Thursday, June 18, 2009

Birthing and hoarding bunnies

An Oregon woman has been taken into custody for a second time for hoarding rabbits. Miriam Sakewitz, 47, was arrested at a hotel in the Portland suburb of Tigard for violating a court order banning her from owning animals for 5 years when an employee reported finding rabbits hopping around her room. In October 2006, Sakewitz was first arrested when police found 250 rabbits (100 of them dead) in her Hillsboro home. Then in January 2007, she broke into the facility where the survivors were being housed and stole most of them back. Authorities found her a few days later with 10 rabbits (2 of them dead) in her car and another 130 at a nearby horse farm. They were confiscated and some were given away until Sakewitz - who had repeatedly asked for the return of 75 of her favorites - succeeded in a legal challenge barring the police from holding a "Bunny Blitz" adoption event until the case was resolved. Her sentence in April 2007 barred her from going within 100 yards of a rabbit, but she spent 3 days in jail for violating her probation when police found a rabbit in her house. Sakewitz refused unannounced visits from her probation officer, but when she did gain entrance the p.o. found a half-empty 5 lb. bag of carrots. Sakewitz remained "pretty quiet," according to police, until animal control officers had to remove the rabbits (8 adult, 5 young, and 1 dead) from her hotel room. She will be arraigned on animal cruelty charges this afternoon.
Reading about this rabbit-obsessed woman reminded me of another strange story, this one dating back more than 275 years. Englishwoman Mary Tofts (c. 1701-1763) is remembered as the woman who gave birth to rabbits. Tofts convinced doctors - sometimes in their presence - that she had delivered 17 rabbits (some of them dead and in pieces). They attributed it to maternal impressions, since Tofts had craved rabbit meat, dreamed about them, and tried to catch them in the garden. As the case became a national sensation, rabbit stew disappeared from the dinner table. When isolated, Tofts' bizarre bunny births stopped, and when her husband was caught smuggling a rabbit into her chamber, she was forced to admit it had been a hoax - she had inserted the rabbits into her vagina and allowed doctors to remove them. The above print by William Hogarth (1697-1764) mocks the doctors for their gullibility.
You may never think about bunnies the same way again!

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