In 2012, according to media reports, Carole VanWie, of Lusby, entered an Alford plea after being accused of improperly caring for over 200 domestic rabbits – the plea allowed VanWie to maintain her innocence, while also agreeing there was enough evidence to convict her of a crime.
The 2012 case against VanWie was handled by the Calvert County State’s Attorney’s office.
Fast forward to January 2023, when Maryland Natural Resources Police (NRP), which, according to Lauren Moses, public information officer for the agency, “conducts annual inspections of permitted wildlife rehabilitators,” did so at VanWie’s residence – they returned in February with a search warrant and confiscated 67 animals, nine of which were dead.
The confiscation of these animals was reported on this site last Friday and at that point, Moses indicated VanWie held a state-issued wildlife rehabilitation permit.
NRP wouldn’t answer questions about the 2012 case – Moses suggested contacting Calvert County.
The Calvert County’s State’s Attorney’s office declined to comment on the 2012 and 2023 cases against VanWie,
Moses stated other questions, including those about VanWie’s wildlife rehabilitator permit and if DNR was involved in the 2012 case, should go to DNR.
According to Gregg Bortz, public information officer for DNR, “At this point beyond what Lauren provided concerning last week’s incident, we cannot comment further as there is ongoing activity regarding this case.”
How long VanWie held her wildlife rehabilitation permit is, at this point, unknown, as is if NRP/DNR were involved in the 2012 case.
Animal hoarding, according to the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, “can be identified when a person is housing more animals than they can adequately and appropriately care for. It is a complex issue that often encompasses mental health, animal welfare and public safety concerns. Animal hoarding is defined by an inability to provide even minimal standards of nutrition, sanitation, shelter and veterinary care—often resulting in over-breeding of animals, animal starvation, illness and even death. In some cases, guardians believe they are helping their animals and deny this inability to provide minimum care.”
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) was involved with the case with the case against VanWie in 2012.
PETA was asked for comment in this latest case against VanWie:
“This woman caged dozens of rabbits, ducklings, and wild animals in conditions so dismal that police had to rush the survivors out, illustrating why hoarders must be permanently banned from possessing animals and that some of the worst offenders are those who pose as “rescuers.” PETA is calling on officials and the court not to make the same mistake as in 2012, when sentencing failed to ensure that no more animals would land in this hoarder’s clutches.” – PETA
No charges against VanWie appear in the Maryland Judiciary Case Search as of today – last week, Moses stated “all charges will be filed at a later date.”
VanWie does not currently appear on DNR’s list of permitted wildlife rehabilitators.
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Donna L. Cole is an award-winning investigative and multimedia reporter. She’s also a bird of prey rescuer.