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Owner of seized animals speaks out
"I love my animals, they're my life," said Marie Koons standing on the front porch where cages that once housed 48 rabbits now sit empty. She says she is being wrongly targeted by neighbors and investigators and offers up photos of her own as proof.
"I work really hard for my animals. I give them excellent care."
Investigators seized 100 animals from her property Friday including rabbits, chickens, horses, a pig and ducks and geese. One of the animals has since died, another was found dead at her home.
Her two children, ages 10 and 12 have not been allowed to return pending an investigation by social services because of conditions inside and outside the home.
Koons admits her standards may not be up to everyone's but she treats her pets as well or better than she lives herself.
She showed 13WHAM News photos are rabbits of all types. Each has a name and is part of her family. Her children help to raise and show them for 4-H. "I think if they were so abused I wouldn't be putting them on show tables around thousands of people," she said.
Yet investigators have their own photos, taken just before the animals were seized. The rabbits were in cages filled with feces. Several of them had fur so matted they were not able to go to the bathroom until a vet was able to shave some of the fur away.
"I hoped I could seize the animals before some could perish," said investigator Tom Littlefield. "There were some that were living without shelter wallowing in their own waste."
Littlefield says none of the rabbits had food or water. Some of them are pregnant. "Some animals have died," said Littlefield. "We couldn't get them to a vet in time."
The department of social services has launched an investigation into the welfare of the children. They were in charge of the animals but haven't been allowed to return to the home.
The animals are being evaluated and based on the results animal cruelty charges may be filed according to Wayne County District Attorney Rick Healy. The animals have been taken in by a rescue organization called Cracker Box Palace which is in need of foster homes.
Marie Koons says she was the one who rescued the horses, two of them from a slaughter house. She showed 13 Wham News that they were cared for by a vet.
She does admit her property lacks the proper space for such large animals. But she says she will fight to keep the others.