pictures don't always give the correct idea, but they give a pretty darn good one. Some of those cages do look two feet. They also have multiple rabbits inside. I don't go by cage sizes, I go by how large it looks in proportion to the rabbit/s inside. I think most of those look too small. Sure, the rabbits look healthy, fed, and watered but that isn't the point. They aren't having the best life they could, they aren't even close to it. They can't binky properly. They aren't living anywhere near their natural life. I'm not anti-breeding, or showing. This isn't an attack on all breeders, just a certain percentages attitudes. The rabbit should come first. If you keep them just so you can show them, and get prizes for what nice rabbits you have, and they live a less than optimum life, then you've missed the point and you might as well start collecting china dolls, and showing them.

    I don't think breeders and showing people should feel they have to defend someone just because they are also a breeder. Bad rabbit owning is bad rabbit owning, regardless of the owners health and status. If he were a good owner, and something happened, and they slipped down to that state(imho rusty cages are not acceptable) then no need to crucify him, I agree. However when you get to 400 rabbits, you do have a responsibility to ensure you have a realiable backup plan. And it doesn't mean we and the authorities dedicated to looking after animals welfare should feel sorry for him and let him keep them. Because he'd already been given a warning, and I'm sure they would have offered help, too. I don't see any group wanting to taking on 400 rabbits just for the sake of victimising this guy unfairly.
     
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  15. Jun 21, 2013 #15

    woahlookitsme

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    Here is a quote from a member of the National Mini Rex rabbit club for those that think the cages looked dirty
    "I don't think people who don't raise rabbits as livestock are seeing the whole picture here. The rabbits are clean, fed, in shape. He competes at a national level which takes a long time to get to. If cages aren't power washed every couple of months they get like that as it is normal because they are animals. It would be "oh so convenient" if cages could stay shiny and bright but UNfortunateLY rabbits piss all over them, crap outside the cage and pee on back walls and even rub against urine guards. . ."

    It is so true though. The things I see on the cages are on the OUTSIDE. The inside of the cages do not have corners packed with feces or urine buildup. They are clean on the inside. Behind the urine guards there is urine and fur buildup (or thats what it looks like) Has anyone ever tried cleaning cages with urine guards? I personally have and it is SO DIFFICULT to get out any hay or fur out from between the guard and the cage. Cleaning our rabbitry (only 20+ rabbits) took me a good 5-7 hours and i didnt even get to all of them. I can only imagine how long it takes to thoroughly clean that many. I admit if it was too much work then the number of rabbits should have been cut down but again i repeat I or no one else really knows the truth about what he did or did not do unless you are personally involved in this. Also what I see are some older cages. The man was older and has probably been in rabbits for many years. Cages rust and get old in a certain number of years. You can try to prevent it but it will happen. BUT from the pictures I also see some nice clean and new cages. It is possible he was transitioning old cages out to replace them and this takes awhile. But again all i can say for sure is there are new cages in there. Not all of them are ugly.

    About the multiple rabbits in cages. I had three babies in with momma at 10 weeks old. They were housed in a 24x30 cage. I have now since removed the boys and left the girl with her mom but from the pictures I have seen the multiple caged rabbits were a mom and her litter. From what the mini rex looked I would guess they were 6-9 weeks old. Honestly this is the age that we recommend to other people on here to start removing babies. Babies grow pretty quickly especially when they get moms milk and pellets. We never give advice to remove babies early and breeders dont like to do it either. So are we going to say that that was too many rabbits for one cage when the babies are only 6 weeks old? I highly doubt that. You dont know how old the rabbits are pictured but from my experience with babies they dont look old enough. Of course I dont know for sure.

    They may not be living their natural life but you cannot expect a breeder to do that with more than 5 rabbits. Depending on how much room they have. Space for us is limited and no we dont have ours in a natural life setting either but does that mean our rabbits arent happy? Who is to say that? My rabbits binky all the time in their cages and do the tan 500. Smaller rabbitries are able to give rabbits that outside running time but you cant expect a larger operation to do it also. Really. . . so should I also start collecting china dolls?

    Personally I feel like I do need to defend him. If it happened to him whose saying it could not happen to me?
     
  16. Jun 21, 2013 #16

    Kipcha

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    We have 16 rabbits in the house right now and they all get outside time, cuddles, large cages, etc. We make it work. So I do have higher expectations for the breeders that have less then we do.

    Fact of the matter is, I don't see how that many rabbits can be properly cared for. I find ours sometimes a little overwhelming but I still try to do right by them.

    I am not saying that yours are mistreated, I've seen how nice your rabbits are treated, nor do I expect rabbit breeders to have rabbits free roam around their home, but at the same time I would certainly hope conditions would be better then what I saw from that home. Those rabbits didn't have a whole lot of room and if he didn't have the space, you really shouldn't have that many rabbits...
     
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  17. Jun 21, 2013 #17

    woahlookitsme

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    I meant having them in the space that is instructed by the society that people refer to and letting them out for so many hours etc. Without the right amount of space or time no breeder can do that with 50+ (and that is the majority of breeders average number in a herd). You are right probably no one can do that with 50+ rabbits but that is not the standard of care for every person that owns rabbits. Just because a society makes it such a "rule" does not mean that everyone listens to it or agrees to it. People may look down upon that but you have to be realistic.

    Here is an update and statement from a friend of the rabbits owner, Rick, and his partner, Sandy.
    "A note of thanks and advice from Rick and Sandy,
    Rick and Sandy have asked me to fill everyone in as best as I can concerning the events surrounding the seizure of Rick’s rabbits and all of his equipment. They have read through this and feel it is an accurate summation of the situation.

    They first want to thank everyone for the outpouring of concern, love, and support as news spread. They know that some of you who have donated they have never met and they greatly appreciate all of the thoughtful comments, calls, and notes that have been passed their way. They appreciate the donations and the efforts to raise funds to help them keep their animals. They are truly amazed by the support and want you to know that it has been a huge positive in an overall bad situation.

    Unfortunately as is often the case there was little to be done. On all levels of raising livestock we are fighting a battle against a group of individuals who are doing their best to eliminate animals as a source of companionship, enjoyment, and as a food source. Slowly over time public perception has shifted to believe that the animal rights activists are the experts on animal care. We have allowed them to do so, by allowing them to press the issue and by not proving our understanding of raising animals, in this case the rabbits that Rick cared for. Rick and Sandy are not claiming that everything was in perfect condition at Rick’s house when the animals were seized, but as most everyone saw from the photos, the animals appeared to be in healthy condition. They firmly believe that one of the biggest issues with the entire situation is that
    even if the rabbits were in clean cages a lot of the remaining items were dirty and detracted from the appearance of home. Upon seizure every animal was inspected by a vet at the IACC. I myself saw many of the vet comments at the animal shelter and aside from a few mentions of nails trimmed healthy was the only word on most every single cage. The video of the animals being transported has rightfully infuriated many as whole cages were piled into cargo trailers with no ventilation. Some of those animals stressed and showed symptoms of snuffles or pasteurellosis, those animals were immediately surrendered to hopefully protect the rest of the herd. Last Friday June 14th I was allowed to help Rick in his efforts to sort through the animals. I was amazed to learn that even though the method of transport was crude the IACC had managed to get every animal to the shelter alive. Rabbits however are not the primary concern of most animal control offices and because we have allowed others to dictate proper care standards many of the animals wound up with cardboard in their cages, or bedded on straw. On Wednesday upon our return to gather up Rick’s belongings many of the pristine animals are now dirty.

    Rick does not wish to feign innocence in all of this, that every cage was perfectly clean and there was no grime or manure anywhere, he wants this to be a learning experience for everyone else. They both feel that the interior of the cages were all in all clean for the animals as is evidenced by the appearance of the animals, but obviously the exterior of the cages, the walls etc needed a deeper cleaning. We as breeders know how quickly rabbit fur can build up, but the general public does not. All of these are issues that we must do a better job of maintaining if
    we want to win in the court of public opinion. They see this as an opportunity if you will for the rest of us, to realize how important appearances are to the uneducated outside world. He wants us to realize that our level of care must be such that no one can question our desire to raise happy healthy animals. Quality show stock must be given quality care if you wish to succeed on the show-table, we as exhibitors understand this, but the level and standard of care that is expected must be raised.

    Rick wants you to know that he wanted to fight this battle, and that your support was a tremendous help, but the lack of support or even comment from our governing body ARBA was disheartening. Only one of the district directors or officers contacted Rick at all during the last week, and that phone call was to offer words of sympathy, not any real plan of action. In conversations with our Executive Director Rick was told about the great work a special committee is doing to help educate the general public and our legislators about raising rabbits, but was left without any help to combat the issue at hand. We want you to know that it appears we are all on our own in this, and that this must change. The ARBA must have a course of action for any future animal control seizures. We must be proactive in promoting showing and demonstrating proper care and maintenance of our barns and our herds. When individuals within the ARBA are not doing their part to live up to the standards we expect, we as other breeders need to call them out on it and resolve to all do a better job long before any animal control center ever needs to be involved. When complaints are raised by neighbors we need to be proactive in discussing with our neighbors what the issue is and doing anything we can, within reason, to eliminate the problem. ARBA must be a leader, and in a great moment to show all of us what needs done, our leaders have failed us. They have failed to respond at all. For too long we have bowed to animal rights activists and stuck our heads in the sand when issues were raised. I have yet to meet a breeder who genuinely dislikes their animals. No one like that would last in our hobby, but when breeders make mistakes we must be the first to take action. If the ARBA board did not see this as a teaching moment, both for other breeders, but also for the general public at large then what was it? We encourage you to open up dialog with your district director and discover what was said or done for yourselves. Rick and Sandy know that no support was offered, no recommendations were given, and for that they are rightfully disappointed and discouraged.

    When Rick got to court Wednesday he was informed that the bond price to save his herd had been increased to over $22,000, not including lawyer fees or potential fines and penalties after a court hearing. With no way to justify this he was given one option, surrender the entire herd(he was allowed to keep up to 15 spayed or neutered animals if he so chose) allow animal control to keep all but 15 of his cages and never breed rabbits in the county of Marion, IN again. Rick and Sandy were also informed that residents of Marion County are only allowed to have rabbits as pets. By agreeing to their terms he avoided the $22,000 bond and all fines and penalties that could have been levied against him at a later date. I know at times we all feel small and helpless, and in this moment I know Rick felt the same. What choice did he have?
    Unfortunately this is not the end. Sandy is under attack at her property as well, not for animal care violations or concerns but for zoning and ordinance issues. According to the information on hand there is no law regarding how many animals she may care for, but a building on her property since before she bought the house is apparently too large and without a building permit. Sandy is being told that she is only allowed to use this building to serve the main dwelling of her house and not for housing animals. She is being told that raising rabbits as anything other than pets in a non-agricultural zone is against Marion County code. This is a prime opportunity for ARBA to step in but again no one is offering advice or support. The legal ramifications of what this could mean for Marion County rabbit breeders is huge. Legal advice in this time would be greatly appreciated.
    There will always be those who disagree with us on how our animals should be cared for. It is our responsibility as breeders to make sure that we are the standard bearers for rabbit husbandry, not those that feel rabbits are better off in a diaper. Science and research and information must be promoted and published to protect our rights because we do not know which one of us could be the cause of a complaint next."
     
  18. Jun 21, 2013 #18

    BabyMiyo

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    I know nothing compared to you guys, but even though the cage interiors are clean and the animals are healthy, those are still pretty dismal living conditions. :(

    The cages look small and have wired floors with no blanket for relief, no toys, no hay, and so many animals caged together must mean an awful stink. Breeder standards might be different than pet owner standards, but "clean bill of health" isn't the pinnacle of animal welfare. Take a look a the SPCA's five freedoms. If you don't have the space, time and money to happily house and care for all your rabbits, don't keep them, don't force them all to live on less just because you want to cram in 400 of them. Don't force a large rabbitry on your limited resources.

    Animal welfare means to see things from the point of view of the individual rabbit, not of the breeder. :thanks:
     
  19. Jun 21, 2013 #19

    Kipcha

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    I was not referring to HRS rules. Not even I agree with everything they list as a "rule" so I was not listing them as an example.

    No, I am going by quality of life standards. I understand that a breeder can't spend hours upon hours with each individual animal but what sort of life must it be to simply be one face in 400? It must have been pretty boring for them, sit there and watch life pass them by, probably not getting any attention unless they were a "prized" animal. How many of them simply received the basics, not even a head rub in passing?

    I just find it sad.
     
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  20. Jun 21, 2013 #20

    Azerane

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    Now that's just rubbing salt in the wound isn't it. I suppose of course that that law doesn't apply to dogs or cats etc, because they're "normal" animals, unlike rabbits which are apparently so awful that they can't be bred in a residential zone. Despite the fact that rabbits are by far the quietest of the three, lol. There's no way they're bringing this up because they police it well, they just decided that it was a problem while they were already at it. No way they're going to go around the place charging every single rabbit breeder in the area, even the ones that have a couple of rabbits and have maybe one or two litters a year! Ridiculous.
     
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