Rabbits remain at Peacebunny farm after dead animals recovered during search

In July, FOX 9 reported on the search of a bunny farm in Savage, where investigators say they found animals trapped in feces and living under floorboards. Many bunnies recovered from the Peacebunny Farm have since died or been euthanized, but others remain at the property, as owner Stephanie Smith goes on trial over charges of animal cruelty and neglect.

"There were rabbit carcasses scattered about the population," Animal Humane Society Supervising Agent Keith Streff told FOX 9 on Monday. Investigators recovered 47 dead bunnies from an overcrowded barn of up to 300 rabbits in humid and dirty conditions.

"It had been going on for weeks," Streff added. "Possibly months."

One month after the discovery, the Animal Humane Society has allowed 80 to 100 bunnies to remain at the property and others involved early on in the investigation say they have reason to be concerned about the health of those animals.

"Those animals need to be removed immediately," Kim Drake with Rabbit Rescue of Minnesota said. She was first on the scene, and says Rabbit Rescue of Minnesota’s recommendation that the animals be removed was shrugged off.

In a statement, Minnesota Federated Humane Societies agreed, saying it doesn’t agree with the decision to leave animals behind:

"MFHS does not feel any animals owned by Peacebunny should have been left on the property once the investigation teams determined there were in fact violations of animal welfare laws, including but not limited to alleged felony animal cruelty and neglect.  MFHS does not agree with the decision to leave animals behind.  The goal of MFHS recommendations was to help ensure no further harm comes to those animals while in the legal possession of the alleged violator while the case is litigated."

But, Animal Humane Society agent Keith Streff decided Peacebunny was capable of caring for a reduced population, in part, based on their previous history. He ordered them to reduce their headcount to a more manageable number.

"She got in over her head and now hopefully she’s had an opportunity to correct it, and hopefully she’ll continue that," Streff said. "It’s not necessary to remove the entire population if she’s capable of maintaining and caring for it, but just didn’t have the initiative or the staff to do so."

Stephanie Smith’s first court appearance in Scott County is scheduled for Aug. 22. FOX 9 reached out to Peacebunny Farm on Monday, but did not hear back. The organization’s website says it is not responding to media requests at this time.