GOWANUS — The rabbit owner who raised nearly 200 bunnies behind a Third Avenue tire shop where many of the animals suffered from injuries and disease was convicted Monday of animal cruelty — but there are still more bunnies under her care, law enforcement sources said.
Dorota Trec was found guilty of 100 counts of misdemeanor animal cruelty and is scheduled to be sentenced Jan. 17, according to court records. She faces up to two years in jail.
Despite her March 2015 arrest on animal cruelty charges and subsequent trial, Trec has continued to keep rabbits as pets and currently cares for six dozen cottontails in the same yard where police seized 179 of her pets last year, according to a recent New York Times profile.
Authorities confiscated the first set of rabbits after veterinarians examined the animals and found that many had bite wounds, torn ears, missing fur and other injuries that were likely the result of fights and living in confined spaces. The cottontails also had illness including syphilis and conjunctivitis.
At the request of prosecutors, the judge presiding over Trec's animal cruelty trial signed an order Monday that forces Trec to surrender her current herd of rabbits to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, a law enforcement source said. Under the order, Trec will be allowed to request that someone of her choosing take custody of the rabbits and care for them, a source said.
The rabbits that police seized from Trec's custody in 2015 were sent to several different animal shelters and were eventually adopted by members of the public after a series of adoption fairs. Meanwhile, Trec rebuilt her flock and even installed a store-style sign on Third Avenue advertising the rabbits' presence.
Animal welfare advocates first became concerned about Trec's rabbits in 2014 after DNAinfo New York wrote about the animals eating chicken wings and living in a dirt lot beneath Gowanus subway tracks.