Miriam Elaine Sakewitz, rabbit hoarder


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'''Miriam Elaine Sakewitz''' (born c. 1962) is an American animal hoarder who pleaded no contest to misdemeanor crimes related to hoarding in Oregon.[1] Known as the '''Bunny Lady''', she was found with nearly 250 rabbits in her home in Hillsboro, Oregon, with 88 of those found dead in freezers.[2] She later stole the rabbits back from police, and has since committed several parole violations after being caught with rabbits.[3]


Miriam Elaine Sakewitz worked as a financial systems analyst for a mortgage company in Beaverton, Oregon.[4][5] Sakewitz had an issue with police and rabbits in 2005 when she lived in Milwaukee, Oregon.[6][7] The Hillsboro Police Department seized 158 rabbits from Sakewitz in October 2006 at her home near the Hillsboro Airport.<ref name="take charge">{{cite news|title= City takes charge of 150 rabbits discovered in Hillsboro house |last=Suh|first=Elizabeth |date= October 18, 2006 |work=The Oregonian|page=B5}}</ref><ref name="reveals">{{cite news|title= Raid on Hillsboro home reveals four legal rabbits, plus 154 more |last=Snell|first=John |date= October 17, 2006 |work=The Oregonian|page=B3}}</ref> A city ordinance restricts residents to owning only four rabbits.<ref name="take charge"/> Police found 88 more dead rabbits in freezers at her Hillsboro home at the same time, all dead due to neglect or abuse.<ref name="take charge"/><ref name="reveals"/> The live rabbits were kept as evidence in the case against her.<ref name="take charge"/> Sakewitz faced 92 counts of first-degree and 165 counts of second-degree animal neglect.<ref name="again"/> These were later reduced to 30 counts to speed up the case.<ref name="nobunny"/>

Police held the rabbits in an undisclosed location where they were kept secure and cared for by volunteers until January 2007.<ref name="again">{{cite news|title=Police seize rabbits --again|last=Bermudez|first=Esmeralda|coauthors=Noelle Crombie|date=January 24, 2007|work=The Oregonian|page=B1}}</ref> That month Sakewitz broke into the facility and removed 130 rabbits.<ref name="again"/> Police arrested her a week later and found nine live rabbits in her car along with one dead one and a live goldfish in a bowl.<ref name="again"/> <ref>{{cite news|url=http://www.thedalleschronicle.com/news/2007/01/news01-29-07-03.shtml|title=Woman takes up neglected bunnies’ cause|last=Gray|first=Kathy|date=January 29, 2007|work=The Dalles Chronicle|accessdate=2009-09-17}}</ref> Police found the remaining rabbits on a farm near Chehalis, Washington.<ref name="again"/> These actions led to additional charges of burglary, criminal mischief, and tampering with evidence.<ref name="again"/><ref name="nobunny">{{cite news|title=No bunny adoption bonanza for Hillsboro, for now|last=Gorman|first=Kathleen |date=February 3, 2007|work=The Oregonian|page=E3}}</ref> She had been reported to police by a motel clerk who Google searched Sakewitz after she had discussed her rabbits with the clerk.<ref name="again"/> All the rabbits were returned to Oregon and Sakewitz was extradited back to Oregon as well.<ref name="homes">{{cite news|title=About 200 recovered rabbits will need good, caring homes|last=Gorman|first=Kathleen|date=January 25, 2007|work=The Oregonian|page=C1}}</ref> The rabbits were to be put up for adoption, but Sakewitz fought that in the Oregon Supreme Court as she had yet to be convicted.<ref name="nobunny"/> At first the court issued a temporary injunction, but later declined to hear the case, allowing police to put the animals out for adoption, though they decided to wait until the end of the case.<ref name="choice">{{cite news|title= Difficult legal choice confronts rabbit owner |last=Danks|first=Holly |date=March 13, 2007|work=The Oregonian|page=B2}}</ref>

In February 2007, Sakewitz pleaded not guilty to the charges for stealing the rabbits back.<ref name="update">{{cite news|title=News Update - Rabbit case brings plea of not guilty |last=Danks|first=Holly |date=February 13, 2007|work=The Oregonian|page=D3}}</ref> The prosecutor in the case offered a plea bargain that would avoid jail time for Sakewitz if she pled guilty, with her receiving probation instead.<ref name="choice"/> She changed her plea to no contest to the charges of criminal mischief, tampering with evidence, and five charges of first and five charges of second degree animal neglect in April 2007.<ref name="update2">{{cite news|title=News Update - New homes sought for seized rabbits |last=Danks|first=Holly |date= April 18, 2007|work=The Oregonian|page=C2}}</ref><ref name="trouble">{{cite news|title= More trouble for hoarder of bunnies in Hillsboro |last=Danks|first=Holly |date=July 13, 2007|work=The Oregonian|page=D1}}</ref> She said she was forced to accept the plea deal after running out of money to pay for a long legal battle.<ref name="keeping more">{{cite news|title= Rabbit hoarder accused of keeping more pets |last=Danks|first=Holly |date= January 19, 2008|work=The Oregonian|page=B2}}</ref> She appealed the convictions, claiming she received inadequate legal assistance from her attorney.<ref name="sack">{{cite news|url=http://blog.oregonlive.com/hillsboroargus/2009/04/bunny_lady_sacks_attorney_argu.html|title=Bunny lady sacks attorney, Argus reporter won't have to testify|last=Christensen|first=Nick|date=April 07, 2009|work=Hillsboro Argus}}</ref> Sakewitz forfeited the remaining animals and under Oregon law was prohibited from owning animals for five years due to the animal neglect conviction,<ref name="update2"/> plus she received five years of probation.<ref name="trouble"/> Police then put the 141 remaining rabbits up for adoption.<ref name="update2"/><ref name="newbatch">{{cite news|title=News Update - New batch of bunnies ready for new homes |last=Gregory|first=Roger |date= April 28, 2007|work=The Oregonian|page=E3}}</ref>

Parole violations

In August 2007, she was accused of a parole violation for keeping rabbits at her house, and was ordered to pay about $19,000 in restitution related to the care of the bunnies while in police custody.<ref name="trouble"/> A judge found she did have a rabbit in violation of her parole and sentenced her to three days in jail at the Washington County Jail.<ref name="jailed">{{cite news|title= Hoarder jailed for having rabbit |last=Danks|first=Holly |date= August 10, 2007|work=The Oregonian|page=B2}}</ref> While heading for jail she denied being a hoarder and also said she was not mentally ill or suffered from obsessive-compulsive disorder, saying "I don't collect anything, I had these rabbits 10 years. I never neglected my rabbits."<ref name="jailed"/> Police had said she was the largest hoarder by sheer numbers in Oregon’s history.<ref name="choice"/>

She spent another 30 days behind bars after violating her parole in November when she contacted her former attorneys.<ref name="keeping more"/> Sakewitz then violated her parole again in January 2008 for having pets and was ordered to serve 120 days in jail or in psychiatric care.<ref name="keeping more"/><ref name="held">{{cite news|title= News Update: Bunny-hoarder will be held 120 days |last=Suh|first=Elizabeth |date= March 1, 2008 |work=The Oregonian|page=B2}}</ref> Her appeal was denied in January 2009 when the Oregon Court of Appeals affirmed her conviction.<ref>{{cite journal|date=January 29, 2009|title=Decisions issued January 28, 2009|journal=Willamette Law Online|publisher=Willamette University College of Law|volume=2009|issue=4|url=http://www.willamette.edu/wucl/journals/wlo/oregon/appeals/09cases/20090128.html|accessdate=September 17, 2009}}</ref> In June 2009, she was arrested again after police found her in a hotel in Tigard, Oregon, with fourteen rabbits, one of which was dead.<ref name="back">{{cite news|title= Woman who hoarded rabbits is back in jail |last=Snell|first=John |date= June 18, 2009 |work=The Oregonian }}</ref><ref name=lady>{{cite news|url=http://www.nypost.com/p/news/national/bunny_lady_arrested_again_for_hoarding_i4VPJEWxBRsHv60cZoHZZK|title='Bunny Lady' arrested again for hoarding rabbits|last=Associated Press|date=June 18, 2009|work=New York Post|accessdate=2009-09-17}}</ref> She was released the next day due to jail overcrowding.<ref>{{cite news|url=http://www.oregonlive.com/washingtoncounty/index.ssf/2009/06/jail_crowding_prompts_release.html|title=Jail crowding prompts release of bunny hoarder|last=Snell|first=John|date=June 18, 2009|work=The Oregonian}}</ref> Sakewitz was sentenced to 90 days in jail in July for this latest parole violation.<ref name="threemonths">{{cite news|title= Rabbit hoarder gets three months in jail |last=Russell|first=Michael |date= July 3, 2009 |work=The Oregonian }}</ref><ref name=back2>{{cite news|url=http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/feedarticle/8592476|title=Oregon woman obsessed with rabbits back in jail|last=AP foreign|date=July 5, 2009|work=[[The Guardian]]|accessdate=2009-09-17}}</ref><ref>{{cite news|url=http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,526993,00.html|title=Woman jailed over rabbit obsession|date July 3, 2009|work=[[FOX News]]}}</ref>



External links

*[http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/n/a/2009/07/02/national/a234554D64.DTL Oregon woman obsessed with rabbits back in jail]


  1. update2
  2. lady
  3. back
  4. trouble
  5. jailed
  6. reveals
  7. hoarders {{cite news|title= Oregon is ill-equipped to deal with pet hoarders |last=Gorman|first=Kathleen |date=February 11, 2007|work=The Oregonian|page=B1}}