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Nearly 200 rabbits, dogs, cats and other animals rescued in Franklin County

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FRANKLIN COUNTY, MO. (KTVI) –Sheriff deputies and members of the Missouri Humane Society Animal Cruelty Task Force confiscated more than 250 animals from a Franklin County woman Tuesday morning.

Velma Muessemeyer said she has been raising rabbits for more than sixty years and there was nothing wrong with her methods.  But authorities described the conditions for nearly two hundred rabbits and 25 pigmy goats as 'deplorable.'

The director of the Animal Cruelty Task Force Mike Perkins said vets told him many of the rabbits were 'living in their hutch with no bedding,  living in their feces and there was approximately ten to 12 inches of feces underneath the outside kennels.

As many as thirteen domestic rabbits were crowded into one wire cage.  Muessemeyer said she was getting ready to butcher some of them.  'This was part of my living cause I don`t  get a lot of Social Security so this was to help me out,' she explained.

The woman admitted, 'rabbits are messy, yes they are messyand they are a lot of work, but I go through fifty pounds of feed a day.'

Rabbit feces littered the ground around the woman`s home near St. Clair, MO.  Vets who examined the rabbits at the Humane Society`s facility in west St. Louis City said some had ear mites and respiratory problems.  A few had infected wounds from fighting each other.  Some were under weight, but some appeared plump.

Twenty-five pigmy goats, ten cats, four dogs,  as well as 21 chickens and a duck were also removed from the property.

This is the second time in nearly four years Muessemeyer lost her animals. Officials removed 158 animals at that time.   In 2010 a court settlement limited her to 20 new rabbits and some goats along with her pet dogs for two years.  Authorities checked on herand she obeyed the limits.  But after the two year period she refused to allow inspectors on her property.

Recently a woman bought two pigmy goats from herand one died.  That prompted a complaint to the Franklin County Sheriff and facilitated the issuing of a warrant to search the property.   Muessemeyer said the woman failed to follow the instructions for properly feeding the goat.  She suspects she gave it milk after it had been weaned from its mother.

When asked if she ever used a veterinarian to check on her animals,  Muessemeyer said no adding  'I know what is wrong with them; I could write eight books on rabbits.'

The Franklin County Prosecutor is waiting for reports from the sheriff deputies before deciding if any criminal charges will be filed.  The Humane Society will care for the animals until a deposition hearing on December 4 to determine if the animals should be returned to Muessemeyer.

A neighbor and friend, Helen Busse said Muessemeyer believed she was acting in the animals' best interests.   "I am very saddened because I know how much her animals mean to her," she added.

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4 comments

  • Mae

    Bedding isn’t usually kept in rabbit cages unless the female has a litter of bunnies. If you have straw in the cage it keeps the poo pellets from falling through the wire bottom of the cage and it can build up inside the cage. Rabbits aren’t supposed to be kept on a solid bottom because they have furry feet instead of pads and their urine can soak into the fur and burn their skin.All they need extra in winter is something to block the wind (feed bags, plywood, or a tarp) and fresh water 2 times a day if it’s cold enough to freeze. Ear mites is a common problem that can be a pain in the but to control and keeping several in a large cage while fattening them up is what most people do. Give the lady back her animals. Go back to the city and leave the country folk alone.

  • Happy Hens

    Sorry but, the conditions those rabbits were living in were deplorable. I have rabbits and chickens . Cleanliness is one of the keys to keeping animals healthy. I don’t care whether you are from the “country ” or not. Obviously the sheer number of animals this lady had was overwhelming. Way to many for her to properly care for. She seems to be animal hoarder which is a form of mental illness. She needs help as well as all the animals that were neglected under her “care”.

    • Dawn, Fluff N Furr Angora

      While the lady’s property is filled with debris, there are no pictures showing what the cages themselves looked like inside. She was raising rabbits for meat, so having numerous fryers in one large cage would be considered standard practice. They’re called grow-out pens. Since she says that she’s been raising rabbits for 60 years, I’m guessing that she’s at least 75 years old. That means that she lived through the Depression. Many, many people of her generation hoard “stuff” that most of us would throw out. They keep lumber, scraps of metal, even old bent nails–because they lived through a time when THAT was what you used to build with. Those “hoarders” are ingenious at re-using old junk. It is often ugly, but still very functional. As an in-home caregiver, I see it a lot.
      So I’m not willing to assume that because her cages and hutches were made of bits and pieces, that they were not comfortable and adequate shelter. Frankly, the rabbits don’t care what the yard outside their cage looks like, They only care if the INSIDE of their cage is clean and dry.
      If you own rabbits yourself, then you know that 10″ of droppings under the outdoor hutches means that they get cleaned under at least quarterly. That too is pretty common. Many people allow the manure under hutches to compost and it only gets removed annually.

  • Thomas Kirby

    I don’t think that any of this “raid” crap is right, not now, not ever, and those raids are criminally motivated.

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