A California rabbit breeder faces up to five years in jail after having been convicted of 12 charges of failure to care for animals. 65-year old Mario Albert De La Garza, who lives near Aptos in the Santa Cruz area had been keeping more than 100 rabbits. Stephen Baxter reported on the case in yesterday’s Santa Cruz Sentinel. Here are highlights:
Todd Stosuy, field services manager for the Santa Cruz County Animal Shelter, said he was satisfied with the outcome of the trial.
“The rabbits were living in their own filth,” Stosuy said. “If you neglect or abuse an animal in Santa Cruz County, you will be held accountable in a court of law.”
Animal Shelter staff had monitored De La Garza’s breeding facility and spoken with him since 2004, Stosuy said.
Shelter staff visited the property near Freedom Boulevard and Hidden Oaks Lane several times in scheduled appointments and found it in compliance.
When the staff showed up unannounced at the property in November 2011, they found 114 rabbits covered with urine and feces, according to the animal shelter.
Many rabbits lived in cages with 4 inches or more of excrement on the floor, authorities said. Other rabbits had untreated problems such as conjunctivitis and rashes, according to court documents.
Some rabbits were missing an ear because it apparently had been cut off, the documents stated.
During a trial this month, De La Garza acted as his own attorney. He testified that he essentially tried to use natural selection and a genetic technique to create a new breed of rabbits.
After a weeklong trial that ended Friday, a jury took only a few hours of deliberation on Monday to convict him.
You can see the full report online at http://www.santacruzsentinel.com/localnews/ci_23771457/aptos-rabbit-breeder-convicted-animal-neglect
Hoppington Post would like to thank The Rabbit Haven and their director, Heather Bechtel for their work in helping to care for and arrange for adoptions of such a large number of rescued rabbits. In our opinion, more work needs to be done to prevent breeders from keeping more rabbits than they are able to care for properly.