Hundreds of Bunnies Confiscated After Two Breeders Are Busted

Posted by Ian Elwood, ALDF's Online Editor on June 14, 2013

What would cause someone to stack rabbits four high in wire cages inside a ramshackle garage or yard, and allow the urine and feces to pile up so high that animals are living in their own waste? You might guess that only a hoarder—or someone with a similar psychological condition—would do this. But there is another reason someone might be driven to keep animals in such horrid conditions. Profit.

Indiana Rabbit Breeder's Backyard

In Indianapolis on Tuesday over 375 rabbits were seized after neighbors complained about the smell. When Animal Control officers showed up they saw cages caked in feces, and rabbits standing in their own waste. Many of the rabbits had the fur rubbed off their paws from standing on wire bottom cages. Animal control officers confiscated the rabbits from the home of Rick Cartheuser, Vice President of the Indiana State Rabbit Breeders Association—an organization which has promoted rabbits for meat, wool, fur, and laboratory use throughout its history. He sold the rabbits as pets, as “feeders” for reptiles, and used the “best” rabbits to display at “rabbit shows.” Despite previous warnings, Cartheuser had not improved the living conditions of the rabbits.

But other rabbit breeders rallied behind Cartheuser after the bust—presumably because they recognize that exposure of this sort would damage the reputation of their industry. When your business is run on the exploitation of rabbits, not all press is good press.

What does it say about an industry when someone facing charges for care and treatment violations is considered the “best in show?” Animal Control is now inundated with rabbits and working with rescue groups to place them in foster homes and to get them adopted.

Raised for Meat

Thousands of miles away, a similar situation unfolded only a few days earlier. 52 rabbits were confiscated by animal control in Sacramento on Sunday, after seven rabbits kept outside in 107 degree heat died the day before. The owner was raising these rabbits for meat, feeding them nothing but an unnatural diet of bread, and keeping them in crowded cages. These bunnies were no different than the ones you see up for adoption at the shelter, yet they were being “farmed” as agricultural commodities with little to no regard for their safety or welfare.

What Can You Do?

The standard “backyard breeder” rabbit housing is no different than a battery cage at a factory farm. The law can prosecute people in extreme cases, but in many places there are no rules preventing people from keeping hundreds of rabbits in cramped wire cages in the first place. As long as there is a financial incentive to breed rabbits, people will breed them—legally or not.

Kiko, a bunny saved from backyard slaughter

Kiko is a rabbit raised in similarly neglectful conditions, who has now been adopted into a loving indoor home

What we can do for rabbits today—and for all animals—is to refuse to support industries that profit from harming them. Refusing to buy animals, eat animals, wear animal skins, or otherwise financially support the use of animal products is the best thing you can do to help all animals right now. Rabbit breeders and others who would harm animals for profit cannot do business if we don’t support them.

If you live close to Sacramento or Indianapolis, please consider opening your home to a rabbit (or a pair!). To learn more about caring for rabbits as indoor companion animals, see the House Rabbit Society‘s website.


  • Cartheuser reached an agreement with a judge to surrender 375 rabbits, and was allowed to keep 15. The rabbits that will remain in his possession will be spayed and neutered to prevent breeding, and animal control will check up on them periodically.


3 thoughts on “Hundreds of Bunnies Confiscated After Two Breeders Are Busted

  1. Lisa, Animal Lover! says:

    REALLY? He’s allowed to keep any? There are no rules preventing people from keeping hundreds of rabbits in cramped wire cages … well, this law SUCKS, let’s take them and put them in cramped cages with no food, water in high temp heat and lets see how the hell they like it!!! F*CKERS! What have these poor innocent animals ever done to us to deserve this kind of treatment? We are supposed to be the superior being here but we sure as hell do not act like it when we humans do things like this to innocent animals. People who torture other sentient beings, is a monster, an enormous dreadful beast. What is wrong with us? Does it make us feel powerful and almighty to inflict pain and suffering to another living being that cannot defend themselves against such an evil creature as the human? It’s disgraceful that we harm and torture innocent sentient beings. This is nothing to be proud of, it’s shameful and embarrassing. Any human that can inflict so much pain on another living being is a LOSER and PATHETIC SOB! They’re a failure to humanity and the same thing should be done to them as they have done, it’s only fair. They need to understand what it feels like to be alone with no one to help them while they’re being tortured and in excruciating pain. They need to know what these animals are going through. How the hell would they like it? I’m so ashamed to be part of race that is so greedy and evil.

  2. Susan Pateracki says:

    Since Fur Farms hide out in our country. They are probably using them for fur to make money.

    On and on with the fight against the Fur Industry.

  3. Bunchick says:

    Humans are the devils in disguise

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