MIDDLETOWN, Ohio — Here's a fact many might not know about domesticated rabbits: They can eat up to three times their body weight.
It's an esoteric fact that became important for volunteers in the Middletown area over the weekend when as many as 70 rabbits were released and recovered over the weekend. Now, those volunteers are scrambling to find homes and enough food to keep the recovered rabbits from going hungry.
Janel Hemrick with Myles Ahead Animal Sanctuary and Rescue said they received a call from a woman who had roughly 30 rabbits living in her home that she couldn't care for.
"At that point in time, we were told that rescues were in contact, and we were working with her and letting her know that we would support and we would figure something out and we just needed a few days to man that many bunnies," Hemrick said.
Then, on Saturday, police said the woman who called Myles Ahead abandoned dozens of the rabbits at Smith Park, some of which were later discovered to be pregnant and could soon each deliver anywhere from two to eight more rabbits that will need homes.
Tuesday morning, Middletown Animal Control charged Leah Mendoza, 43, with 35 counts of abandonment.
Rabbits' diet primarily consists of Timothy hay, along with other plants and vegetables, and that's not to mention the other supplies needed for their care.
"Bunnies cost quite a bit to spay and neuter, and a lot of times we don't even meet our medical expenses," Hemrick said. "Right now, we're on management, making sure we have enough veggies and fruit to feed 27-28 bunnies plus any that are born, plus the Timothy hay and the bedding and all the other supplies that go along with that
Hemrick said it's caused a sudden crisis in making sure these domesticated animals could receive the care they need to survive, in addition to the other cats, dogs and other domestics that also demand the shelter's care on a regular basis.
"All of your local rescues and shelters have been through a lot and not being able to do all the fundraisers that we normally do, so consider donating to a shelter," Hemrick said.
To donate to Myles Ahead, visit their Facebook page here for more information.