Home / Prison-Industrial Complex / New York Mom Facing Jail for Having Rabbits as Pets — Because the City is ‘Just Doing Their Job’

New York Mom Facing Jail for Having Rabbits as Pets — Because the City is ‘Just Doing Their Job’

Dickinson, NY — A woman in Dickinson, New York faces fines and even possible time in jail — for rabbits.

Abigail Rudolph isn’t operating a large-scale rabbit breeding operation, and she isn’t hoarding rabbits in a studio apartment. She happens to care for 15 pet rabbits which are kept in her house and backyard.

“It was just ‘Oh, hey. I see you got rabbits. You have to get rid of them,’” Rudolph told WBNG.

She had received a notification in the mail that her pet rabbits are illegal.

“It said that I was ‘harboring rabbits’ and that I was ‘not allowed to have any rabbits or fur-bearing animals of any sort.’ They also don’t allow goats, and cows, and stuff like that,” she explained. “Ok, I see why I shouldn’t have a cow in my backyard, but I really didn’t understand why I shouldn’t have rabbits.”

Though controversial, many localities around the country prohibit keeping certain animals — usually livestock or food animals, like cattle and chickens — even on private property. While the stench of a cow or the irritation of a goat feasting on neighbors’ gardens might constitute an excuse to prohibit them by law, Rudolph’s rabbits are simple pets.

And according to WBNG, she lives a mere 100 yards away from Binghamton, where rabbits can be legally kept as pets. “It’s ridiculous,” Rudolph said of the arbitrary law.

“Well, it’s not ridiculous,” Town of Dickinson Supervisor Mike Marinaccio retorted. But he did little to lend credibility or justification of such an absurdly arbitrary law which might land a mother in jail for pet rabbits:

“This law was put into place many, many, many years ago. Probably decades ago,” he explained. “I feel the town has been very good to these people. They’re nice people for sure. However, they are violating the law. They decided they wanted to violate the law.”

Really? They decided ‘harboring rabbits’ was a good way to become criminals?!

Rudolph insists she had no idea she was breaking the law with her pets — there would be no reason to believe rabbits were illegal.

“All you have to do is make a quick phone call to the town and we can tell you what the laws are,” Marinaccio said. “So, there’s really no excuse for not knowing the laws here in the Town of Dickinson or anywhere in Broome County.”

But that argument seems nit-picky. If Rudolph were considering bringing a pet tiger into the house, a call to the town hall might seem prudent. But rabbits? And does this man expect every resident to “call the town” before they do anything, to make sure it’s not against the law?

Rudolph laments the growing possibility she’ll have to remove the rabbits and break her daughter’s heart. But the Town of Dickinson appears resolute in its obstinance in the matter. Laws are laws are laws to Marinaccio, apparently.

“I feel good we’re enforcing our codes,” he boasted — without ever offering an explanation for why those decades-old codes exist, or what benefit they offer the Town of Dickinson. “I feel bad for the children, but it’s the responsibility of the parents. They should be held responsible for their actions. Not the Town of Dickinson.”

It would seem to the rest of the world, the Town of Dickinson’s rabbit code amounts to “Because I told you so.”

It’s a good thing this town doesn’t have a decades-old law on the books to sacrifice a newborn puppy once a week — after all, it would be the law, so they’d have to enforce it.

  • Henry Hal Smith

    problem here is, the USA is full of morons! look at this town and what they are doing. i need no further proof! i rest my case! what would bugs bunny do in this town, be thrown into jail for being a bunny! i wanda if carrots are on the menu?

  • Edward Drew

    A good lawyer can prove the rabbits are pets and it will end!
    I’ll bet there are 1000’s of people that have rabbits as PETS across the country!
    Guess that old law will be Trumped!@

  • Edward Drew

    What’s UP Doc?

  • Valli Weidemann

    By law then, cats and dogs are illegal too as they are “fur-bearing animals”. And before you try to tell me that only applies to animals farmed for fur, they mention no such specification, and dogs and cats are regularly slaughtered for fur in other countries. She needs to confront the city with their own law and demand that every furry pet in the city is ejected.

  • silverlining

    We all know rabbits and pigs don’t mix well…..so out with the rabbit!!

  • Julie Groves Gupton

    There are intrusive codes and ordinances all over the country, like the one here in NC, last year, where a woman wanted to fly an American flag in front of her house. Turned out that was in violation of her HOA’s rules and she was forced to take it down or face penalties. Municipalities are just as bad. I hope she fights this and wins. It is not about rabbits but about reasonable laws that are not intended to micromanage or interfere with the lives of its citizens.

  • Cam Alft

    typical corrupt cops and courts protecting the people by harassing one law abiding citizen at a time………all cops are corrupt,they willingly work for a corrupted system…

  • Gordon Klock

    Authoritarians seem incapable of common sense, & they usually miss the point, with their misguided remedial attempts at compromise….
    (Btw-“chain of command” is useful, in dealing with responsibilities greater than the individual, I.e.”foreman”,” ship’s captain”,etc. “authority” on the other hand, is childish, power-tripping, destructive nonsense)…..

  • Anonymous

    Does this mean everyone with a dog or cat is going to be arrested as well ?? MORON.