LISBON — She’s gotten bags of food and hay. Calls offering assistance. And more adoption requests than she ever would have guessed, some from families as far away as New Hampshire. 

But Tammy Ray, who saved 10 baby bunnies after finding them abandoned in her boyfriend’s Lisbon field, has also gotten the unexpected word that, for now, she can’t let the rabbits go.

Turns out, her baby bunnies are evidence. 

Ray, whose story appeared in the Sun Journal on Monday, has learned that she cannot give away the nine rabbits she has left. Lisbon Animal Control Officer Jeffrey Cooper is investigating the animals’ abandonment. And since the rabbits are evidence in an active investigation, she said he’s asked her to hang onto them. He’s also given her another rabbit to care for, a bunny Ray said was trapped near the same field.

“We knew we didn’t get them all,” Ray said. 

The new rabbit is not the little black one that Ray and her boyfriend had been unable to catch, but she holds out hope that rabbit will still be found. Cooper has set out another trap.    

Ray discovered the rabbits nearly two weeks ago when she was driving past her boyfriend’s field on her way to his house. She saw a little white dot in the grass and thought it was trash until she saw a pair of rabbit ears moving. 

She assumed there was one rabbit. But when she got out of her car and walked into the field, it was a herd that greeted her.    

There were 11 pet rabbits, all young and skinny. The body of a 12th lay in the area. Also nearby: recent tire tracks.

Someone had dumped a dozen baby bunnies in the field.

Ray spent the next half-hour gathering up the rabbits and putting
them in her car. When it got too dark to see, she called her boyfriend and they searched the field together with flashlights. They captured 10 of the 11. One small black rabbit got away.

Using folding tables as barricades, Ray and her boyfriend set up a
makeshift bunny pen in the garage, then divided the pen in two when
they realized they had males and females. Ray knew very little about rabbits, but she thought they liked apples, so she fed them those overnight. She went online to learn how to care for them.

Ray soon found help from rabbit Web sites and a local rabbit breeder who came to the garage. The breeder guessed that Ray’s rabbits ranged in age from 8 weeks to 6 months and represented several different breeds, including mini lop, lionhead and one of the giant breeds.

Ray quickly bonded with the bunnies, who liked to hop into her lap and nudge her for attention or food. She named them Deer, Floppy, Dusty, Angel, Blondie, Misty, Midnight, L.B., Taffy and Mr. Man (though he would turn out to be a she). Deer was adopted through the vet’s office that treated her for an ear infection, leaving Ray with nine. Other people said they would take a couple but the rabbits would have to live outside, and that wasn’t the kind of life Ray wanted for her bunnies.

She received offers of help and requests to adopt the rabbits as soon as her story appeared Monday.

“I’ve been getting calls off the hook,” she said.

Within a day, eight families had offered to adopt the bunnies — one of them, a couple of them, all of them. Some people said they would provide references to prove they would be good owners.  

Ray has told potential adopters that they can see the animals and choose which to adopt, but the rabbits cannot leave until the animal control officer gives permission. So far, people are OK with that.

“They’re like, ‘Oh, no, I want to wait,'” Ray said. 

The animal control officer declined to comment, citing an ongoing investigation.  

The officer has offered to provide Ray with hay and food for as
long as the investigation takes, Ray said. No longer starving, the rabbits have stopped gobbling their food as soon as she sets it down. They’re no longer so skinny.

“They’re getting to look more like bunnies now,” Ray said.  

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Tammy Ray of Lisbon cuddles with the domesticated rabbit she named Floppy. She found the bunny abandoned in a field almost two weeks ago. Ray is caring for 10 bunnies and cannot send them to their adoptive homes until the local animal control officer has finished investigating the case.


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