Rabbits found left in city park
Local photographer Thomas Voght said he and his wife were in Myers Park on Monday around 5:45 p.m. doing a photo shoot for a client when they saw a white domestic rabbit.
“We knew right away it was a domestic rabbit because we’ve had rabbits,” Voght said Tuesday.
With some effort, Voght said his wife was able to catch the rabbit. They called a nearby friend who picked it up so they could finish the photo session.
Initially Voght said he assumed someone’s pet rabbit had gotten loose. He and his wife asked the few people who were in the park that day if they lost a rabbit, or knew someone who had, and made a Facebook post saying they found it.
Friends on Facebook messaged Voght saying a number of rabbits had been found in the park.
“We didn’t know about it until we made a post on Facebook and people were responding saying there was a post on Facebook about a bunch of rabbits dumped in the park,” Voght said. “We only saw one.”
Voght said he called the city police station Tuesday morning and told the dispatcher that he had located a rabbit in the park. He said the dispatcher took down his information, telling him police had been made aware of the rabbits.
City Animal Control Officer Richard Schuyler confirmed Wednesday that a woman had called the station last week to report having found eight rabbits in Myers Park.
Schuyler said he was off duty when she called and spoke with her the following day. The woman secured the rabbits when she found them and subsequently located suitable homes for them.
Schuyler said he had not seen the rabbits, but the woman told him they all appeared to be healthy.
“As of now we’re not sure how they may have ended up in Myers Park,” Schuyler said. “There are no cameras in Myers Park and no eyewitnesses. We believe they were possibly dumped or they may have gotten out of a kennel.”
Hagaman resident and lifelong farmer Emily Shuttleworth said Tuesday that seven of the rabbits had been brought to her and an eighth rabbit was with another woman.
“Besides the condition of their fur they seem pretty healthy,” Shuttleworth said.
Shuttleworth said the rabbits had severely matted hair when they were brought to her a week earlier with sawdust, food pellets and feces stuck in their fur.
“They were obviously stuck in cages by the stuff that’s stuck in the fur,” Shuttleworth said. “It wasn’t outdoor food or sawdust.”
Shuttleworth said she has been working to get the mattes out of the fur of the six long haired and one short haired rabbit, taking her time to avoid hurting them, and spending time socializing with the affectionate creatures.
Living on a farm with a number of animals, Shuttleworth said she’s well prepared to care for the rabbits and already has a large rabbit hutch that she plans to fix up for them.
“We’re very equipped for them,” Shuttleworth said. “I plan on making a nice fenced in yard for them and when it’s cold I can bring them in because they are very friendly.”
While the rabbits are doing well in their new home, Shuttleworth expressed sadness over the young rabbits’ seemingly sudden appearance in the park, worrying that they were abandoned there.
“They were all in one spot suddenly, they dispersed in an hour or so and there were a lot of them,” Shuttleworth said. “It hurts my heart.”
Shuttleworth estimated the age of the youngest rabbits between four and five months old, saying none of them are fully grown. Based on the appearance and long fur of six of the rabbits she said they could be Angoras.
“They’re not even equipped to survive in the wild. They’re bred to be pets, to be companions,” Shuttleworth said.
The rabbit Voght found also has long hair and he said it looks like a Lionhead, another domestic breed.
“The rabbit appeared to be in rough shape,” Voght said. “Obviously somebody didn’t care about this rabbit.”
Voght said the animal looked thin and had matted fur the day it was found, but was looking better when he visited it the next day after it had been given a bath and some of the mattes had been worked out.
“It looks so much healthier today,” Voght said. “The rabbit is eating very good.”
“The rabbit’s got a good home now, the rabbit is actually living with our friends that have another rabbit,” he added.
Schuyler said there haven’t been any other reported rabbit sightings and he hasn’t seen any signs of them while checking the park.
“I’m in the park every day and I’ve seen absolutely nothing there,” Schuyler said. “Had police had possible suspects or evidence they were abandoned we could possibly pursue for animal abandonment, but as of right now we have absolutely nothing to go on.”
Schuyler reminded residents to contact police if they have any information regarding the rabbits in Myers Park or if they see animals they believe have been abandoned.
Shuttleworth asked visitors to Myers Park and the surrounding area to be on the lookout for additional rabbits.
“Keep an eye out for them, because they’re not equipped to survive,” Shuttleworth said. “If anyone happens to find some more of the rabbits and cannot find a home for them I am willing to take them.”