|Miriam Elaine Sakewitz|
|Charge(s)||Animal neglect |
tampering with evidence
|Penalty||5 years probation|
|Occupation||Financial systems analyst|
Miriam Elaine Sakewitz (born c. 1962) is an American animal hoarder who pleaded no contest to misdemeanor crimes related to hoarding in Oregon. 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. She later stole the rabbits back from police, and has since committed several parole violations after being caught with rabbits.
Miriam Elaine Sakewitz worked as a financial systems analyst for a mortgage company in Beaverton, Oregon. Sakewitz had an issue with police and rabbits in 2005 when she lived in Milwaukie, Oregon. The Hillsboro Police Department seized 158 rabbits from Sakewitz in October 2006 at her home near the Hillsboro Airport. A city ordinance restricts residents to owning only four rabbits. Police found 88 more dead rabbits in freezers at her Hillsboro home at the same time, all dead due to neglect or abuse. The live rabbits were kept as evidence in the case against her. Sakewitz faced 92 counts of first-degree and 165 counts of second-degree animal neglect. These were later reduced to 30 counts to speed up the case.
Police held the rabbits in an undisclosed location where they were kept secure and cared for by volunteers until January 2007. That month Sakewitz broke into the facility and removed 130 rabbits. 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.  Police found the remaining rabbits on a farm near Chehalis, Washington. These actions led to additional charges of burglary, criminal mischief, and tampering with evidence. She had been reported to police by a motel clerk who Google searched Sakewitz after she had discussed her rabbits with the clerk. All the rabbits were returned to Oregon and Sakewitz was extradited back to Oregon as well. 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. 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.
In February 2007, Sakewitz pleaded not guilty to the charges for stealing the rabbits back. 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. 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. She said she was forced to accept the plea deal after running out of money to pay for a long legal battle. She appealed the convictions, claiming she received inadequate legal assistance from her attorney. Sakewitz forfeited the remaining animals and under Oregon law was prohibited from owning animals for five years due to the animal neglect conviction, plus she received five years of probation. Police then put the 141 remaining rabbits up for adoption.
 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. 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. 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." Police had said she was the largest hoarder by sheer numbers in Oregon’s history.
She spent another 30 days behind bars after violating her parole in November when she contacted her former attorneys. 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. Her appeal was denied in January 2009 when the Oregon Court of Appeals affirmed her conviction. 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. She was released the next day due to jail overcrowding. Sakewitz was sentenced to 90 days in jail in July for this latest parole violation.
- ^ a b c d Danks, Holly (April 18, 2007). "News Update - New homes sought for seized rabbits". The Oregonian: p. C2.
- ^ a b Associated Press (June 18, 2009). "'Bunny Lady' arrested again for hoarding rabbits". New York Post. http://www.nypost.com/p/news/national/bunny_lady_arrested_again_for_hoarding_i4VPJEWxBRsHv60cZoHZZK. Retrieved 2009-09-17.
- ^ a b Snell, John (June 18, 2009). "Woman who hoarded rabbits is back in jail". The Oregonian.
- ^ a b c d Danks, Holly (July 13, 2007). "More trouble for hoarder of bunnies in Hillsboro". The Oregonian: p. D1.
- ^ a b c Danks, Holly (August 10, 2007). "Hoarder jailed for having rabbit". The Oregonian: p. B2.
- ^ a b c Snell, John (October 17, 2006). "Raid on Hillsboro home reveals four legal rabbits, plus 154 more". The Oregonian: p. B3.
- ^ Gorman, Kathleen (February 11, 2007). "Oregon is ill-equipped to deal with pet hoarders". The Oregonian: p. B1.
- ^ a b c d Suh, Elizabeth (October 18, 2006). "City takes charge of 150 rabbits discovered in Hillsboro house". The Oregonian: p. B5.
- ^ a b c d e f g Bermudez, Esmeralda; Noelle Crombie (January 24, 2007). "Police seize rabbits --again". The Oregonian: p. B1.
- ^ a b c Gorman, Kathleen (February 3, 2007). "No bunny adoption bonanza for Hillsboro, for now". The Oregonian: p. E3.
- ^ Gray, Kathy (January 29, 2007). "Woman takes up neglected bunnies’ cause". The Dalles Chronicle. http://www.thedalleschronicle.com/news/2007/01/news01-29-07-03.shtml. Retrieved 2009-09-17.
- ^ Gorman, Kathleen (January 25, 2007). "About 200 recovered rabbits will need good, caring homes". The Oregonian: p. C1.
- ^ a b c Danks, Holly (March 13, 2007). "Difficult legal choice confronts rabbit owner". The Oregonian: p. B2.
- ^ Danks, Holly (February 13, 2007). "News Update - Rabbit case brings plea of not guilty". The Oregonian: p. D3.
- ^ a b c Danks, Holly (January 19, 2008). "Rabbit hoarder accused of keeping more pets". The Oregonian: p. B2.
- ^ Christensen, Nick (April 07, 2009). "Bunny lady sacks attorney, Argus reporter won't have to testify". Hillsboro Argus. http://blog.oregonlive.com/hillsboroargus/2009/04/bunny_lady_sacks_attorney_argu.html.
- ^ Gregory, Roger (April 28, 2007). "News Update - New batch of bunnies ready for new homes". The Oregonian: p. E3.
- ^ Suh, Elizabeth (March 1, 2008). "News Update: Bunny-hoarder will be held 120 days". The Oregonian: p. B2.
- ^ "Decisions issued January 28, 2009". Willamette Law Online (Willamette University College of Law) 2009 (4). January 29, 2009. http://www.willamette.edu/wucl/journals/wlo/oregon/appeals/09cases/20090128.html. Retrieved September 17, 2009.
- ^ Snell, John (June 18, 2009). "Jail crowding prompts release of bunny hoarder". The Oregonian. http://www.oregonlive.com/washingtoncounty/index.ssf/2009/06/jail_crowding_prompts_release.html.
- ^ Russell, Michael (July 3, 2009). "Rabbit hoarder gets three months in jail". The Oregonian.
- ^ AP foreign (July 5, 2009). "Oregon woman obsessed with rabbits back in jail". The Guardian. http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/feedarticle/8592476. Retrieved 2009-09-17.
- ^ "Woman jailed over rabbit obsession". FOX News. http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,526993,00.html.