Tyranny & Injustice: Outrageous Raid on Woman’s Colorado Rabbit Farm from Anonymous Animal Abuse Hotline Call
Posted By Vicki McClure Davidson on August 13, 2011
A few months ago, I highlighted blogger Bob McCarty’s story about the Dollarhite family in Missouri that faced millions of dollars in fines from the government because they had sold “too many bunnies” from their farm.
This rabbit raid story in Colorado is even more outrageous.
Reported by Bob McCarty, Big Government, Anonymous Call to New Animal Abuse Hotline Leads to Raid on Colorado Woman’s Rabbit Farm:
Debe Bell will probably never forget Thursday, July 21. It was the day she found herself surrounded by people from her local law enforcement agency, and they weren’t there to help.
Unlike John Dollarhite of Nixa, Mo., and several magicians across the country who’ve been hounded and threatened with massive fines by agents from the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, Bell had to go face to face with her hare-brained local sheriff.
An anonymous Crime Stoppers hotline tip led animal control officers from the Jefferson County (Colo.) Sheriff’s Office to descend upon Bell’s one-acre farm at about 10:30 that morning and, before the day was over, remove nearly 200 rabbits from the property. The 59 year old was being accused of 24 misdemeanor charges of cruelty to animals, including charges that she somehow mistreated two meat rabbits already inside her freezer.
Bell had purchased the 1.01-acre property 12 miles north of Denver nearly 40 years earlier with plans to raise as much livestock as she wanted. After all, it was zoned for agricultural purposes (“A-2”) and had everything she needed, including a four-bedroom, tri-level home and a 600-square-foot barn. It looked like a great place to raise a family.
About 15 years later, Bell formed Six Bells Farm Candle Company and Rabbitry as a licensed farm business. Launched as an offshoot of a 4-H project via which she taught her four children how to take care of something other than themselves, it grew into an operation that involved raising more than a dozen varieties of rabbits, primarily for personal meat consumption but also for use in educating children — including kids involved in 4-H — and members of the general public nationwide.
As the years passed, Bell’s expertise and reputation grew alongside her rabbit farm. Not only did she become president of the local Long’s Peak Rabbit Club, but she became known as the go-to “resource person” for 4-H kids in Colorado who were interested in rabbits. Her reputation as a top expert when it comes to understanding and caring for rabbits spread throughout Colorado and across the United States. But that was before the raid.
“They told me four, five or six times (that) they were taking the animals no matter what,” Bell said, noting that she pointed out to them several times that there was nothing wrong with the animals or the conditions in which they were living.
When an officer told Bell the rabbits were living in “deplorable conditions,” she told him he was wrong.
“They are not living in deplorable conditions,” she said. “Their cages are clean. The trays are underneath them. We’re cleaning this weekend.”
Bell went on to explain to the officer that kids from the local 4-H organization who are involved in raising rabbits come out every weekend to help clean cages and do other things related to the care of the rabbits.
McCarty’s horrific story details everything that happened to Bell and her rabbits the day of the raid — including someone from the sheriff’s office leaving the barn door wide open in the summer heat and messing around with and turning off the water flow to the swamp cooler that kept the rabbits cool in the barn.
My blood is boiling. Click here to read McCarty’s full story — your blood will be boiling about the tyranny and injustice as well.
There are so many things wrong here, it’s stunning. There was no search warrant. There was no evidence nor history of abuse or wrongdoing. The hotline call about animal abuse on the farm was made anonymously. The sheriff’s seizure of the rabbits was made by people with no background nor training in the proper care, handling, or transport of small animals — the way they packed up the rabbits to take them away from the farm grievously endangered the lives of the very animals they claimed to be “saving.” The farm was properly zoned for what Bell was using it for — she herself is a long-time animal expert and a main contact for the 4-H.
Bell was threatened with arrest several times, was treated like a criminal, was determined guilty without any investigation or trial, and was told if she didn’t turn over the rabbits to the sheriff that day, she faced enormous fines she couldn’t afford to pay.
The animal rights group that reported her, it turns out, are members of House Rabbit Society, which Bell told law enforcement want all rabbits to be raised much like small human children.
I couldn’t believe that nonsense, so I checked out House Rabbit Society’s website.
Oh, dear Lord. She was right.
Here is their “philosophy”:
- The House Rabbit Society believes that ALL rabbits are valuable as individuals, regardless of breed purity, temperament, state of health, or relationship to humans. The welfare of all rabbits is our primary consideration.
- In line with our mission, we are against the exploitation of rabbits.
- Except for unique situations, in which wild animals are being nursed or rehabilitated, it is in the best interest of wild rabbits that human intervention be held to a minimum.
- Domestic rabbits are not the product of natural selection, but rather of human interference by means of breeding programs, and the product is a human-dependent animal who needs protection. It is therefore a human responsibility that these animals be cared for in a manner appropriate to their needs.
- It is in the best interest of domestic rabbits to be neutered/spayed, to live in human housing where supervision and protection are provided, and to be treated for illnesses by veterinarians.
- Domestic rabbits are companion animals and should be afforded at least the same individual rights, level of care, and opportunity for longevity as commonly afforded to dogs and cats who live as human companions.
- Rabbits are intelligent, social animals who require mental stimulation, toys, exercise, environmental activity, and social interaction (from, as appropriate, people, other rabbits, or other animals).
It’s frightening that one phone call from people who think rabbits should be treated like small children are able to destroy a woman’s life, reputation, and livelihood like this. It’s frightening that law enforcement can sweep in like they did, prompted by an anonymous phone call that came from a wacky animal group, frightening that they can devastate and destroy in a single day everything that a law-abiding woman has worked hard to achieve over more than 25 years.
One anonymous phone call. Who’s next?
God bless America.