News

Case of the Missing Rabbits, Day Two

Hi Everyone,

I’ve received a lot of comments and emails in response to my posting about the rabbits that were stolen on Saturday night from one of my instructor’s homes. A few stories have also come out in the newspaper and on television and on the Internet, all with slightly varying information. I’d like to clear up a few things and also give you all a sense for where I’m coming from.

First, at its most basic level, this incident is about someone having their private property stolen and their personal space invaded. On another level it’s potentially about one of the most complex and divisive topics we struggle with in the modern world.

Second, I may not answer all your questions in this post, but I am more than happy to answer questions that people might have about the nature of the theft or the nature of what the Portland Meat Collective does and what it stands for.  I’m also very willing to engage in respectful discussions about the very controversial topic of eating and not eating meat, killing animals for food, etc.  It’s a complicated topic for sure, one that I spend a lot of time wrestling with. Since I started the PMC I’ve reassessed and changed my own relationship to the topic based on what I’ve been able to see and learn.

Next, the police have been alerted. We are chasing a couple of promising leads. We do have reason to believe the theft was politically motivated. I’m unfortunately not at liberty at this time to share the details of those leads.

First of all, my math was off when I posted the last post and when I spoke with the Oregonian on Sunday. Some of you may have read stories today with different numbers, so I want to clarify. 18 rabbits (5 adults, including 2 nursing does, and 13 juveniles) were stolen and10 babies were left behind. These rabbits were cooperatively cared for by two people, Levi Cole and a close friend of his. They raise these rabbits to feed two households and to supply rabbits to a small PMC class of students wishing to learn how to raise and harvest rabbits for meat themselves. Levi does not call himself a farmer. He does not raise animals for a living. He provides food for his family and his friends, using his own small backyard. He does not make money off of the animals he raises. PMC students pay him at cost. The animals are not a commodity. They are not treated in anyway like factory-farmed animals. They are raised well, provided a good life, and are meant to ultimately be harvested for personal consumption.

The PMC had two classes scheduled for Sunday, a chicken class and a rabbit class. Both classes still took place, for the rabbits that Levi had planned to use for the class had already been transported to the class location before the theft took place.

The rabbits were likely taken sometime between 1:30 and 8am, when they were found to be missing. The box with the 10 babies had been removed from the rabbit hutch and left on the lawn.  These ten babies had just been born on Friday night, the night before the theft took place, so they were a little over 1 day old. The babies were immediately moved inside and kept warm.

In order to figure out how to save the babies, we called farmers and rabbit advocates, and consulted online chat forums, books and other sources. In general, the common opinion seemed to be that there is so much protein and essential nutrients in a rabbit mother’s milk that no great substitute exists, especially if the babies are that young. The rabbits had also been left without a source for warmth for an unknown amount of time, which could have effected their nervous and immune systems as well. The best option seemed to be to find a nursing mother for the babies, which is what we attempted to do.

The babies, however, began dying at around 11am, just two hours after they were found in the yard. We did go buy ingredients that are said to be potential, temporary substitutes for their mother’s milk: a combination of kitten replacement milk or goat milk and a raw egg.  The last baby rabbit died before we could feed them this. A nursing mother was, unfortunately, not found in time. We are all very sad that the babies suffered and then died, not because a potential food source was lost, but because we cared about the animals and did not want them to suffer like this.

Which brings me to my next thought. The farmers and food producers I work with care for their animals, feed them well, give them lots of love, make sure that they have plenty of space to roam, and that they are protected from the elements. As hard to believe as it may seem to some, I think it really is possible to care for and love and respect the animals that one raises for meat. There are also, quite obviously, people who raise animals for meat who really don’t care about the welfare of the animals—just read the incredibly exhaustive, well-researched book “CAFO—The Tragedy of Industrial Animal Factories,” and you’ll be convinced pretty quickly of this if you aren’t already. I like to think that the PMC and its mission stands pretty far outside of the realm that that book covers.

The PMC largely, though not solely, consists of people who do eat meat—and we understand and accept that this is a practice that many people do not choose to take part in. Students and instructors, in my experience, tend to be very thoughtful about their status as omnivores, and the majority seem to want to really rethink their relationship to meat—in terms of how much of it they eat if any, where it comes from, and how it’s produced. Our entire goal as a collective is to uncover the very veiled, mysterious, and yes, often very unpleasant, system that gets most meat to our tables in America.  Our other goal is to create a more humane, alternative system by which people can procure meat—or, alternately, by which people can decide NOT to procure meat. It is our hope that by changing our understanding of and relationship to meat and the animals the meat comes from, we will change our meat consumption habits, and also arrive at more fully-formed philosophical understandings of what it means for us, individually and as a community, to eat animals. We feel, if nothing else, that this is a step in the right direction. In fact, at times, it seems to me that our end goal might even overlap with the end goals of many of the people voicing their disapproval of the PMC on this site, but we’ll save that for another rainy day.

By providing people with the opportunity to confront and become a part of the process of getting well-raised, local, sustainable meat to the table, we give them the chance to decide for themselves how they’d like to eat in the world, what they’d like to eat, and where they want their food to come from.  In our classes, farmers, students, instructors, butchers, omnivores, vegans, and vegetarians all gather around a table to discuss their opinions and feelings regarding eating animals.  It’s a complex topic, and one that deserves our attention and our thoughtfulness. We have many vegans and vegetarians and ambivalent omnivores taking our classes (both slaughter and butchery classes). When I ask them what brought them to the PMC they tell me they want to learn about alternatives to industrial meat production. Some say they attend our classes to really test their own belief systems about meat—to find out if they’ll feel more or less comfortable eating meat if they raise, harvest, process, and cook the animal themselves. Some people decide they are comfortable eating meat that way, some decide against it. The point here, is that we are all people trying to gain a better understanding of where our food comes from, and trying to rethink the system that currently exists. We’re all people trying to make conscious, well-informed choices for ourselves, our communities, and our families, in the face of what has remained a very divisive topic.

Mostly I hope that some sort of productive dialogue will come out of this incident and its fallout. In the end I think that most of us on this site right now—even with all our varying views— might have a little more in common than we think.

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28 Responses to Case of the Missing Rabbits, Day Two

  1. something says:

    I hope that some day you will realise that not only are you wasting your own breath but also other animals’ lives due to your own ignorance.

  2. ALR says:

    Oh right, you care so much about these animals that you kill them and then eat them? Would you kill your dog and eat him for dinner? Many people have rabbits as pets and consider them family just as people consider their dogs/cats family. Why are you even eating rabbit? Are you not satisfied with all the cow and pig and chicken already available to you? Talk about arrogant and greedy. You have to prove that you are dominant over every other animal by raising them and then slaughtering them for no other reason than it’s a hobby and you are a “foodie”? Congratulations.

  3. Deborah says:

    The sins of the father will be on the souls of their sons, or something like that. I’m sure your children will thank you one day for the heartless ignorant hypocrites you are and the debt you left them to pay. Nice work. Now go to church like good little girls. :Q Pathetic! Can’t wait ’til the boomerang of karma comes right back to whack you in that stupid fat head of yours!

  4. Omnivore says:

    Thanks for the follow ups, Camas. Good stuff Angela, thank you.

  5. Jenn says:

    I’m glad to finally find the actual facts for this. Its also upsetting to see some of the comments on other places. Its a sad state when it comes down to being rude, crude, and vulgar.

    I am very sad and upset a person or persons would do this. I’m glad to see others understand it was just wrong. I don’t care who it was, it was wrong to do it. The person or persons responsible deserve to have to pay for the damages and if possible locked up. I don’t believe it was a false, when I’ve caught a theif mid-theft they’ve left what they were in the middle of taking behind and it is reasonable to believe that if the person or persons were walked in on or thought they were being walked in on they left them for dead and ran. After all I’ve heard the statement many times that some persons believe an animal of any kind is better off dead then to be with a human.

  6. Lynn says:

    Thank you to both Camas and Angela for the well written responses.

  7. RabbitPerson says:

    What many do not realize is that getting chilled makes it even more urgent to get the babies nursing immediately. They used up all their energy reserves trying to keep warm, and they are often too weak after having been chilled to use an artificial nurser or drink out of an eyedropper. The chance of saving them without an actual mother rabbit to nurse them within a very short time is essentially nil at that point.

    Since some were already chilled beyond saving before the kits were found, this may be a factor as to why the rest died so quickly.

    Also, there are certainly vegetarians and vegans who do not eat meat or animal products for reasons other than what you would typically think of. It is a decision some make for health reasons or because they simply don’t like the taste of meat. Some of them don’t object to cooking meat for their families, or may even raw-feed their carnivorous pets.

    • utilitarian says:

      vegans do not eat or use animal products. if you slaughter or butcher an animal you are not vegan…PERIOD.

  8. James Lee Ahnefeld says:

    I wish to attend your pig program on Jan 19 with Chef Ryan Farr. Where shall I sign up?

  9. utilitarian says:

    “We have many vegans and vegetarians and ambivalent carnivores taking our classes (both slaughter and butchery classes).”

    Camas, Do you have any idea how offensive this is? If someone is taking one of your classes they are most definitely not vegan. Look it up.

    • Omnivore says:

      You are assuming that Camas classified these people as vegans, and not that these people self identified as vegans. The classes are open to anyone. Including vegans. Crazy concept, eh?

  10. utilitarian says:

    “We have many vegans and vegetarians…taking our classes (both slaughter and butchery classes). ”

    On what planet is participating in a slaughter vegetarian or vegan? This borders on a troll.

  11. Tina Reid says:

    I’m sorry that you’ve had to deal with theft in addition to what appears to be daily run-in’s with food nazis. However, I’m very glad to know that the PMC exists & will probably be signing up for a class or two or three. Given all the issues with feed given to livestock etc., I’d prefer to raise & butcher my own, as I do with vegetables & eggs. Thank you for the service you’re providing!

  12. Dylan Powell says:

    Angela, what Rabbit Sanctuary do you run?

  13. Katie Boyts says:

    Wonderful, thought-provoking article Camas. I so appreciate the voice you bring to the table and hope this gets cleared up quickly and peacefully for PMC. Keep up the hard work!

  14. becky says:

    Thanks for the follow up.

  15. Erica Witbeck says:

    Thank you for an eloquent and thoughtful response.This is exactly why I’m so grateful for the PMC.

  16. Dylan Powell says:

    “Bluntly, if these babies did exist I do not think this was an act of liberation. If it was an act of liberation, I think the PDX Meat Collective concocted a story about baby bunnies being left behind.”

    http://theveganpolice.com/main/?p=1562

    Also, to all of the internet warriors out there who come to my site from this site and post vitriolic comments – I will publish your comments but you could at least be accountable for them and post your name. Throughout this entire process I have taken ownership over my words and I will continue to do so regardless of how entirely fucked up I think you and PDX Meat Collective are.

    • Tina Reid says:

      Using obscenities to make one’s opinion known is unnecessarily crude; it distracts & detracts from any intelligent comments you may make in discussing your position.

  17. Angela says:

    Hi,

    I want you to know that I am appalled by the comments I have read on the other stories. What you are doing is a wonderful service. I am actually the President of a rabbit sanctuary and I understand that rabbits can be used as meat and that they are very healthy meat alternative. I personally choose not to eat them but what irritates me is when they are treated inhumanely in factor farms or by people that think they are doing them a favor. I find it very sad that you have to explain yourself to appease the activists who think that animals have rights and that they are the only ones that are right. When I read your first articles I was more disturbed that someone would steal rabbits than I was that they were used for food. People were commenting how it was your fault for not saving the babies. As a person who rescues rabbits I have had incidents where I have had to feed infant rabbits. I have never had one survive unless we had a foster mother. We even have a vet on staff who knows that it is nearly impossible to save a baby under 3 weeks old and sometimes it is more inhumane to even try. I don’t know what is wrong with the people in this world. I regularly get information from the activists groups only because of my job status. I have seen the ALF take claim with videos of stealing rabbits. I was flabbergasted to see them show a video ‘liberating’ meat rabbits and they tossed them all together in pillow cases. What they don’t realize is they just made it worse for the rescues because now they not only overflow us with rabbits but now we have a few hundred babies we have to find homes for also. I have a message for the extreme groups that think they are doing the right thing, people you can not save all of these animals. Animals were put on this earth as a food source. What you are doing is overflowing the shelters with animals and this leaves them full and unable to accept surrenders. When people have no place to surrender their animal, they get dropped off in the woods, sent to livestock auctions or just left to starve to death in their backyard. I see what happens on a daily basis. The extremists have all of you brainwashed. You are not helping the people that are truly trying to promote the humane treatment of animals. What you are doing is making us have to euthanize healthy animals because we have no more room. It is a sad fact that we can not find homes for a bunch of large white rabbits. They are not handled from birth because they are not meant to be pets. Most of them are not sociable and would not make good pets. You may think that you have saved their lives but in actuality what you have done is sent some of them to a death that is meaningless. Rather than being used to provide food to humans or other animals you have sent them to be euthanized and tossed in an incinerator. Believe me when I tell you that even NO KILL shelters euthanize animals. There is no room and animals that are deemed non adoptable are sent to their death.

    I just want you to know that not all of us that rescue animals actually think what you are doing is wrong. Some of us actually understand that there is a circle of life and personally after researching your facility I appreciate that you are teaching people humane methods of raising meat. I get more irritated by pet owners that take the responsibility of owning a pet and then toss it away when they are sick of it.

    • HintOfKizzle says:

      Angela,

      Thank you!! Thank you!! Thank you!! Everything you said is very well-stated and spot on!

      I also am a rabbit owner who understands the role rabbits play in the circle of life for some (not me, I can’t do it, but I understand it). I also have an appreciation for what the PMC is trying to do – bring awareness and respect to the concept of animal husbandry and butchery. I don’t know if it’s something I could ever do myself, even though I’m a meat eater, but I applaud PMC for teaching people how to move away from mass farming.

  18. Pingback: The Vegan Police

  19. kay miller says:

    Thank you so much A well written artical and right to the point

  20. marie heath says:

    Rabbits are livestock ,i hope you find who stole them and they are charged .They need the full letter of the law .
    Hope you find them soon ,
    Best Regards , Marie

  21. Joanne Rigutto says:

    Well said.

  22. Rebecca says:

    BRAVO !!! Very good article, well written and has obviously taken much thought to write. I am saddened by the death of the baby rabbits but if they had not been removed from their mother/shelter it’s a pretty sure fact they would still be alive. SHAME on the people who thought they were “saving” animals from a “horrible” death when in fact they were the soul reason for the deaths of the kits. BRAVO to you again for your diligent efforts to save them.

    Our choices and FREEDOMS are being compromised every day and we need to keep up the fight to maintain our FREEDOMS. It’s part of US as Americans and as humans. GOOD FOR YOU !!!

    ReBecca