7 min read

People Show Up To Rescue Rabbits — Then Find Her In The Basement

She was very scared and had been in the dark for six weeks.

Rescuers couldn't have anticipated that they'd find more than just rabbits in the basement of a breeder's home in New Jersey.

Susie Coston

Last week, Mike Stura, founder of Skylands Animal Sanctuary and Rescue, got a call from a friend about a hoarding situation in Hunterdon County that had gone from bad to worse.

According to Stura, a potential buyer stopped by the residence with the intention of purchasing a rabbit. Once they were exposed to the conditions in which the rabbits were being kept, they got in touch with the New Jersey SPCA (NJSPCA) to intervene and rescue the animals.

Susie Coston

"They found rabbits in rows and rows on the walls of a shed," Stura said. "It was very hot and damp in there with no ventilation."

Susie Coston

Furthermore, the rabbits all lived in their own filth and were cooped up in rusted cages, filled with old food that was teeming with maggots.

Skylands Animal Sanctuary And Rescue

Stura said people actually didn't live on the property where the animals were found - the space was solely used for breeding and storing the animals. In addition to rabbits, guinea pigs were also found, the total animals nearing 300. The owner of them gave them up to the NJSPCA.

Susie Coston

"They were in the process of getting those rabbits out from the shed," Stura said. "They went to the house attached to the property and found even more rabbits on the first floor. One of the SPCA agents went around the back of the house and saw a calf looking back up at him from the window of the basement."

The calf found in the basement | Skylands Animal Sanctuary And Rescue

That's when Stura was called in to rescue the young female cow.

"She was living in the basement with several inches of rabbit feces and urine on the ground," Stura said. Since the rabbit cages in the basement were elevated, the calf had no choice but to cower underneath them - drenched in the waste of the trapped rabbits above her. "She was yellow-stained," Stura said. "She was very scared. She had no human contact, really."

Skylands Animal Sanctuary And Rescue

When Stura reached out to examine the 10-week-old calf at first, she bolted - repeatedly running away out of nervousness and fear.

Susie Coston

Ironically, the owner of the calf had other cows and horses all kept outdoors.

Stura said when he asked the woman why she had a cow in a basement, she told him that she heard she could get a tax break if she owned three cows, instead of two. So, she went to an auction and purchased the calf. However, since the calf was still so young and small, she decided to kept the animal in the basement until she was large enough to mingle with the other cows outdoors.

The calf had lived in the dark and filth for six weeks before the rescue.

Skylands Animal Sanctuary And Rescue

"It was startling to see a cow in a basement like that," Stura said. "You don't expect to see that, especially in those conditions."

The young cow arriving at Skylands | Skylands Animal Sanctuary And Rescue

Stura expects that charges will be filed against owner of the cow and rabbits.

Skylands Animal Sanctuary And Rescue

Once the cow, whom Stura has named Violet, was rescued, she was bathed and treated for pneumonia.

Skylands Animal Sanctuary And Rescue

She currently has an enclosure filled with clean bedding for her to relax in until she gets the clear from her veterinarian that she's healthy enough to join the other cows out in the pastures of her new home at the sanctuary.

Skylands Animal Sanctuary And Rescue

"She is doing so much better already," Stura said.

Want to help Skylands continue doing good work for animals in need? Consider making a donation here.

If you live in or near New Jersey and are interested in giving a home to one of the animals seized from the house, learn more about how you can adopt here.

Watch this video of Violet enjoying the outdoors with her new dad: