In April of 2002, PetSave Foundation was asked to assist the
spcaLA in the rescue and care of approximately 350 rabbits confiscated
from an "animal hoarder" in Mar Vista. The large number
was a direct result of Mar Vista resident Linda Latshaw's failure
to spay and neuter the rabbits she had taken in. Consequently,
many rabbits were pregnant and an additional 160+ rabbits were
born after the rescue. The neglect they had endured was shocking,
with many rabbits sick or critically wounded from a lack of food,
water, medicine, and shelter from predators. In light of the overwhelming
evidence against her, Ms. Latshaw plead guilty to misdemeanor
animal neglect and was sentenced to three years probation, 100
hours of community service, and a $10,000 fine.
In late July 2002, PetSave Foundation assumed total responsibility
for the care and adoption of the Mar Vista rabbits, an incredible
undertaking for a small, newly formed non-profit organization.
A year and a half later, all of the bunnies are healthy and have
been spayed and neutered. Best of all, we have succeeded in finding
adoptive homes for about 300 of these bunnies to date.
One of those bunnies rescued is Buster. This is his story.
He's a stubby little brown guy
with chunky feet and a lot of attitude, or 'rabbitude' to those
of us who know rabbits well. He's Buster, and he's one of our
favorite shelter bunnies.
Buster was considered to be important evidence
in the abuse case. He had sustained serious damage to his eyes
from fighting, something he was forced to do under the conditions
in which he lived. He has limited sight, and is covered with scars.
Because of his loss of vision, this little ball of muscle and
fear would strike out at anything he sensed coming near. Filling
his food dish or water bowl was a daunting task for all but the
most experienced bunny handlers.
For a long time he was known as "Angry
Man," but a few brave volunteers began spending time with
Buster, to try to get him used to being touched. After many months,
they were rewarded with an occasional breakthrough, when Buster
would actually let someone hold him.
We felt that the "Angry Man"
title was a negative prophecy to burden this little guy with,
so a volunteer renamed him "Buster". Buster was soon
moved out of a cage and into his own pen. With room to run, and
a prominent spot in the shelter, Buster began to mellow. He became
a favorite of the regular volunteers and visitors. With all the
attention, Buster began to respond to his name, and to seek attention.
Volunteers brought him gifts - toys, treats, soft towels - anything
to bring him a little joy, but still he did not want to be touched.
He would buck and growl and grunt his displeasure. You could put
your hand near him if a treat was being offered, but he would
then grab the treat and run to the back of the pen to devour it.
Because Buster was evidence in the abuse
case, he could not be neutered until the case was settled. When
the case finally settled, we wasted no time in scheduling his
surgery. This surgery is the first step toward adoption for a
It eventually became clear that Buster
either had more sight than we thought, or had a keen sense of
direction, because during playtime he could always find his way
through the shelter rooms to the pen with the most girl bunnies.
There he would lounge for hours, flirting with abandon. We decided
that the next step to happiness for Buster was marriage.
Although a lot of the very young girl-bunnies liked
to flirt with Buster (and vice versa!), we chose Olivia, a strong,
mature bunny, to be his bride. Olivia is a beautiful, shy black
bunny who loves and nurtures Buster, and is content to be in his
shadow. Not surprisingly, Olivia's kindness has made Buster feel
more secure, and less aggressive. Marriage has also made him a
little more domesticated, which means he now uses his litter box
like a little gentleman!
We have seen Buster flourish, his coat get plusher and prettier,
and his attitude settle just a little. Buster's new outlook on
life is proof of the power of compassion, and his change in attitude
because of Olivia is proof, lest we forget, of the power of love.