print(Date("l F d, Y")); ?>
By Andrea Peyser
November 4, 2016
Bunny rabbits get no respect.
Unlike dogs and cats (which generally are not eaten by humans in the United States), rabbits are raised both as pets and to be slaughtered for food. Their pelts are harvested to make super-soft coats, they’re used routinely in medical experiments and cosmetics testing, and their paws can be hacked off at will to make lucky rabbit’s-foot key chains.
Against this gruesome backdrop of animal ambivalence, a New York City critter freak faces time behind bars for allegedly mistreating varmints she continues to collect by the dozens, likening spaying and neutering the reproductively gifted furballs to abortion.
“It’s against nature!’’ Dorota Trec, known as Brooklyn’s notorious Bunny Hoarder, told me. “I consider it injury. It’s horrible!’’
I interrupted her fuzzy harangue to ask how many bunnies are too many. “You can’t have too many!’’ shot back Trec, 36, a piano and flute teacher, who said she immigrated to this country legally from Poland. “There is no such thing as too much life.’’
Trec is standing trial in Brooklyn Criminal Court, accused of amassing a miniature menagerie in a vacant lot near her Gowanus home in which many bunnies allegedly were injured or afflicted with diseases, including sexually transmitted syphilis.
Authorities last year seized 176 rabbits ahead of a snowstorm from the clutches of Trec, who is acting as her own attorney, although she isn’t a trained lawyer. If convicted as charged with multiple counts of animal cruelty, she could be locked away for up to two years.
In a weird quirk that could happen only in New York, Trec’s rabid rabbit obsession has put her at odds with another bunny fanatic. If the two women weren’t fighting tooth and nail and cottontail, I’ll bet they’d have much to dish about over coffee.
A bunny “is one of the most discriminated-against pets,’’ Natalie Reeves, 42, a divorce lawyer who lives in Manhattan and founded the Big Apple Bunnies rabbit-rights group, told me.
Reeves, who lives alone with male and female bunnies she adopted from a shelter, Queenie and Radar — her first female hopper died of cancer last year — said she gave a lecture on “rabbit law’’ on behalf of the city Bar Association in 2011. “People who don’t know about rabbits don’t know they follow you around, can jump up into your bed and wake you up,’’ said Reeves. “If you say the word ‘salad,’ they’ll go to the fridge and wait by the refrigerator. They can be trained to use a litter box.’’
Trec, who also is unmarried, voiced agreement. “Rabbits seem to me the most interesting, erotic, sophisticated, mystical magical creatures. They’re very funny.’’
Reeves said she received reports in late 2014 that Trec’s rabbits lived in squalor. So she took pictures while on a visit, then summoned city cops and officials from the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. Trec’s bunny bazaar was raided in January 2015 before a snowstorm. At least nine rabbits later died. Most were adopted, but an ASPCA spokeswoman would not tell me if any were put to death.
Trec insists that injuries were sustained only after the animals were out of her care — and called the syphilis diagnosis made by an ASPCA veterinarian a “nickname’’ for an unserious “virus.’’
Reeves is “a crazy, jealous woman. She thought she is one on top of rabbit issues in the New York City area,’’ said Trec, who called her rival and a police captain who busted her “psychotic.’’
She also filed a civil lawsuit against a host of targets including Reeves, cops, prosecutors and the ASPCA, seeking a total of $2.8 billion for defamation, harassment and other offenses.
A judge dismissed Reeves’ portion, while staying much of the rest of the suit until Trec’s criminal case ends.
Trec told me she plans to re-file — and seek $6 billion.
Oddly, a judge turned down a request from prosecutors to issue a restraining order that would bar Trec from keeping rabbits.
Her “garden’’ now contains six dozen fuzzies and counting, she said — some of which she bought from slaughterhouses, or had been discarded by show breeders.
Is Dorota Trec a menace — or a savior?
If a jury finds that she abused living things, I hope she gets the max. It’s true, I’ve never been a tremendous fan of squirmers.
But all breathing beings, large and small, deserve to be treated with care, at least until they face their inevitable ends.
Little kids — and adults — who love bunnies would insist.