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New York, NY 10019

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The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS)
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Pow-Wow's Tortured Journey Comes to an End

The little rabbit called Pow-wow, who lived for years with pain in a cramped, dark cage.

Pow-Wow was dropped off at the Rabbit Sanctuary in a wire cage that looked like something from a medieval torture chamber. The wire was dented, rusty and abrasive with torn, sharp corners. Looking up at the rabbit from under the cage, one could see that his feet were raw and infected. The cage was full of excrement, emitting a strong odor.

When gently lifted from the cage, the little gray and white spotted rabbit let out a piercing scream. Though it is most unusual for rabbits to vocalize in that way, he had been left for years in a shed all by himself and likely was terrified.

He was taken out of his cage and placed gently on a large mat in the health building; two old rabbits came over to greet him immediately. Pow-Wow screamed again, and this time the cry alarmed all the aged rabbits in the room. Something was terribly wrong.

Pow-Wow settled in the sanctuary residence kitchen on several extra thick mats. He heartily ate his green leafy salad and some hay as well. A stuffed toy became a soft pillow to rest his head. Through the day and evening, the staff closely observed him. He was unresponsive. He did not seem to move; he stayed in a single hunched position and acted almost paralyzed. His eyes were dull and kept almost closed. The problem became clear: his screams were from pain—not fear.

Medical assessment needed

Early the next morning Pow-Wow rested in a small, padded basket and visited the sanctuary's vet. The news couldn't have been worse—an x-ray clearly displayed lesions on his lungs caused by living for years in a damp shed with no bedding. But the really bad news was that his back was broken. It was an old injury. The vertebrae had fused together, but it was out of alignment, and thus, any movement caused this poor rabbit excruciating pain—enough pain to make him shriek.

He had languished for years in a damp, dark shed, suffering with sore feet, bad lungs and a broken back. Pow-Wow was at least four years old.

All rabbits at the Rabbit Sanctuary are rescues. The sanctuary is all about new beginnings and second chances at a wonderful life. In Pow-Wow's case, however, it was too late for a second chance. The only thing to do for this poor soul was release him—at last—from this agony through euthanasia.

Such extreme cases of cruelty caused by human neglect and indifference are difficult to understand. There are animal cruelty laws to prevent further behavior and punish offenders. If you witness or know of animal cruelty, take immediate action by calling your local animal shelter or animal control agency. Act now before animals such as Pow-Wow suffer horrific and needless agony.

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Published June 2, 2007