On Friday, a 36-year-old Brooklyn woman will be sentenced for hoarding and mistreating nearly 200 rabbits in a case she calls “ridiculous.” The woman claims she is the victim of a “witch hunt” animal activists conducted against her. If the judge finds her guilty of mistreating the animals she risks a hefty fine and jail time.
Dorota Trec said that in 2000 she was alone and wanted an animal companion. So, she bought her first pet bunny – Snowflake. Fifteen years later, authorities found she had 176 animals in a vacant lot behind an abandoned tire shop in Brooklyn. She now risks being put behind bars for up to two years for her unusual hobby.
A ‘Ridiculous’ Trial
The trial lasted about two years and is due to end Friday in the Brooklyn criminal court. Throughout the trial, the woman said she was innocent even though animal activists produced evidence she kept the animals in very poor conditions. Some of her pets developed multiple types of injuries and conditions including syphilis.
“This whole trial has been ridiculous, starting with the accusations that were based on nothing,”
the “bunny hoarder,” as she is often referred to, said.
Trec argues her accusers are a group of people who hate people who have animals. She added they’re making use of her situation to prove she mistreated them.
She said that more than 10 years ago, she became very attached to Snowflake. In addition, she grew a fascination with the furry creatures. She is convinced everyone has a mission and hers is to care for rabbits. In a recent interview, she said she had the opportunity to observe how special the animals are in the ten years she spent with her first rabbit. She said the cottontails are so special they cannot even compare to dogs or cats.
In 2010, Snowflake passed away. The day he died she said she lost a friend but she also realized she was a “rabbit girl” whose life should be dedicated to rabbits. So, she became very proficient in raising rabbits through both study and hands-on experience during her childhood.
After extensive research, she reached the conclusion rabbits thrive outdoors. She noted they are very social animals that live in large groups in the wild. By contrast, experts advise rabbit owners who keep them as pets to keep them indoors. Unlike dog or cat owners, rabbit lovers do not have a wealth of literature on how to raise the pets.
Curious Case of Animal Hoarding
Two years after Snowflake’s death, she built a shelter for rabbits behind and abandoned tire shop in Gowanus neighborhood. She said the owner of the lot agreed with the construction. Moreover, she claims the shop’s owner had helped her make the place as rabbit-friendly as it could be. The site allowed the animals to roam free and had wooden hutches. Rabbits were also able to dig caves and tunnels there. The woman said her love for rabbits consumed four hours of her time every day.
The rabbit colony continued to grow until January 2015 when ASPCA employees and police officers raided the lot to rescue the animals. Animal activists had told them the animals were held in “deplorable” conditions.
Mental health experts explained animal hoarding is a pathological condition. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders added it to the list of mental health disorders in 2015. Psychologists acknowledge, though, that it is a very poorly understood phenomenon.
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