Monmouth Man Charged with Abandoning White Rabbit

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Monmouth Man Charged with Abandoning White Rabbit

By Maryann Spoto, Star-Ledger
April 2009

Hope the bunny beat odds, predators by surviving three weeks in wild

A Monmouth County man has been charged with releasing his family's pet rabbit into the wild, a practice that animal experts fear may be repeated by others who buy bunnies, chicks or ducklings at Easter, then decide they can no longer care for such animals.

Jong Park, 51, of the Morgan ville section of Marlboro was charged with the disorderly offenses of abandonment and failure to provide proper food, water and shelter, said Victor "Buddy" Amato, chief animal cruelty officer for the Monmouth County SPCA. The charges, which carry a possible $2,000 fine, are to be heard in municipal court, Amato said.

Amato said he filed the charges after interviewing family members, who said they released the rabbit after she grew too big for her cage.

Neighbors alerted authorities after they spotted the white rabbit in the woods where she was abandoned about three weeks ago, Amato said.

Suffering from severe dehydration and tick infestation, Hope was rescued three days ago, Amato said. The bunny weighed about 10 pounds but should have been about five pounds heavier for her age, he said.

"This was not a gray cottontail. This was a domesticated white rab bit," Amato said. "It is amazing it survived a couple weeks in the woods. This animal should not have survived. Any kind of predator could have gotten it."

The family adopted the bunny last Easter from a friend whose pet rabbit had a litter, he said.

The family did not return a message left at the home.

Animal experts and health officials have long warned families against buying or adopting rabbits, ducklings or chicks, particularly at Easter. "At Easter, it's all cute and fine and good, but when they get big, what are they going to do with it?" Amato said.

"The dumping of unwanted, domesticated farm animals along our roadways or in our parks is cruel and thoughtless treatment as they cannot take care of themselves and either starve or get injured by a motor vehicle," said Ella Boyd, public health coordinator for the Ocean County Department of Health and a licensed veterinarian. "It is sad and unnecessary."

Hope will be offered for adoption when she reaches her appropriate weight, Amato said.

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