UPDATE 7-14-2016: The three additional bunnies have been rescued from the home and are in the care of Nassau County Animal Services, Southwest Florida Rabbit Rescue told The Huffington Post.
Original story below:
A little more than a month after three teen girls were arrested in connection with a video appearing to show them throwing a bunny at a wall, a new social media post suggests other rabbits are being kept in potentially deadly conditions.
The case made headlines in late May, when a concerned resident of northern Florida’s Nassau County posted a graphic video on Facebook showing three girls, aged 13 to 14, giggling and flinging a rabbit at the walls in a Fernandina Beach home. The girls were arrested and charged with felony animal cruelty. Law enforcement has not released their names.
Nassau County Animal Services removed that rabbit, later named “Fuzzy Pants,” from the home. She received medical attention and is thriving in the care of Southwest Florida House Rabbit Rescue. While Fuzzy Pants is safe, other rabbits may still be in danger, Jennifer Macbeth, president of the rescue, told The Huffington Post.
A screenshot taken from Snapchat on Thursday shows one of the girls involved in the case holding a small white rabbit, neighbors and animal rights groups told Action News Jax. The photo has sparked renewed concern from community members.
There was no court order against the girls owning or being around more rabbits, Undersheriff George Lueders told HuffPost, so if they are simply keeping rabbits, they wouldn't be breaking the law. Animal services did go out to assess the situation, but director Tim Maguire said no one was home.
But Macbeth says an image from one of the girls' Snapchat accounts also shows rabbits being kept in dangerous conditions. A screenshot shows what appears to be two small white rabbits inside a glass tank — a setup that could be fatal.
The space is far too small for rabbit housing, and glass tanks are dangerous for rabbits — they provide inadequate air flow and heat up too quickly for the animals. A blanket placed over the top of the tank limits ventilation even more. It's unclear if the original throwing video and the new screenshot were taken in the same location, but both show a room with yellow walls and a green rug.
Macbeth told HuffPost that the Snapchat user who posted the original video was the same one who posted the two Snapchat stories that included the girl holding the bunny and the bunnies in the tank. She added that getting the rabbits out of the living situation as soon as possible is crucial.
“Eventually the waste from the rabbits will create toxic fumes ... even if the lack of oxygen doesn't kill them,” Macbeth said. And if the room isn’t air conditioned, the small glass enclosure combined with Florida summer heat could be a death sentence within hours.
The sheriff’s office has not replied to requests for comment from HuffPost about the second photo. Anyone with information can call the sheriff's office at (904) 225-5174.