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Remaining Gowanus Rabbits Rescued After Owner Goes to Jail

 One of the rabbits rescued from behind a Gowanus tire shop on March 1, 2017.
One of the rabbits rescued from behind a Gowanus tire shop on March 1, 2017.
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Tiffanie Fisher

GOWANUS — Authorities rescued a herd of rabbits Wednesday that had been left to fend for themselves after their owner went to jail for animal abuse.

Workers with Animal Care Centers of NYC removed 15 bunnies from behind a tire shop on Third Avenue and 10th Street, an ACC spokeswoman said.

The animals once belonged to convicted animal abuser Dorota Trec, who started a 45-day sentence Friday for mistreating her pet rabbits. Trec was arrested in 2015 after keeping roughly 200 rabbits in substandard conditions where they developed serious injuries and illnesses including syphilis.

Trec continued to acquire new rabbits during her criminal trial. After she was sentenced, animal welfare advocates visited the property where she kept the bunnies and spotted about 30 there. Advocates saw that some of the rabbits were injured and took them immediately to ACC.

    One of the rabbits that ACC workers rescued from behind a Gowanus tire shop on March 1, 2017. Photo: Tiffanie Fisher

On Wednesday, ACC workers and volunteers spent about 90 minutes searching the dirt yard for the remaining rabbits, said volunteer Tiffanie Fisher. ACC employees used a long flexible metal pole to probe deep into burrows the bunnies had dug, Fisher said.

     An ACC worker poses with the last rabbit rescued from behind a Gowanus tire shop on March 1. Photo: Tiffanie Fisher

It appeared that all the remaining rabbits were rescued Wednesday, but Fisher and other volunteers left hay and greens behind just in case a wayward hungry bunny needed a snack. They'll continue to monitor the property to see if shy rabbits emerge from hiding places, she said.

Fisher is now working on finding adoptive parents for the dozens of Trec's rabbits that need homes. She's also hoping to collect monetary donations for the rabbit rescue groups that have pitched in.

"I would love for this whole saga to end with a positive tone," Fisher said. "The rabbit community really came together, and ACC was really great."

The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals will host adoption events later this month to help find homes for the pets, and people interested in adopting can also check the ACC website for information.

As part of her sentence, Trec is barred from owning any animals for five years, and she must register as an animal abuser with the city Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. Probation authorities can search Trec's property at any time upon her return home from jail to make sure she doesn't acquire any new pets, officials said.