Rabbit Advocacy Animal Matters


Houston SPCA Rescues 1,000 Animals from Backyard Breeder 

July 20, 2010 Sharon Seltzer, Care2  

Acting on an anonymous tip from a concerned citizen, the Houston SPCA Animal Cruelty Investigation Team rescued and removed 1,079 animals from a private home on July 15.


The animals included dozens of dogs, rabbits, hamsters and a large variety of exotic birds.  All of the animals were living in dirty, cramped cages without proper food and water.  The birds appeared to be the victims of the most severe neglect. 


The Houston SPCA blog reported that when their team arrived at the home along with officials from the Harris County Constable’s office, they found hundreds of macaws, cockatiels and parakeets living in deplorable conditions.  Birds were kept in overcrowded cages that were scattered around the property. Many of the exotic birds were kept in small storage units and each of the hundreds of cages was equipped with breeding boxes.


The SPCA reported that some of the birds were dead and some were dying.  One dead bird was found hanging from a trap where it was being used as “bait.” All of the cages were covered with built-up waste, old food and cobwebs.


According to the SPCA, the man and woman that live in the house have a Breeder’s license and were running a breeding business from their home. SPCA spokesperson Meera Nandial said, “From what we understand, (the owners) were selling them to pet stores.”  There is also speculation the couple was selling the animals to flea markets and individual buyers.


“The animals were being held in cages crammed inside storage sheds on the property.  Many did not have food or water.  Those (cages) that do have water – it’s not fresh.  There doesn’t appear to be a lot of new food in the cages," Nandial continued.


The team also found a shed full of cardboard boxes used for transporting birds.  The boxes were stamped with the words, “Live Birds Rush.”  Apparently the breeders were shipping or mailing birds directly from their home.


The animals were rescued and relocated to the Houston SPCA facility where they will each undergo a veterinary examination. A court date will be set within 10 days where a judge will determine who will take custody of the animals. 


The Future Of Backyard Breeders 


Unfortunately stories like this are in the news too often.   But recent legislation and proposed laws in several parts of the country are bringing hope to the plight of animals kept by backyard breeders and large commercial breeders. 


San Francisco and West Hollywood are trying to eliminate the problem by placing restrictions on pet shops.  Backyard breeders and puppy mills will cease to exist if there is no one to buy their animals.


The theory behind these types of laws is twofold:  First it will stop impulse buyers who fall in love with a cute pet, but soon tire of them once they get home and second it will lead people to adopt pets from animal shelters and rescue groups.  Care2 writer Jake Richardson addresses the problem of impulse buying and the proposed San Francisco law in his story titled, “Pet Sales Ban in San Francisco Tabled.”


West Hollywood blocked backyard breeders when they voted on an ordinance earlier this year that only permits pet shops to “re-home” rescued or shelter animals.  


Nationwide more than 500 independent pet shops have voluntarily signed the HSUS pledge to stop selling puppies at their stores.  And currently The Puppy Uniform Protection and Safety (PUPS) Act is gathering support to close up a loophole that allows breeders like the couple in Houston from continuing to profit from the suffering of animals. 


The Act will add regulations to backyard breeders and breeders that sell directly to the public or pet shops.  A story called, “Protect Puppies From Unlicensed Puppy Mills,” discusses this loophole.


Comment: In Canada, there are many groups and individuals calling on all levels of government to update regulations pertaining to animals. Rabbit Advocacy is one of those groups leading the way for change.


It cannot be said enough; do not buy any animal, bird, or other assorted critters from pet stores. You are only enabling suffering and cruelty. The victims of this industry endure horrific conditions, from confinement to tiny cramped cages, to lack of socialization and veterinary care. They are treated as objects to make money. Many have genetic problems caused by over-breeding, and others have behavioural issues.  Be sure to report concerns to local authorities - get involved and add your voice to those taking action to make a difference. Give a homeless pet a second chance.


August 1, 2013 Over 200 animals rescued from shocking conditions in Texas


September 19, 2014 Dozens of rabbits and hamsters seized from home

Comment: There has been discussion in the animal rescue community regarding the decision to euthanize some of the rabbits and hamsters. It was noted that many small, volunteer-run organizations go at great lengths to provide medical attention to animals they’ve rescued, despite costs. However, it may have been that despite medical attention these little critters wouldn’t have made it. Sadly, the punishment through the courts won’t fit the severity of the crime. Write to your MLA and ask that animal cruelty laws be strengthened and that a database of animal abusers be created. These animals were seized from professional rabbit breeders.

So, by all means, go down to the CHS to see all the rabbits available for adoption and consider giving one a second chance. September is also rabbit adoption month.

Update: The two residents are each facing 184 criminal code charges, one count of willfully causing unnecessary pain and suffering and one count of failing to provide food or water for each of the animals removed from the home. The fact that the investigation was carried out in conjunction with the Calgary police speaks to the severity, said Brad Nichols, manager of CHS cruelty department. Absolutely horrific. We were told that Chris Berry was a former president of the Southern Alberta Rabbit Breeders Association. (SARBA) Berry was also at one time linked with Bear Bunz Rabbitry.

September 19, 2014 Nearly 100 rabbits and hamsters seized from a southeast Calgary home, couple now facing criminal charges for neglect

October 2, 2014 update: Man accused of neglecting animals admits to assault

Comment: Thank goodness Berry has been denied bail. He should never be permitted to have rabbits or any other animal again. It’s unfortunate he wasn’t apprehended earlier. As with so many animal abusers, he is unstable and a danger to humans as well.

November 3, 2016 update #2 Anthony and Christine Berry, whose 91 rabbits, hamsters, dog and cat were living in a foot and a half of feces have been handed $12,000 in fines and are only ever allowed to own one animal at a time. When officers seized 91 animals from a home in Erinwoods in August 2014, some were missing eyes and some had to be dug out of their cages because they were buried in the feces.

There were 69 rabbits, 20 hamsters, one dog and one cat, of which 47 rabbits and hamsters were in such poor condition, they had to be euthanized.

These poor animals suffered in silence for far too long and nothing will ever bring back the ones which had to be put down to end their misery. The unconscionable neglect by this couple cannot be excused and that is why we will never give up fighting for the victims of such gross inhumanity.

September 29, 2014 Animals deemed neglected at Spokane County farm seized

Comment: Another sad situation where animals pay a heavy price. Exploited, and left to suffer in squalid conditions, while excuses are made to justify or explain the neglect. She could have asked for help, and didn’t. In many cases, offenders like Osgood will repeat. Animal cruelty is a serious crime, and while some people may attempt to correct or control their behaviour, it still leaves the innocent and voiceless, vulnerable. Always report suspected abuse to the appropriate authorities and to a trusted animal advocacy organization. Be persistent.

January 20, 2015 1,000+ rabbits, guinea pigs, mice rescued from Wayne County pet store; some Canadian cases

Comment: There’s no doubt that this is animal cruelty and hoarding. The individuals should face the maximum penalty under law, never be permitted to own animals again, and get a psychiatric evaluation. The welfare and protection of animals is of utmost importance. Innocent, trusting, dependent creatures have suffered and perished because of these deviants. http://codes.ohio.gov/orc/959

Read more: Free pet rabbits offered on Craigslist; cracking down on breeder ads online; Kijiji's position, free pets often end up in wrong hands, CHS seizes dead animals


Animal suffering, cruelty and hoarding; Adams County, repeat offences; BC & Canadian cases