After a group of Palos Verdes Peninsula residents rescued pet rabbits they suspect were purposely abandoned this month in Rancho Palos Verdes, the city posted signs in Hesse Park warning against animal dumping.
Valerie Real, who lives near Hesse Park, said she frequently sees an abundance of wild rabbits there. But, on July 13, as she walked with members of her family, Real spotted a large rabbit that looked like someone's pet bunny. It was a different size and had different coloring from the wild rabbits she always sees, she said.
It was near dusk when Real and family members walked over to where they spotted the bunny. But it wasn't just some bunny.
They discovered seven babies and four adults—a fluffle, in scientific terms.
But this fluffle was not one of wild rabbits, said Real.
Intent on rescuing the pet bunnies, who are not equipped to survive the elements and often fall prey to predators, Real returned with an animal carrier.
But she was able to save only three baby bunnies, even when it became a family effort, said Real.
The next morning, Real discovered the remains of three baby rabbits.
After she posted about the incident on Nextdoor, neighbors came out to help on July 14 to attempt rescuing more rabbits. Los Angeles Department of Animal Care and Control caught one adult rabbit. Members of the community caught two adults and the remaining baby rabbit, said Real.
One other adult rabbit was found with an injured neck and is being treated at the Point Vicente Animal Hospital.
Real and Claire Ealy, a volunteer at the Harbor Animal Shelter who helped with the rabbit rescue, are concerned the bunnies may have been abandoned at Hesse Park.
On July 20, another resident posted that two women were seen releasing a rabbit in the park around 6 p.m. and a distant photo of them was posted on Nextdoor. Fliers stating “This is animal cruelty and it is a crime," were made using the picture of the women and posted on Nextdoor and at the park.
That's when the city took notice. On July 21, Rancho Palos Verdes staff posted about a dozen signs warning against animal dumping, most of them near the site of the incident in lower Hesse Park, said a city spokesperson.
LA Animal Control and Bunny World Foundation offered assistance with the rescued rabbits, said Real, but other agencies were limited in what they could do.
Real said her family fostered the rabbits until an RPV family adopted the babies and another rescuer adopted the adult rabbit.
Lejla Hadzimuratovic, president and founder of Bunny World Foundation, which was founded in 2008 to combat illegal animal sales in downtown Los Angeles, said she was shaken by the abandonment of the rabbits and offered to find them homes.
The foundation also gave veterinarian referrals and advice on how to bring the criminals to justice, Hadzimuratovic wrote in an email.
“Abandoning animals is a crime and those perpetrators should be charged with felony animal cruelty,” Hadzimuratovic wrote and added her organization has performed rescues in San Pedro and on the Palos Verdes Peninsula in the past.
Real said it's important to get the word out there are better options than abandoning domesticated rabbits into the wild. She added the community's outpouring of concern was impressive.
“There’s so many people that have been involved in the whole process,” agreed Ealy. “People came out to help look, people would leave water and hay. The whole community got involved to one degree or another.”