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Dead rabbits found in Virginia pet store traced to Maryland farm, Humane Society says

An undercover investigation by the Humane Society of the United States traced dead rabbits from the freezers of a Virginia pet store to a farm in Centreville, Md., according to the Humane Society.

Humane Society investigators discovered at least 14 rabbits that had been stuffed in freezers at the Fairfax, Va., Petland store during a five-month undercover operation, according to the Humane Society. The report claims sick rabbits were not treated by veterinarians and instead left to die at the store, which has more than 80 locations across the country.

The Humane Society conducted the investigation between November 2018 and March 2019. Many of the rabbits sold at the Petland store were traced to Wagner Farm in Centreville. Owner John Wagner told investigators he sold about 60 rabbits each month to the Fairfax Petland store, according to the report.

A Humane Society investigator who visited the farm undercover found about 200 rabbits “kept in poor conditions, including a large white rabbit laying across the top of a cage who was already dead, and others who were injured,” the report said.

“The conditions were exactly like those found in puppy mills, but in this case we found a rabbit mill,” the report said.

The report also claimed Wagner Farm does not have the requisite license from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to breed rabbits.

The Humane Society shared the results of its investigation with law enforcement officials, according to the organization.

City of Fairfax Police and animal control officers executed a search warrant at the pet store after police conducted a routine inspection of shop Monday. The warrant was issued based on “failure to provide adequate care and treatment to companion animals,” according to the police department. Police and animal control seized records and animals from the store, the police department said in a news release Tuesday.

Neither Wagner nor a Petland store manager could be reached for comment Tuesday afternoon.

The Humane Society urged prospective pet owners to consider the special needs of rabbits before bringing home a bunny — particularly as Easter approaches.

smeehan@baltsun.com

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